“An avalanche of mishaps” is how I would sum up this humorous novel. It begins with Ry, a 16-year-old guy on a train bound for camp. When the train stops in the middle of nowhere for repair, Ry gets off to stretch his legs, then meanders off to explore. Bad decision. Before he realizes it, the train fires up and rolls away – without him. All he has is a cell phone with a nearly-dead battery. He tries calling his parents, who are on vacation, and his grandfather, who is supposed to be dog-sitting for a neighbor, but there is no answer. Where is everyone?
Ry manages to walk to a small town, where he meets an eccentric guy named Del, who takes him under his wing. Most of the story consists of Del and Ry’s travels here and there in their attempt to connect with either the parents or the grandfather, who seems to be missing. Most of the tale is told from the viewpoint of Ry, but occasionally the the grandfather or the two dogs take over telling.
This book was hilarious! I loved the interaction between Ry and Del as they went through one mishap after another. Some of the minor characters were fantastic. My favorite was Carl, the blind vet that they bummed a ride with. The hair-raising ride with him had me laughing till I almost cried. Although the book was written less than a decade ago, it had the feel of an earlier era, when people didn’t mind helping out someone they met on the street, and would just drop what they were doing to be a good neighbor. It was ridiculous enough to be unrealistic, but adventurous enough to keep you constantly reading until the last page.