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Car Trouble    by Jeanne DuPrau order for
Car Trouble
by Jeanne DuPrau
Order:  USA  Can
Greenwillow, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Duff Pringle, a computer-savvy high school graduate sets off with a duffel bag, a laptop, money, a driver's license, and a used car from Richmond, Virginia heading for San Jose, California. He looks forward to a computer job with Incredibility, Inc., a start-up in high-tech Silicon Valley.

Approaching West Virginia, Duff's car breaks down. But he finds a Net ad for a driver needed to transport a classic 1957 Chevy Bel Air to a Hopgood family aunt in St. Louis. And, in a coffee shop, he meets Stu Sturvich, who is bumming his way to California. The two set out for St. Louis, and deliver the Chevy, but payment is not forthcoming. (Duff also discovers his wallet is missing.) The duo is put up for the night in the garage, where they find out that mom Hopgood served prison time for fraud on the Net. Daughter Bonnie Hopgood and her pup Moony join the duo, who drive the Chevy to deliver the girl and dog to Aunt Shirley's home in Albuquerque. Can things get worse? Of course they can.

Car Trouble is a saga of Duff's odyssey of transportation trauma and tribulations, as he tries to get to his job in San Jose by Monday morning. Along the way, he encounters colorful characters with questionable motives, and a trail of stolen money. The escapade starts slowly, builds up momentum for a bumpy ride, and then slows again towards an unexpected ending. DuPrau places her cast of characters in the right places at the wrong times, and/or the wrong places at the right times for a rollicking romp.

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