Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to InfinityKristin Elizabeth Clark Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Released: 11.08.16 Review by Eli McDonald | November 11, 2016 at 2:00 PM
“It turns out there’s a hellish amount of traffic on the way to infinity.”
Basically: After Jess’ dad reacted badly to her coming out as trans the last time they spoke, Jess swore she would never speak to him again. When he announces he is remarrying just before she heads to college however, Jess’ world is thrown into a whirlwind road trip full of new friendships, unfinished business, and more quirky roadside attractions than you can imagine.
From the moment you begin Kristin Elizabeth Clark’s Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity you feel like you are prepping the car and riding right along beside the characters. Clark uses an enthralling travel narrative in a way that allows you to learn the characters’ back stories as if you are slowly getting to know new friends. Jess’ story is told through flashbacks relating to the art portfolio she used to apply to college, along with memories of her transition, and of her father, which makes you feel like you are flipping through her scrapbook and learning what experiences have brought her to this stage of her life. Clark also perfectly develops the complex narratives of secondary characters; like Chunk, who could simply be the lovable best friend but has his own story of facing discrimination for his weight and interest in word games, or Annabelle, who could just be a quirky country girl, but is into fashion and is going to medical school.
This novel is so refreshing because it is lighthearted enough that you can never predict what is around the next corner, but it also teaches the idea that people are never who they seem to be at first glance, and you should always keep an open mind when learning about the struggle of another person. Clark’s delightful coming-of-age novel with believable characters and meaningful themes will make you wish this road trip doesn’t have to end.
In the end: Read it! As a coming of age story with a trans protagonist, it is certainly a unique tale you can’t pass up. And with its fun plot, emotional twists, and unexpected dramatic turns, this book is everything you could ever ask for.