________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 10 . . . . January 4, 2007


The Quirky Girls’ Guide to Rest Stops and Road Trips.           

Karen Rivers.
Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2006.
284 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-55192-907-1.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4


It’s a pretty weird feeling to have graduated and to have no particular place to go in the fall. That in and of itself isn’t weird, but it feels weird when it’s happening to you. It’s sort of aimless, after a lifetime of having an aim – to get through the next grade to the next and the next. The worst part (one of the worst) is that now I don’t have any reason for buying new school supplies, back-to-school clothes (invariably cords, jeans, and sweaters) or getting a fantastic new hairstyle. And frankly, I like an excuse to buy a good pen. I have very specific pen needs. For example, it has to have a felt tip, but not a wide one. And it can’t make noise when it moves on the paper, not that terrible newspaper-styrofoam noise that sets my teen on edge, for example. And I like new paper.

There’s something about blank paper. It’s like a fresh start, just sitting there, waiting for you to mess it all up.


It’s August 11, and, yes, Hailey Andromeda Harmony has graduated from high school and is now waiting for the next part of the TGYML (the greatest year of my life) to happen. Her friends have moved away: “supernaturally pretty” Jules is in New York, furthering her modeling career, and super-achiever Kiki is off to Harvard. Brad, her sort-of boyfriend, is off in San Diego, playing hockey in one of the farm leagues. Changes are happening at home: Haley’s about to become a sister (a sibling, not a nun, like her mother). Melody, her dad’s partner, is expecting The Baby in December.

     As a graduation present, Dad and Melody have given Haley a van, a classic VW straight out of the 1960’s. Haley is thrilled: “I can’t think of anything much cooler. And what else to do with it but drive . . . somewhere.” First she must pass a driver’s licensing test, and in true Haley fashion, the test is a test both for driver and examiner. Next, to finance her trip, she needs cash, and so, like many other high school grads, she heads for the local mall in search of employment, delivering her resume “to every place on earth, ranging from the Gap . . . to the bookstore . . .  to McDonald’s (I have no pride.) Her dream job would be to work in the ultra-cool bookstore owned by the good-looking HBG (Hot Bookstore Guy), but the dream is deferred for a job as a waitress at Hefty Hoovers, “an inexplicably popular restaurant home to all-you-can-eat ribs and vinyl booths and real sawdust floors.”     

     Haley’s inherent klutziness, coupled with an unfortunate mishap with hair dye (green hair is off-putting to Hefty’s clientele) leads to her rapid firing, but staff shortages lead to a return engagement at Hefty’s, followed by a second termination notice (too many broken dishes). Things get worse: her on-again, off-again relationship with Brad has definitely gone “off,” and her arch-enemy from high school, the hyper-perky Izzy Archimbaud is determined to make Haley her new best friend. Somehow, unbelievably so (well, it’s believable for Haley), Izzy does become her new best friend, and so, halfway through the book, on November 18, the Van pulls out of the highway and heads for San Diego. When two guys hit the road together, you have the makings of “a buddy movie.” When two girls head out on the highway, looking for adventure, (actually, Haley is looking for adventures and quirky factoids to fill the travel book she hopes to write, while Izzy is looking for Brad), the result is closer to the story of Thelma and Louise.

     No one gets seriously hurt, but the story is full of wrong turns, bad hair days, and typical Haley hilarity (which usually finds her on the receiving end of the latest mishap). Fans of the Haley Harmony books (The Healing Time of Hickeys and The Cure for Crushes) will definitely enjoy the conclusion of the trilogy. Yes, it’s chick lit, lite chick lit (is that chick lite???), but it’s fun, perfect for a quick read over the holidays, maybe even on a road trip! Buy it for your young Haley wanna-bes, and make sure that you have the two preceding volumes for those who like to read a complete series.


Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB. 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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