I wanted to love this. But I just couldn’t bring myself past feeling lukewarm. CBR9 Review 24.

UnknownThis book was practically a sure thing for me. It has an adorable little porcupine on the cover. I can’t resist! I mean, LOOK AT HOW CUTE THAT IS. It also has a blurb from my Cannonball boyfriend, Andrew Smith. Just reading the words ANDREW SMITH is like catnip to me. Seriously, I was destined to love this book.

But I just didn’t. And I don’t really get why.

Carson is uprooted from his life in NYC for a summer in Billings, Montana, against his will. His father (who abandoned him and his mom when he was three) is dying and Carson’s mom demands that they go home and nurse him in his last months. Carson isn’t excited about this at all.

Until he meets Aisha, the funniest and most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Its love at first site. Except that it isn’t.

Because not only is Aisha living in the woods behind the Billings Zoo, she’s been kicked out of her house by her Jesus-fearing father for being a lesbian. And so Carson brings her home to live in the basement with him. He knows his psychologist (and psycho-babble spewing) mother won’t be able to say no.

From there, the book becomes a road trip quest to find out the truth — about Carson’s father and grandfather, about whether or not there is a God, about how people decide who to love, and about choosing your own family when the one you were born with isn’t quite right for you.

From Montana to Utah to California, Carson and Aisha slowly get to know all about each other, both the good and the bad. She finds out about how he grew up without his alcoholic father, and how his father had also grown up without his own alcoholic father. Carson learns about how Aisha’s father chose religion over his own daughter, and how that rejection taints Aisha’s vision of everything around her.

Yeah, this is a quirky YA road trip book, but its filled with serious shit. A lot of talk about God, depression, alcoholism, abandonment, racism, homophobia, and AIDS. Carson uses humor as a means to deal with these serious topics…and that’s where the book lost me.

I get that a lot of people use humor to deal with tragedy. We’ve all done it at one time or another. And if Carson wants to use it to mask his real emotions, fine. I just didn’t find any of his humor all that humorous.

Everything in the book that was supposed to be hilarious fell extremely flat for me.

All of the funny, ridiculous improv? Bugged the crap out of me.

The puns and the jokes? Annoyed me to no end.

And the porcupine? Cute at first, but the longer his backstory and history went on, the less I cared.

I don’t know. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this one. The characters were interesting (especially everyone who Carson and Aisha met on their trip), and I liked the end result. But I just really didn’t like Carson all that much and wasn’t charmed by any of his charming qualities.

Don’t worry, Andrew Smith. I’m not mad at you. You’ll always be my Cannonball Boyfriend. This just wasn’t my favorite book.

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