Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston

Rating (Out of 5): ~1.5
Publisher: Zondervan

 A review copy provided by Goodreads First Reads Giveaways.
Goodreads Synopsis:

A very bumpy ride.

Emily Curtis is used to dealing with her problems while under the hood of an old Chevy, but when her mom dies, Emily's world seems shaken beyond repair. Driven from home by hospital bills they can't pay, Emily and her dad move in with his wealthy sister, who intends to make her niece more feminine---in other words, just like Whitney, Emily's perfect cousin. But when Emily hears the engine of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, and sees the cute gearhead, Zander, next door, things seem to be looking up.

But even working alongside Zander can't completely fix the hole in Emily's life. Ever since her mom died, Emily hasn't been able to pray, and no one---not even Zander---seems to understand. But sometimes the help you need can come from the person you least expect.

I won this online, and it actually sounded good. Emily sounded like she was going through some stuff, and even though I know nothing about cars, I find it interesting when I read a book with a girl who likes them, mostly because I like tomboys and that's how entertainment type things tend to make tomboys. With a boy hobby. And, of course, I missed the one sentence that portrayed that this book was going to be about religion. I should have payed more attention.
So, the books about Emily, who, along with her father, has to move in with her aunts family after her mother dies. She's feeling upset about her mother, not close with her father, and like everyone is criticizing her. And then she meets Zander, who likes cars and goes to church and is, like, the cutest boy at her new school (or whatever. This is pointed out a couple of times, and I couldn't help but roll my eyes). But Emily is also having trouble connecting with God, as she feels that he has abandoned her and no one knows how she feels, and of course she can't talk to anyone about it. Even though there are two people at her church, as well as her father and aunt and cousin and Zander who want to help her.
Okay, first off, I'm going to start with the religious part. (Just to let you know, I am not religious. And so that it probably why I did not like this part of the book. Maybe, if you are, you wouldn't mind it as much.) A lot of this book focused on religion, and how Emily can't talk to God anymore, and so obviously he has abandoned her after her mother died, because what other solution could she get? But, oh, wait, [Spoiler] maybe God's actually been there all along and she hasn't noticed? Despite the fact that she ignored the signs beforehand, and when Zander told her, and only when Jenna from church suggested it, not much different than Zander had (only maybe without personal experience and more as a third person point of view). And so maybe actually she's having a hard time because she doesn't have her garage sanctuary anymore where she could clear her head, but obviously he has been there all along.
God, I could not stand this. It was the same thing, over and over and over again. She can't feel God's presence anymore after her mother died, and so he has abandoned her. And even though several people have tried to talk to her, she feels that they are being pushy, and that of course no one understands what she's going through, and no one besides herself has ever been unsure of their religion. It's all her. She's so different from everyone else. Poor Emily.
I could not stand Emily. For a while, I didn't mind her. But then she got all whiny about everything that I mentioned above, and I was almost disgusted. It was all about her and yada yada yada. Whatever, Emily. And it's stated a while in that she doesn't let people in, that she is keeping herself miserable. Which, while a bit true, I don't think was as fully blown of an idea as it could have been. And she isn't a tomboy. Yea, she likes cars and doesn't wear dresses or heels or makeup. Whatever. She's dramatic and overreacts to everything; she's way too emotional.
The car scenes weren't bad. There aren't a whole lot of them, at least not described. They were mostly for her to be around Zander, maybe her dad, and by herself. And they weren't overdone with technical terms or anything. I mean, yea, some parts were named, but that was mostly it.
I did like Zander. He was a happy-go-lucky guy, and I like them. And him and Emily's banter was pretty fun. But then he got all 'pushy' about God, and even after he told Emily the same things as Jenna, he totally agreed and was like 'what, really?'. Although I think that was more bad writing than bad characterizing. And, despite his chemistry with Emily, the romance wasn't very good. Or, it wasn't described very well. Because, it doesn't matter what anyone says, describing kissing as their lips brushing against each other, is not going to give me butterflies-in-the-tummy. Now, granted, I do read smut novels (which, you know, has full blown stuff), but I've also read lots of young adult novels with good romance. But lips brushing against each other does not equate to kissing; there is more to it than that. And just stating that, with no more description, is not, in any way, a good make out scene. I was very disappointed by this, because I'd hoped there would at least be some good romance with Zander, since I liked him.
Plus, [Spoiler!] they have a fight over half way through the book. Emily overreacts to this thing that she hears about him and her cousin, and then goes on to think that he really only thinks about her as his 'witness tool', as a way to God, a good thing to do at the church, maybe even something for her cousin. While I had never heard of this before, at least not called this, I got gist of what she meant. And I still did not quite understand. Because, do people actually do that? Use people to get closer to God or whatever? Why would someone do that? Really, it mostly sounded like the stupidest excuse to push someone away.
And, then, the fight. The fight was stupid, as I said above, and then it just kept going. [Spoiler!] They just kept talking, being all 'is that what you really think of me?' 'well, I guess that's it then' 'yea, I guess it is'. My god, it was ridiculous. I mean, it could have been done much more dramatic or overblown, or at least with a big exit, but instead they just kept talking. I guess, like they were hoping the other would stop it or something. But there was just too much. I was like, get on with it already.
