From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10-Robin feels totally unworthy of her rich, smart boyfriend, Chris. So, when her divorced mother starts dating and Chris goes off to Rome for summer school, the 17-year-old accepts an invitation to drive from Iowa to California with her newly widowed Aunt Dory and her cousins, 13-year-old Iris and 10-year-old Marshall, taking a circuitous route to see the country. Cramped in a car with a family still grieving, Robin finds herself in the middle of every conceivable sibling and parental dispute. Marshall and Iris are realistically nasty and unkind to one another as well as to their suffering mother and Robin. As every dysfunctional episode ensues, the teen finds that she has the ability to help them all, and with that discovery she finds the way to help herself. There is nothing new about a novel that uses the plot device of a journey as a right of passage. Zigzag has that commonplace plot filled with plain, everyday people experiencing plain and ordinary problems. Yet all four of the extended family members on the trip move from self-doubt to self-knowledge, from chaos to order. With gentle wisdom and remarkably true characters, Wittlinger's writing conveys a fundamental truth: life is a nonlinear journey that everyone takes and it is the simple choices that define a person.Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 8-12. High-school junior Robin is devastated when her college-bound boyfriend Chris chooses a study program in Rome instead of a summer in Iowa with her. Then Aunt Dory, a new widow with two children, asks Robin to join her on a cross-country car vacation. Wittlinger follows Robin through the difficult summer on the road as she grows close to Dory's grieving, troubled kids ("Superbitch" and "the next school shooter," Robin thinks as they set off); reconnects with her long-absent father; and finds new ideas for a future that doesn't revolve around Chris. Narrated in Robin's wry, likeable voice, the story pivots around a familiar formula (a teen's summer of discontent becomes a turning point of growth and discovery), but Wittlinger elevates the familiar into a moving, realistic exploration of first love, class issues, girls' self-confidence, and the process of healing. Teens will easily hear themselves in Robin's hilarious, sharp observations and feel her excitement as she travels through new country and discovers her own strength. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved