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The Other Way Around (Fiction - Young Adult) Hardcover – March 1, 2014

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"The Tragic Age: A Novel"
Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sixteen-year-old Andrew is overwhelmed. His parents? They’re divorced, and he is in the middle. His school? It’s primarily a girls’ school, and he can’t get a date. What’s worse is that his mom is the principal. His education? He is repeatedly told he is not applying himself. His outlook? Uninspired. At Thanksgiving, Andrew’s jerky cousin visits, declares him gay, and wets his bed. There’s only one way to end the madness: to run away. At the bus station, Andrew meets a group of older hippie-esque teens who live life on terms that would make his mother chug her wine. They busk for cash, dumpster dive for food, and live in an old camper van as they travel across the country. Andrew takes off with them, expecting to have an interesting, if not uplifting, adult-free adventure. As the troupe goes from town to town, he learns about making choices and dealing with their consequences; gaining and losing a person’s love and trust; and ultimately, accepting responsibility. In the process, the weight of others’ expectations is lessened by discovering what he expects of himself. Kaufman offers an interesting twist to the coming-of-age story by combining Andrew’s rereading of Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild (1997) with an on-the-road tale. Often frank, other times startling, always filled with the familiar wanderlust most every teen experiences, this book has wheels. Grades 8-12. --Jeanne Fredriksen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (March 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1467702625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1467702621
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sashi Kaufman is a middle school science and English teacher who lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and daughter. She loves contemporary YA, survival stories of all kinds, and journeys large and small. She is an amateur trash-picker and apologizes now if she has ever poached anything you did not mean to leave on the curb. She hates caraway seeds.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lucy (Reading Date) on March 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Sometimes life just isn’t going your way and you don’t know how to dig yourself out. If you’re Andrew, you make a Thanksgiving dinner escape and join a group of circus performing Freegans for a road trip adventure.

Andrew has been in a funk since his parents’ divorce. He lives with his mom, who is also the headmaster at the all-girls school he attends. He’s always in trouble for not living up to his potential, and when his bullying cousin ruins Thanksgiving he can’t take it anymore. An impromptu plan to visit his beloved Grandma is a bust once Andrew’s mom confesses that Grandma died this week. With Into the Wild in tow, he hitches a ride for a journey of self-discovery with the band of teenage misfits he meets at the bus station.

I first found out about this book around Thanksgiving time when I was looking for books/movies centered on that holiday. It seems like many Thanksgiving family dinners are awkward affairs, and in this book things are so bad Andrew takes off before the dinner even begins! Road trip books are such great backdrops for coming of age stories, and this wayward journey is just what Andrew needs to find himself.

Andrew doesn’t have the best social skills and is shy and awkward at school. This fresh start with a van full of strangers shows him compassion and gives him a boost of confidence that he can make friends, survive on his own, and make a difference. This makeshift family includes teens that ran away for a variety of reasons, and helps Andrew to see life from a new perspective.

On the road, the group earns their supper by working on a farm, street performing, and washing dishes in a restaurant. A lot of their food on the road comes from dumpster diving in the back of big-box stores.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ValerieFM on March 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
THE OTHER WAY AROUND is hands-down my favorite contemporary of 2014. It's about a boy who runs away from home to hit the road with a group of vegan, trash-picking street performers. I loved not only the road trip story, but the organic and rich alternative life Andrew tumbles into. It was a lovely, and unique, way to rebel against his uptight, by-the-books mother.
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Format: Hardcover
The thing about this book is that I liked pretty much all of it: I liked the writing, I liked the main character, I liked most of the secondary characters, I liked the story, but there never anything, except very close to the end, that had me dying to pick up the book and know what would happen next. Maybe that’s not a bad thing? Not every book has to be compulsively readable and, at least with this book, all of the things I liked about outweighed my lack of desire to know what happened next.

Andrew, the main character, is in the strange position of attending an all-girls school. His mother is the headmaster and has been tasked with transitioning the school from a single-sex school to a co-educational school so Andrew, and a few other sons of faculty/staff members, are the male trailblazers. I’m sure lots of guys would view this as an incredible opportunity, but Andrew is kind of weird and awkward and while not unattractive, also not the guy that all the girls are lusting after. Mostly they just ignore him. The problem is that Andrew’s divorced parents also mostly ignore him and Andrew is sick and tired of his life. After a particularly horrible Thanksgiving with his family (seriously, they’re nuts) Andrew decides to run away to visit his grandmother, the only family member he likes.

At the bus station Andrew meets this motley crew of teenagers and decides to exchange his bus ticket and head out onto the road with them. They drive around in this old VW bus and are “freegans,” people who dig through trash to find food and other goods and who shun capitalist, consumer culture. When I first met the freegans I could have sworn there were 50 of them, but in reality it was just five other people.
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