From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–Computer whiz Duff Pringle, 17, has a used car and six days to get from Virginia to California where a job awaits him creating computer games. When he breaks down shortly after he sets out, he finds someone who has a car that needs to be driven to St. Louis. He picks up Stu, a seemingly harmless drifter, who turns out to be a blessing and a curse. During the ride, Duff explains that he doesn't have time for girls, but in reality he simply doesn't know how to talk to them. In St. Louis, Duff meets Bonnie, the teenage daughter of the vehicle's owner, a con artist hospitalized in Virginia. She decides to travel with the guys to California where she can stay with an aunt. Slowly Duff begins to break out of his shell and to have a relationship with her. His transition does not occur with the push of a button; instead it takes place over real-time, and even though there's no job when he reaches California, readers know that his life is on the right track. Ending with hope, Car Trouble
is a good read that is kept moving by strong characters who steer the flow of the story.–Tracy Karbel, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL
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Gr. 7-10. Recent high-school grad and computer-whiz Duff Pringle is on a cross-country road trip, headed from home in Richmond, Virginia, to a California job designing the next-generation something or other for a company that modestly calls itself "Incredibility, Inc." Alas, real life doesn't run as smoothly as a computer program, and, in short order, Duff's battered old Ford breaks down, he meets a fast-talking hitchhiker in a wild shirt, loses his wallet in a scary biker restaurant, finds himself stranded in St. Louis, and, well, that's just the tip of an iceberg of troubles. The author of the well-received sf novels The City of Ember
(2003) and The People of Sparks (2004), DuPrau also shows a nice flair for humorous, character-driven, realistic fiction. Although there are more smiles than guffaws in this sometimes slow-moving story, teens will find Duff good company and will be glad to go along with him for the ride. Michael CartCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved