Guitar Highway Rose
Fifteen-year-old Rosie Moon lives in a small seaside town in Australia, where experiencing life is limited to walks on the beach and secretly piercing your nose. Her parents aren't getting along, her uptight mother finds it difficult to give Rosie the freedom she craves, and she's not sure how to impress the quietly rebellious new boy in her class, Asher Fielding. Asher just moved to town with his newly single mother and desperately wants to leave his restrictive new school and head back across the country to his father and his old friends.
Rosie and Asher's friendship begins when they are paired up for a poetry project, and their romance takes off when Asher is mistakenly accused of stealing. He decides to run away for the second time, his first attempt to return to his father having proved fruitless. Rosie, desperate to break away from her own small-town troubles, decides to go with him, and the two take off on a cross-country search for adventure, freedom and, of course, love.
Brigid Lowry's novel was first published in Australia, and while American readers may be a bit confused by some of the geographic references, they will also find it interesting to learn about daily life on the other side of the world, where the lingo may differ but the issues and emotions of the characters are strikingly familiar. The story is told in a series of vignettes, including everything from stream-of-consciousness thoughts to lists of the contents of someone's pockets or what someone had for breakfast. Anything that may provide a further glimpse into a character is fair game.
Some of the vignettes can be confusing, such as Asher's scattered thoughts or dialogue scenes with no speaker indicated. Also, some of the thought sequences feel unnatural at times, with characters narrating their actions to themselves as they do them or describing their emotions (apparently for our benefit), creating the feeling that we're being told what the person is thinking or doing rather than overhearing their actual thoughts. This is an interesting approach to storytelling, but at times it can come across as a self-conscious attempt at originality. Perhaps this technique was more original when the novel was first published, but with the recent popularity of books told in diary, email, list, or other unique formats, some of the creative appeal of Lowry's style is lost.
On the whole, however, the charm and good intentions of the characters --- everyone from frustrated students and teachers to struggling parents and even the occasional stranger --- make this a sweet story worth reading. There's not much of an edge to the characters, but the parents' difficulties at figuring out how to be the best parents, and the teenagers' need to explore the world around them without restrictions, are both real and very touching. After reading GUITAR HIGHWAY ROSE, readers may wish they could be the stars of their own road trip adventure/love story.
Reviewed by Emily Shaffer on October 18, 2011
Guitar Highway Rose
- Publication Date: December 31, 1969
- Genres: Fiction
- : pages