Tuesday, July 19

Hit the Road, Manny by Christian Burch

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Atheneum Books and is used solely as an aide to the review.

Keats is looking forward to having a fun summer with his family and the manny at home but his parents have a big surprise for him: a road trip!

Packed into an RV, Keats' family – his mom, dad, three sisters and the manny – all set out on a fabulous adventure across America.

On the way, they stop to visit the manny's parents, who just can't seem to embrace the manny for who he is. Keats starts to wonder if they have a point. Does the manny have to be so interesting all the time?

The manny is back and he is as fabulous as ever! I raced out to buy this book the day I finished 'The Manny Files' and read it aloud to my mum. It has the perfect balance of sentiment and humour. I didn't know there was a sequel when I first read the first book but I was glad to be able to read more of the characters. They are all so wonderfully written.

Keats is really growing in this novel. Not just physically or age-wise but away from his home, he starts to see how other people see and treat the manny and begins to re-evaluate his own feelings. This book deals a lot more with acceptance and family values and I loved it all the more for it.

Away from the comfort-zone of his home, Keats feels embarrassed by the manny's huge public displays. This is a sign that Keats is getting older and just like Lulu, is prone to embarrassment but the further away he pulls himself from the manny, the further he gives himself to pull himself back in.

The manny really is a hero and role-model to Keats and to the reader. I liked that in this book we get to see a more personal and vulnerable side of him. It's up to Keats to stand by the manny and help him embrace all the lessons he's taught Keats over the past year. The relationship between Keats and the manny really strengthens in this book and it just shows that sometimes you have to step outside of your world to focus and sharpen the picture.

The other characters in this book are marvellous. Keats' parents are outrageous and funny and the sort of people you would want to know. They are very connected with their children's lives, although they're not without their own faults and quirks.

'Mom says the S word when she gets hurt or really mad. She is trying to say it less because I started calling the S word "Mom's word."'

Keats' three sisters are back and brighter than ever. India is still the clever waif, Lulu the budding teen with an aversion to public displays of affection and Belly has become a belter, with a newfound tendency to TALK ABOUT HERSELF IN THE THIRD PERSON. It's marvellous.

On their journey, Keats also writes to his best friend, Sarah and to his Uncle Max, which adds a wonderful extra layer of humour and reflection to his narration. Keats is a brilliant narrator. I love how he perceives the world through his imagination.

'Belly gets unbearable when she's excited. That means that she's so annoying that bears wouldn't even eat her.'

I'd recommend 'Hit the Road, Manny' to anyone who wants to read a great book full of laughter, child-like wonder, family fun, love and imagination. Make sure you don't miss out on the first book, 'The Manny Files.'

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