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Why We Took the Car Hardcover – January 7, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545481805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545481809
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

German teenager Mike Klingenberg is an average student. He goes unnoticed by the other students, has an unrequited crush on the hottest girl in class, and is just a bit boring. But when Andrej Tschichatschow, aka Tschick, shows up, things change. Tschick is definitely interesting—he sleeps in class, always looks like he’s been in a fight, and just might be part of the Russian Mafia. When Mike and Tschick are not invited to popular girl Tatiana’s summer birthday party, they decide an adventure is in store. They steal a car and head out on a road trip across Germany. Do they have any idea what they’re doing? Not a clue. But this is their chance to take charge and do something. While some of their mishaps are a bit over-the-top and Tschick’s big secret is revealed without much of a punch, Mike’s journey from dull to confident teen is an enjoyable one. Well translated, this is a good choice for readers looking for a contemporary realistic novel with a humorous sense of adventure. Grades 9-12. --Sarah Bean Thompson

Review

Kirkus Starred Review
Social misfits hit the Autobahn.

Mike Klingenberg has just finished another boring, socially awkward year in middle school and is staring down a solitary two-week stint at home, thanks to his mother’s latest round of rehab and his father’s “business trip” with a suspiciously attractive personal assistant. Just as he’s watering the lawn, imagining himself lord of a very small manor in suburban Berlin, class reject Tschick shows up in a “borrowed” old Soviet-era car, and the boys hatch a plan to hit the road. Mike’s rich interior life—he meditates on beauty and the meaning of life and spins self-mocking fantasies of himself as a great essayist—hasn’t translated well to the flirtatious physical swagger required by 8th grade. Tschick, meanwhile, is a badly dressed Russian immigrant who often shows up to school reeking of alcohol and who is also given to profound leaps of psychological insight. Their road trip (destination: Wallachia, a German euphemism for “the middle of nowhere”; also a region of Romania) is peopled by unexpected, often bizarre, largely benign characters who deepen Mike’s appreciation for humanity and life. Each episode in the boys’ journey grows more outrageous, leading readers to wonder how far they’ll go before coming to a literal screeching (and squealing) halt.

In his first novel translated into English, Herrndorf sits squarely and triumphantly at the intersection of literary tall tale and coming-of-age picaresque.


Publishers Weekly Starred Review
German novelist Herrndorf makes his YA (and U.S.) debut with this action- and emotion-packed story of surprise summer adventure. When German eighth-grader Mike Klingenberg discovers that he’s among the few “Boring kids and losers... Russians, Nazis and idiots” who are not invited to his crush Tatiana’s birthday party, he is devastated. Mike is facing a miserable summer, with his mother in rehab and father away at a “business meeting” with his sexy assistant, when his new Russian classmate, Tschick (whom Mike considers “trash”), arrives at his house in a stolen car. An unlikely compatibility leads to a candy-fueled road trip, complicated by their lack of a map or cell phone. Driving all over Germany, the boys face conundrums like avoiding the police, buying gas and food when clearly underage, and vaguely seeking Tschick’s grandfather. Prepared by life to expect ill will, Mike and Tschick instead meet “almost only people from the one percent who weren’t bad.” Beginning at the end, with Mike narrating the explanation suggested by the title, this alternately wild, sad, hilarious, and tender tale chronicles the development of a strange and beautiful friendship.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bill Baker on February 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Say you're an unpopular kid whose mom is drying out in a facility and your dad has just left you alone for two summer weeks to go on a `business trip' with his secretary.

You're bored, you weren't invited to this hot girl's party, and then, say, this new kid that no one likes pulls up in a car - but he's supposedly too young to drive - and not just any car, but an old junker he `borrowed.'

Then he invites you to take off, to go visit one of his uncles somewhere - and you know what? You do!

What follows is the best week of your life - from crazy drives on the turnpike to slow ones through fields and woods - and along the way you get chased by the cops, get messed with my a nut truck driver, and meet a girl you can't get over.

This is one wild book you won't want to miss!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Another great book by Wolfgang Herrndorf is thrilling, entertaining, funny and sad.
I couldn't put it down. I read it in one day and one night.
Great reading for teenagers and adults!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Fantastic book. Reminded me of Catcher in the Rye a little bit. Had the same flavor, the same kind of kids with questions and issues. I read this for book club and am really glad our German member gave us some German authors to choose from, otherwise I probably never would have found it. Definitely worth the read and probably better appreciated by adults (although teens would like it too.)
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By Nonny de la Pena on June 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Extremely clever and full of subtlety that I am afraid other reviewers may have missed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Somewhat interesting but the plotting and characters are a bit haphazard. Still, worth the read. Looking forward to the next book.
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