And then after the fight? Emily practically gives up. He won't look at her, so obviously he hates her and there's no hope. We get, like, one scene of her trying to talk to him about cars, where he won't give in, and so she give up again. Except, of course, to pray to God to bring him back to her. She has to go lean on God to do it for her instead of actually trying to talk to him about what happened.
We don't get a lot of Chuck, Emily's uncle, but we see her aunt and cousin quite a bit. Her aunt, Darlene, a bit like her Grandma, is always telling her that she should wear better clothes and do something with her hair and wear make up and all that. And she makes Emily feel like a charity case, which is uncool of her. And then they excuse it by saying that she wasn't being a good Christian, and she's going to stop. Um, yea, that's one way to explain it. And we see a lot of Whitney, her cousin, who is a bit awesome. She's a little spoiled, which is to be expected, and she's a cheerleader, but she's also a good girl, and nice. Emily misjudges her, and even when she finds out that she's nice, she doesn't do a whole lot to get closer to her. And Emily's friend, Chelsea, is pretty cool. We heard of her friend from school, Megan, and they exchange texts every once in a while, but we barely see or hear from her in the book. That seems a bit like a missed opportunity.
But Emily just isn't a very good friend. She doesn't listen to Chelsea, she pretends to listen to distract herself at one point, and she makes very little effort to support Chelsea, or comfort her, because she doesn't understand and she's jealous that she has a mom while hers has died. She has great people around her, these two being good examples of a friend, and she completely ignores it.
I've stated this several times, but that's pretty much all Emily thinks about. She's just so different from everyone. She has a weird hobby, cars, which everyone will think is weird, and no one understands how she feels after her mother passed away or now that she's second-guessing God. She's just all alone in the world. And it drove me crazy.
Oh, her dad. Her dad doesn't talk to her enough, which I think is a little true. He should have made more of an effort to go through her mother's death with her, instead of avoiding talking about it. But Emily should also understand that it isn't bad of him to want to talk to a counselor, or the pastor, about it. Because, really, there are some things that parents can't talk to their kids about, like kids can't talk to their parents about everything. (She makes a huge deal about this, and then it like, 'oh, it's alright, I overreacted' at the end. Um, yea, you overreacted about everything.)
And her dad seemed fine with taking things from his sister. Yea, it's nice of them to take them in and pay for everything, but I would think he'd be a little uncomfortable with it, especially since it made Emily feel like a charity case. (And at the end? After [Spoiler!] Emily has blown up at her aunt already, and then assumes she hates her? She suddenly feels bad about it, and now feels grateful for all that she's done. When did she realize this? She didn't, that's when. It just came out, because she felt bad about how she said it the first time, like everything else that's spoken at the end.)
Also, the last part of the book annoyed me. It happened way too fast. [Spoiler] She has a huge 'breakthrough' over whatever with Jenna after making a scene, and then she makes up with Zander, and then something happens to her dad. The whole scene with Zander didn't work, and neither did most of the making up scenes with her dad. Because suddenly, with no reason as to why, they understand what they did wrong and are sorry about it. She didn't have some big epiphany, and we never saw Zander have one either. And the thing that happened with her dad? Seemed like a cop-out to bring things to a close, something big for her and everyone to make up. It was lame.
And Clipston was a bit repetitive. A couple of the phrases she used several times, and I can't remember any that were new to me, or that were used with much of a flourish to make them refreshing and not like I'd heard them before. And, there weren't a whole bunch, but there were several spelling mistakes, or several where a word was missing. A bit more than there should have been.
And I had a terrible time getting through it, since I know I have several other books that are so much better that I could have been spending my time reading instead. And mostly it was because of the religious parts (and Emily), because there was so much of it. And it was always Sunday. Maybe they'd do something for the weekend, she'd hang out with Zander some, or maybe some time would pass, and then it would be Sunday, again. It's always time for church in this book.
Maybe I'm a bit bitter, since I could not wait to get done with this book. And I am not a church or religious person, so I'm sure that is also biasing my judgment. But it was still badly written. It was just bad, okay? Not for me, obviously.


  1. I mean no disrespect here, but it sounds like this book wasn't really your type of read to begin with if you aren't into religion. I read the book and it touched me deeply. I have sort of lost sight of my religion in the past, so I could relate to Emily. It helped me learn to pray again. The book is intended for young adults and I actually know of a few churches in my area that have encouraged their youth groups to read it.
    I think Amy Clipston's writing is fantastic and find it hard to believe you found spelling mistakes and missing words. I actually own the book and would be interested in seeing the mistakes. I applaud you as an editor if you found mistakes!
    I have read all of Amy Clipston's other books and really enjoy her style. She makes me feel like I personally know the characters. There is no smut in her books either which is refreshing!
    I always like reading reviews of books that I have read. I was very surprised at your opinion of this book because I have heard nothing but great things about it. Thanks for the review.Happy New Year!

  2. [Reply to Anonymous]
    It wasn't my type of book, you're right, but I didn't know it was a religious book when I started, so I had to finish it when I found out.
    Thank you for your comment, though, even if you didn't agree with me. Happy New Year!