It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. Not because I haven’t been reading although I must confess my stock of fresh books to read has grown thin—it’s time to go to some writer’s conferences so that I can buy more signed copies of some really great books.
However, I did find one lonely book tucked away that I hadn’t read before. Crossing Montana, by Laura Torres is a book I picked up several years ago and I have no idea why it didn’t get read.
Crossing Montana is about a fifteen-year-old girl named Callie Gray. It’s a touching story that made me appreciate my childhood. Callie’s life is far from perfect. Her mom is scatter-brained and leaves Callie to care for her nine-year-old step-brother more often than not.
The story starts with Callie being told that her grandpa is missing. Callie and her mom pack quickly and the three of them drive to Idaho where grandma lives in order to help out. Mom gets tired and can’t handle the drive. Rather than stop at a motel to rest, she has Callie drive. It’s not her first time driving a car. Once they get there, all Grandma and Mom do is reminisce about Jack (Callie’s deceased dad) and worry that grandpa has done the same thing.
Also in Idaho, near grandma is a boy named Raf (short for Rafael) who Callie has known forever and they’ve developed a budding relationship. Callie’s family is dysfunctional with a capitol D, and she wishes her family was more like Raf’s. He proves to be a true friend.
Unable to sleep and frustrated by her adults’ non-action, Callie forms her own plan. She steals money, a credit card—and the car from her mom and takes off on a cross-country drive to find her grandpa and bring him home.
She hits a snag when she discovers that her little brother ‘Stink’ has stowed away in the trunk. Callie is the only mom he’s ever known and he’s afraid to be left behind. Callie does find grandpa—he’s drunk. She also discovers how her dad really died, and fears that she’s a lot more like him than anyone understands.
The story doesn’t end with all of Callie’s problems magically being fixed—her family is still dysfunctional, but she has hope that now that she knows the truth about her father and the past, their family can seek counseling and grow into a better future.
This was not one of those sugar coated stories where the main characters’ biggest worry is being grounded on Friday night. It handles the difficulties that far too many children face with tact yet it didn’t feel contrived or watered down. It was a good read and compelling to the end.