A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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References to farts and pee; description of someone as "pissed off." Occasional "hell."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
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."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.