Road Trip, Lynette D’Amico
Twelve Winters Press, 2015
Reviewed by Julie Demoff-Larson
Ever have a relationship that you hang onto just because it is comfortable or maybe it is a crutch that you lean on way too much. Maybe it is a reason you aren’t moving forward? Maybe it is a security blanket—like a beat-up old Casper the friendly ghost stuffed animal that has seen better days? Whatever it is, imagine this relationship and the family history you inherit as your identity. Road Trip by Lynette D’Amico explores this very theme with rich, dynamic characters and a strong narrative that is lyrical at times and candid in others .
Road Trip is two—almost three—stories in one. The main thread is a telling of the relationship between the narrator, Myra Stark, and her best friend, Pinkie. D’Amico equally focuses on their differences and similarities that make these complex characters intriguing. Her use of contemporary, and sometimes edgy, storytelling is a sharp contrast to the secondary thread that takes us through a Stark family time capsule that includes old photos and dates and deaths and stories of hardship.
Road Trip maneuvers through a fog, taking the reader from scene to scene without revealing direction or what is coming next. But the real beauty is how D’Amico removes the story from the now and into haunting images and little snippets set in the past, weaving the two together until they meet at the end.
“The fog comes out after dark from the river or the gorges or the peaty boggy ghostly land. It’s not a fluffy, fun fog, billows and pillows of shape-shifting like balloon animals: a poodle, a teddy bear, a puffy giraffe. This is hard-edge fog, dense as water; a fog that can corrode asphalt and lead a car hurtling seventy miles per hour right over a cliff into the river.”
It is almost impossible to leave this story without reflecting on the idea that D”Amico wrote this as a sort of feminist manifesto—at least that is what I take from it. The idea that a woman can do it on their own, can set the world ablaze, and break out of the box of society’s demands rings loud and clear.
“I used to wish that I had my own chair. A chair in my mind. It was my chair. Not a fancy, insubstantial stick chair. Not a too soft, too big, cushy chair I could not climb out of. Just a chair. Mine. I could go sit in my chair and be quiet.”
A time to reflect. A time to grow. D’Amico throws in these nice bits throughout the story. She even creates a character just to have a reason to explore this theme with greater emphasis. However, the short story within the story about Carmella, a woman they pick up on the side of the road, is a bit overwrought and doesn’t quite add anything to the actual storyline. D’Amico is trying to add to the feminist narrative here, and although it is fantastical in its own right, it seems to bog down the flow.
Although the story gets a little jumbled and difficult to follow at the end, the beauty of D’Amico’s writing helps to sort it all out. Road Trip is an exploration of love, friendship, growth, and roots. It is a journey of laughs and tears and breaking free. So good. So good.