As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
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. After a harrowing plane ride, Del and Ry eventually hook up with Yulia, who offers them refuge and a boat. Without ever really second-guessing himself, Ry agrees to travel with Del to find his parents on St. Jude Island.
After traveling on a train, car, plane and boat, Ry is finally ready to find his parents and rejoin civilization. It’s never that easy, though. Ry mistakenly steers the boat off course, and Del gets seriously injured in a windmill mishap. He is once again all alone, his parents are oblivious to what is happening, and his grandfather still can’t remember anything. Who knew it was this easy to fall off the face of the earth?
In a technological age where more people are connected than ever before, you might find it impossible for Ry’s scenario to actually happen. Lynne Rae Perkins, though, makes every situation seem real. People forget cell phones all the time, Facebook is a way to maintain relationships without talking, and many of us don’t take the time to have real communication with others. AS EASY AS FALLING OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH is a fun read, but it also could be looked at as a cautionary tale. Perkins reminds us to find that common bond with one another, and then it won’t seem as though we are all alone.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche (firstname.lastname@example.org) on April 27, 2010