Reviewed by John Orr
Triviana, June 2012
Well, this is an unusual book. "Thou Shalt Not Road Trip" is a coming-of-age story about a 16-year-old boy who becomes an international sensation when he writes a kind of tongue-in-cheek book about faith, and a lot of desperate people think he is an actual prophet of God or somesuch.
And, of course, he may be an actual prophet, but he himself has no such knowledge. He is a bright kid dealing with all the usual stuff of 16-year-olds, including hormones and sex and so forth.
Young Luke (where have we heard those two words before?) is sent on a book tour by his publisher, and his older brother is enlisted to be the adult, more or less. But the older brother, Matt, brings along his girlfriend, and also Matt's former love interest, Fran.
They hit the road in a bright yellow Hummer, and Luke is suddenly under a lot of stress.
It's a fun, charming read. Here is a passage from the book young Luke wrote:
"Lessons 15: 7-12
7. For there were two brothers. And yea, one was shorter than the other, and weaker. 8. And though he bestowed upon his big brother gifts of kindness and thoughtfulness and love, yet did the taller boy mock him, lamenting, 'Why art thou so short? Art thou a leprechaun?' 9. And the shorter brother was too much afeared to speak. 10. So the strong boy laughed, and cried, 'What art thou good for? What can thou do that cannot be done far better by a boy of true stature, whose mind and body are strong?' 11. And thou he was still afeared, yet the smaller boy recalled the events of the previous evening, and so girded his loins and spake thus: 'Remember thee, 'tis easier for a short man to pass through the eye of a cat flap when he misseth curfew, and thereby to avoid parental detection and retribution.' 12. And the taller brother knew that it was true and shutteth up."
Cute, right? Luke had written his book for a class, was encouraged to write more, and it was published, and he was famous.
He was not prepared for the desperate wish-to-believe of so many people. The crowds of believers freak him out.
Plus, the one-time love of his life, Fran, has turned into a punk, with purple hair and lots of piercings, none of which appeal to a straight-arrow church kid such as Luke.
But, as Luke Skywalker had to go into the forest to confront his fears, so does Luke have to confront what Fran means to him, and has to learn a lot about true friendship and real human values.
A lot of wild stuff happens, and it's a very good read.