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As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth Hardcover – April 27, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780061870903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061870903
  • ASIN: 0061870900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,381,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up This is a story of one misfortune after another. As the book opens, Ry, a 16-year-old Wisconsin resident en route to camp, is left behind in Middle-of-Nowhere, MT, as his stalled train pulls out and he recounts the events that led him to leave the train in the first place. Bad goes to worse: he loses a shoe and his phone charger, his grandfather back home is injured, and his parents are having their own misadventures in the Caribbean. A superhero of a fix-it guy named Del helps Ry to put his life back together. Along the way, readers learn that there is more to Del than initially meets the eye. The story is told in a traditional, episodic style, bouncing from one calamity to the next. The narration occasionally switches perspective to include the grandfather's tale of woe as well as well-drawn graphic-style portrayals of the family dogs' mishaps. The style is reminiscent of Chris Crutcher's, and the action is evocative of Gary Paulsen, but the freewheeling prose, quirky humor, and subtle life lessons are all Perkins's own. This novel is not going to be every teen boy's cup of tea, but its charms are undeniable. Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Ry opens a letter en route to a summer program informing him that camp has been canceled because “a statistically improbable number of things have gone wrong.“ He hops off the train in Montana to figure out what to do, and his own series of improbable misfortunes begins—the train moves on without him (but with all his stuff), leaving him alone with a dying cell phone in the precise middle of nowhere. Oh, and one of his shoes just floated off down a river. He befriends a man named Del, who figures there's nothing he can't fix (when it comes to other people's problems, anyway). They set off on a cross-country road trip to get Ry back home and then, due to any number of minor and major catastrophes, to an island in the Caribbean. Ever-placid Del and milquetoast Ry make for affable traveling companions, but the real pleasure is Perkins' relentlessly entertaining writing. She dabbles just on the clever side of intruding on the narrative, and she infuses her prose with more personality than many could squeeze out of an entire cast. The knock against her Newbery-winning Criss Cross (2006) was a lack of plot, and although a lot of things happen here, it would be a stretch to call this leisurely novel plot-driven. The point is that it doesn't matter, and wallowing in the wry humor, small but potent truths, and cheerful implausibility is an absolute delight. Grades 8-11. --Ian Chipman

Customer Reviews

I found all of the characters engaging.
Nancy Madlin
The parents leave no itinerary, seem only slightly concerned that they can't contact the grandfather, and never try to reach their son.
N. B. Kennedy
The characters don't develop and the story is bland.
Elizabeth W Boyles

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on June 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover

Ry only intended to be off the train for a moment. He had a quick phone call to make to his grandfather, and then it was back on the train. The call went to the answering machine and the train took off --- without Ry. Now, lost somewhere in Montana, Ry is in trouble. His parents are off on a Caribbean sailing adventure, his grandfather has fallen in a hole and suffered a concussion, and Ry has no place to turn except an old driveway he happens upon. In that driveway is someone who turns out to be his salvation --- Del.


Del is a jack-of-all-trades who agrees to help Ry get back to his home in Wisconsin. Ry and Del pile into his old Jeep station wagon, and it's an instant road trip. Ry has no idea what has happened to his grandfather --- and neither does his grandfather, who has suffered amnesia --- and can only imagine what is happening with his parents. Del and Ry suffer minor setbacks on their road trip, namely hitchhiking with a lunatic, but eventually make it to Wisconsin and stumble upon Ry's worst nightmare. The answering machine reveals that Ry's parents are stuck in St. Jude as they await replacement passports, and his grandfather has no idea where he is and may be potentially hurt. Del declares that he and Ry will head to the Caribbean to find his parents, and that's that.


If you've ever been on a long road trip, you know that you eventually end up learning a lot about the people you travel with. Ry learns that Del has a soft spot for a mysterious Yulia, who happens to be on the way, and he has friends in all places. Friends with airplanes that can cross a small part of the ocean and land on some islands off the Florida coast.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Dear Roy,Do not come to camp. There is no camp. Camp is a concept that no longer exists in a real place or time.We are so sorry. The Summer ArchaeoTrails Program will not take place. A statistically improbable number of things have gone wrong and the camel's back is broken. Your money will be fully refunded as soon as I sell my car and remortgage my house..."

By time the story begins and Ry is once again reading the letter, a statistically improbable number of things have already begun to go wrong for him, too. The train transporting him from the Midwest to the now-nonexistent summer camp in Montana had been delayed in the middle of nowhere. When he accidentally found this last letter stuffed in his backpack, read it, and tried to immediately call his grandfather from the train, there were no bars of reception on his cell phone. Hearing that the train delay was going to be at least forty minutes, he'd stepped off the train and climbed a nearby hill to try and get some reception. Now, inexplicably, the train has suddenly departed -- with all his stuff -- before he can get back down the hill to it. His phone is already very low on power and even if the charger were not on the train, there is absolutely no sight of civilization -- other than silent train tracks -- from where he is sitting.

This would still not be that much of a problem (or a story) had his family not just moved to a new town where he knows nobody. This would still not be that much of a problem (or a story) had his grandfather -- who came to their new house to dog-sit and who is, just about at this moment, suffering a memory-scrambling concussion -- been available to answer the phone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By octobercountry on October 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow, talk about an adventure---just about everything that can possibly go wrong, does, in this rather unlikely story---with extremely amusing results. But you'll find yourself rooting for the main characters, especially Ry, who reacts to every trouble with outward calm, even if he's panicking inside.

The story is enlivened by the occasional illustration in comic book style. There is one tiny sub-plot, seen from the point of view of a pair of dogs, that is told only through drawings, and it's pretty funny.

I won't over-analyse the story here; other Amazon reviewers have talked about the novel with greater skill than I possess. I'll just say I LOVED THIS BOOK; recommended.

The dust jacket illustration is fantastic; appealing and dynamic and the little drawn-in plane and boat made me smile. Best cover design I've seen for ages.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karen Keyte VINE VOICE on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Wait a minute. Was the - had the train just moved?"

It seemed like a good idea, getting off the train. The conductor said they would be stopped there for forty minutes. It wasn't going to take that long. He was being cautious, reasonable even. He had a plan. Fifteen-year-old Ry was well on his way to The Summer ArchaeoTrails program when he finally opened the last letter from the camp director and found out that camp had been cancelled. He decided to call his grandfather, who's house and dog sitting while Ry's parents are on a sailing vacation in the Caribbean. He figured his grandfather would know what he should do. Only Ry can't get any cell reception on the train out here in the middle of nowhere, Montana. So when a minor mechanical glitch forced an unscheduled stop, and Ry saw a hill where reception might be possible - well, like I said, it seemed like a good idea. And yet, here he is, alone, no backpack (it's still on the train), no one answering the phone back home and his cell battery slowly dying.

This inauspicious start launches the most improbable, fantastical summer of Ry's life. Stranded and alone, with no way to reach his parents or his grandfather (who, as it turns out, are all having troubles of their own), Ry begins an epic adventure ruled by the inevitable Murphy's Law. Ry is lucky enough to pick up an ally and traveling companion, Del, -a "ninja, cowboy fix-it-man" who believes nothing is impossible. Together, Ry and Del will face a host of obstacles as they answer the question, 'What lengths would you go to in order to get back to the people you love?
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