by J.A. Wright
Eat and Get Gas is an engaging story told from a teenager’s point of view.
J.A. Wright creates a compelling voice for Evan, whose life in the USA is framed by the challenges of her family. Evan’s father is a Vietnam vet, her mother has multiple sclerosis, her younger brother has learning difficulties and her older brother (Adam) just received his Vietnam war draft papers.
Evan’s mother goes with Adam across the border into Canada so Adam can avoid becoming like his father – messed up. “When I asked [Mum] if she thought the war had changed Dad … she said only his good parts,” Evan tells us. Evan’s dad has acquired a second family to return to in Vietnam so he doesn’t want to look after Evan. He organises for Evan to stay with her grandmother at ‘Eat and Get Gas’ – a café combined with a gas station in Hoquiam, Washington. There Evan meets a further set of unusual characters, including her forthright Aunt Vivian, Uncle Frankie who has PTSD, Frankie’s sister Louanne badly scarred by a car crash, and Paco, a draft dodger Frankie has taken in.
Evan’s coming of age is described in relation to her relations in a very believable way. J.A. Wright captures the impact of the Vietnam war on American society well and a good amount of humour lightens what could be a dark narrative. Occasionally, the number of characters and need to keep track of their stories became challenging. However, J.A. Wright does a good job of giving them all unique voices. In addition, all the players have their redeeming features, making them likeable, sometimes in odd ways.
I highly recommend ‘Eat and Get Gas’, which embeds plenty of deeper meaning in its easily digested narrative.
Author: J.A. Wright
Publisher: Toad Ltd. (NZ only) She Writes Press (USA/Canada)
RRP: $29.95 NZD
Available: Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Nationwide Books distributes the paperback version in NZ. Most online book retailers sell the paperback, ebook and audio versions, including Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Indiebound, Betterworld Books, Powells etc.