Summer officially begins on June 20th, but I always feel like the season starts on June 1st. What better way to start this fun time of the year with a book about a summer road trip.

WRONG WAY SUMMER takes some pleasing turns as #vanlife takes a father and his two children on circuitous route from Michigan eastward then west all the way to California.

A rarity in MG books—it’s the Mom who years before ditched the family and hasn’t been heard from since. Twelve-year-old Claire knows there was a divorce but nothing else. Eight year old Patrick adores Dad and his made-up stories. He’s sure this road trip is all about reconnecting with Mom. Claire has about had it with her Father’s stories and wants answers.

The pace is just right and you gain a real bond with the characters by book’s end. WRONG WAY SUMMER pokes at your emotions and you’ll be glad you rode along on this road trip.

Here’s the official blurb:

Claire used to love her dad’s fantastical stories, especially tales about her absent mom—who could be off with the circus or stolen by the troll king, depending on the day. But now that she’s 12, Claire thinks she’s old enough to know the truth. When her dad sells the house and moves her and her brother into a converted van, she’s tired of the tall tales and refuses to pretend it’s all some grand adventure, despite how enthusiastically her little brother embraces this newest fantasy. Claire is faced with a choice: Will she play along with the stories her dad is spinning for her little brother, or will she force her family to face reality once and for all? Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, Wrong Way Summer is a road-trip journey and coming-of-age story about one girl’s struggle to understand when a lie is really a lie and when it’s something more: hope.

BOOK BIRTHDAY: April 21, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 288


  1. The third person narration stays with Claire most of the time (only straying when Dad goes into one of his stories. It provides insights to the frustrations and coming of age challenges for a tween who has more questions than most her age.
  2. Patrick is a real hoot. He’ll remind many of the younger sibling in their own family.
  3. I’ll never be traveling the country in an RV, but after reading this story I understood why many choose to live this way.
  4. Dad is kind of out there in another world, but his character arc brings him back to what is most important—his two children.
  5. The author notes in the back are not be missed. Ms. Lang’s summary of how this story came to be are insightful and revealing.


Heidi Lang believes that the next Grand Adventure is always just around the corner. She has chased her love of judo from the east to the west coast, run ultra marathons, started her own dog walking business, and converted a Sprinter van into a tiny home so she could experience #vanlife. Currently she lives in eastern Washington with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. She is the co-author of THE MYSTIC COOKING CHRONICLES series (A DASH OF DRAGON, A HINT OF HYDRA, and A PINCH OF PHOENIX), and the WHISPERING PINES series (forthcoming September 2020) as well as the author of RULES OF THE RUFF and WRONG WAY SUMMER.


Comments are welcome below. Are you planning a road trip this summer?

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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7 Responses to WRONG WAY SUMMER

  1. What a fun story to launch the summer! It reminds me a bit of the Someday Birds. A lot of kids will travel by RV on road trips — which was fancy to me. I traveled in a car pulling a pop-up tent/camper. Loved it as a kid, but not as an adult.

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a really unique story! Books about road trips always appeal to me, but I never remember to read any of them. Thanks for the great review!

  3. I really liked this book as well. This family and their problems are so complex, but Heidi Lang did a great job telling this story. Thanks for your thoughts. It is a great summer read.

  4. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I was just thinking I needed a road trip book to read this summer as we won’t be taking one this year. This one sounds like I will enjoy it.

  5. Sounds like a great story with heart. Will look into it!

  6. Natalie Aguirre says:

    This sounds like a fun story for summer. My husband always wanted to get an RV and travel some day. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. This sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the review, Greg.

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