Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Published: 6-7-2011 by Feiwel and Friends
Get the book: Amazon
On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.
Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?
This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was a lot more about Lil’s relationship with Josh than it was about Penny. I think it was a little confused about what it was going to be about. The cover’s tagline (Friend or Boyfriend?) describes it perfectly, while the blurb above makes it sound much different.
- vagueness – I appreciated how the author left it up to the reader to decide if Penny was really abused by her boyfriend. If her parents really did ignore her. Signs definitely point to yes in both cases, but things in life aren’t black and white.
- Lil – I felt that Lil was easy to relate to for numerous reasons. She just graduated high school and is worried about the future, she’s crushing on her closest guy friend, and she’s willing to go to all lengths to make sure her friend is safe.
- tourist traps – The places that Lil and Josh stop at along their road trip are so off-the-wall crazy. They’re interesting pieces of our weird country – things like the Corn Palace and the House on the Rock – collections of things that someone thought were worth building shrines to.
- Penny – Penny is an unreliable source of information. She’s talked about frequently, yet seen rarely, making her a sort of dark cloud hanging over Lil and Josh. Penny’s reaction to Lil driving for days just to make sure she’s alright is way too casual. Penny has no concept of what friendship is, or of how big a deal running away and faking a kidnapping is.
- Josh – Sure, Josh would be a great friend to go on a road trip with – he’s entertaining and has daddy issues that result in a bottomless credit card. But Josh doesn’t seem like good boyfriend material. He’s a loyal friend to Lil, but he’s sometimes clueless and other times purposefully ignorant of Lil’s feelings. I felt like he toyed with her emotions constantly. He would kiss her forehead or tell her she looked sexy but not want to be more than friends. I still can’t decide if he was being clueless or if he was being a jerk. If he was confused about his own feelings toward her, that would have been fine if he’d just told her that.
- We drive until my eyes close, until the tape flips again, until we finally come to a stop, in a town Josh tells me in a dreamy whisper is called Wall, and I float behind him as he holds my hand and leads me to a bed that’s not mine and I fall asleep. – Lil pg. 112
- Josh starts, “So I had this idea while I was driving last night…” My interest peaked, I’m certain he’s about to finally reveal his undying devotion to me. Or at least that he’d like to make out some time. But instead he says, “Tambourines, man. Gotta get some tambourines.” Logically. – Lil pg. 147