For sixteen-year-old Jenna Boller, shoes aren't just something you wear on your feet-- they are a way of life. She's never been the prettiest girl on the block or the smartest one in school, but for the last year at Gladstone's Shoe Store in Chicago, she has proven that she can sell anything to anybody! The sign over the door proclaims:
"We're not just selling shoes, we're selling quality."
This is a slogan that Jenna has taken to heart as she puts her "sole" into every customer she waits on and every pair of shoes she sells. If only the problems with her family were as easy to handle as work. For a young girl, Jenna has a lot on her plate-a grandmother with Alzheimer's that she visits on a weekly basis, a mother who works the night shift as a nurse to try to make ends meet, and a deadbeat dad who's in and out of the picture so randomly she can't know if or when he'll show up. So, when her alcoholic father shows up at work and makes a scene, Jenna's sure she'll lose the job that means so much to her. However, Mrs. Gladstone, the feisty septuagenarian owner of the store, sees something in Jenna that she likes and instead of firing her, she asks her to be her personal driver for the summer and escort her from Chicago to Dallas-a cross-country road trip to visit all of the Gladstone's Shoe Stores on the way to a stockholder's meeting.
Jenna, whose most prized possession is her driver's license which she got just 6 months ago, jumps at the chance to take a break from the family drama that is weighing her down. Although the responsible part of her worries about leaving her mom and her sister to deal with her father and grandmother on their own, she knows this is something she has to do for herself.
As Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone start off on their journey, the duo has no idea what's in store for them; the upcoming road trip is one that will change both of them forever. The relationship that develops between Jenna and Mrs. Gladstone is a great example of how you can find friends in the most unexpected places and grow beyond what you thought was possible for yourself. I loved that the novel is filled with little "nuggets" of insight that Jenna learns from the people in her life and that she picks up during her road trip. Sometimes they were things that she figured out herself and sometimes they were things that others actually told her--these became Jenna's "rules of the road." I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jenna's progression from a gawky teenager into a self-confident young woman and would recommend you take a trip with Jenna as well!
In the meantime, if you want to read other road trip books check out some of these titles: So B. It by Sarah Weeks; Two Way Street by Laura Barnholdt; and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. All titles are available in our collection.
Recommended by Brandy Walton