The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise Book Poster Image
Girl and her dad flee grief in heart-filled road-trip tale.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Coyote reads a lot of books, loves The One and Only Ivan, discusses other favorites with new characters as they come along. Since she spends a lot of time reading (her dad also makes her read New York Times to keep up with current events), she has an excellent, if quirky, vocabulary -- e.g., "I think it says something about their openness to life and their general philosophical outlook." Lots of geography, local color as bus crosses the country, a bit of Spanish from Salvador, his mom.

Positive Messages

Erring on side of kindness tends to work out well. Strong messages about love, family, friendship, creative solutions, helping each other out, respecting differences, accepting people for who they are, dealing with grief instead of running away from it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Coyote has been dealing with grief and keeping her father from going completely off the rails. She's smart, determined, willing to stand up for what she thinks is important, willing to be kind and meet her new friends' needs even when they get in the way of her own. New pal Salvador, violin player, is a strong, helpful friend who has her back, also looks out for his mom. Coyote's father, Rodeo, is definitely strange but also devoted, concerned parent trying very hard to keep daughter from harm. One scene involves entire party breaking into a theater for what they think is a really good cause; scrambling and creative fiction ensue when security guard arrives. Another finds 12-year-old Coyote driving the bus and dodging police.


Salvador and his mom are running away from his dad, who beat both of them but mostly her. A terrifying scene when the brakes on the bus fail. Several misunderstandings and cop chases, leading to one of the characters getting arrested and a cop pulling a gun on some of them.


Coyote and Salvador have moments that they realize could be awkward because of boy-girl issues, but get through it, as when a crisis has everyone leaping from their beds and Salvador politely looks the other way because Coyote's in her underwear. A teen character's parents kicked her out of her home after she told them she was gay. An adult character is ditched by a no-good, lying boyfriend; another, fleeing an abusive marriage; another, going back to his girlfriend. An adult character recalls embarrassing moment when her mom walked in on her and a boy.


References to farts and pee; description of someone as "pissed off." Occasional "hell."


Quite a lot of book titles are mentioned by name as Coyote and other characters discuss them. Coyote's favorite drink is Squirt.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult character reacts to bad news by drinking. His friends don't let him drive.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is author Dan Gemeinhart's take on the classic all-American road-trip tale. This one is seen through the eyes of a bright 12-year-old who's been crisscrossing the country in a converted school bus with her loving but strange dad ever since her mom and sisters were killed in a car crash five years earlier. Grief, loss, and running from them are among the hard things going on, and as Coyote and Rodeo pick up passengers along the way, there's more: a musician torn between his band and his girlfriend, a boy and his mom fleeing his violent father, a teen whose parents have thrown her out because she's gay. Also a bit of breaking and entering for a good cause, etc. There's a lot of heart here, and also a lot of books, kindness, creative thinking, and learning to see things from other people's perspective.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMrWigdahl November 12, 2019
This story is definitely a window into a lifestyle I don't have—and imagining it is part of the appeal! So many real, honest characters and a compelling pl... Continue reading
Adult Written byKjbartolotta March 20, 2019

Has resonant elements, but feels irresponsible and unrealistic

While I enjoyed the voice of the story and felt the road-trip element captured something elusive and worthwhile, I could not forgive the father's irrespons... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 29, 2020

A Touching Story

I think that this book is very touching and is full of great emotions. The characters have great personalities and their strong personalities make so much emoti... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 3, 2019

A heartwarming story

If I could, I would rate this book a million stars! The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is just absolutely amazing, all the characters have incredible pers... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE finds the 12-year-old title character and her dad, who goes by Rodeo, on the run. From grief. In a school bus named Yager. It's been this way for five years, ever since Coyote's mom and two sisters were killed in a car crash. Not forming attachments, especially to anything you can lose, is a big rule. Which Coyote breaks the minute she sees a gray kitten at a truck stop, smuggles him onboard, and names him Ivan after the hero in her favorite book, The One and Only Ivan. Then she learns that back in the hometown they've been avoiding for five years, the park where she and her mom and sisters buried a memory box just before she lost them is about to be demolished. Now she's got to get back in time to save the box, and also keep her fragile dad in the dark about what she's up to. Along the way, they pick up assorted folks in need, form new connections, and have many adventures. Also setbacks.

Is it any good?

Dan Gemeinhart's heart-filled road-trip tale brings an irresistible 12-year-old narrator, an engaging cast of characters, and a lot of nail-biting, hilarious, poignant, and life-changing moments. There's a lot of heavy stuff going on as a kid tries to keep what's left of her family -- i.e., her strange, fragile, but loving father -- together in the wake of her mom and sisters' deaths years earlier. The new friends who join The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise are dealing with stuff of their own -- fleeing abusers, being thrown out of the house for being gay, and facing some hard relationship choices. But kindness helps.

"The girl sniffled and then took another bite and while she got to chewing, I got to thinking.

"Now, obviously I was thinking of giving this girl a ride. I don't care who you are, if you see some girl crying at a gas station at night, you can't help but feel like you oughta help 'em if you can. Just look at that nosy lady who called the cops on me when Rodeo left me behind the night I met Salvador. There is such things as good help and bad help, though, and I was more interested in seeing if I could give Val the good kind. Plus, that bit about Val's parents really got my fur up like Ivan's when he sees a dog. My very favorite aunt -- my mom's sister, Jen -- is gay, and her wife, Sofia, is my very favorite aunt-in-law, and the thought of someone hating on them just 'cause of who they love made me want to put on boxing gloves."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about road-trip stories like The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. Why do you think journeys -- and the way they transform characters -- are such a popular storytelling theme? Do you have any favorites? How does this one compare with them?

  • Why do you think Coyote and Rodeo get hassled by police (and busybodies) so much? Do you think this is fair? Do you know anyone in a similar situation?

  • Do you think it would be fun to live on a bus and call the road your home? Or would you rather live in a regular house?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love road trip and grief stories

Themes & Topics

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