Title: Road Trip of Delusion
Author: Jean Ann Williams
Genre: YA; Adventure; Multi-generational
Fifteen-year-old Kari Rose discovers how much trouble she and her two sisters can get into when they stay at their ancient granny’s for spring break. Granny gets a wild-haired notion at three in the morning, and she’s leaving with or without them. Kari makes the decision to take her sisters and ride with Granny in her old Cadillac on a five-hundred-mile-long trip north to visit family. Miles down the road, this harmless act finds Granny no longer able to drive, and Kari must take the wheel. Soon after, the four travelers are caught in a freeway-closing-down snowstorm which brings everyone and everything to a standstill.
A second blizzard with catastrophic impact is about to descend upon them, and Kari must determine the best way to find shelter and beat the storm. Will Kari trust her gut instincts and rely upon a complete stranger to lead them to safety?
If I Speak
My heart sank to my navel. I left behind my plans for a week of recipe testing as I hugged the cookbook on my lap.
Great-granny’s foot went heavy on the gas pedal of her Cadillac Fleetwood. The vehicle backfired with a zoom onto Highway 101. Her ancient hawk-like eyes never seemed to wander from the approaching headlight beams.
I shook my head, trying to dislodge a huge regret—I wasn’t able to talk her out of taking this trip.
In the backseat, my sister, Leah Bedeah, two years younger than me at thirteen, jumped on the roadway of reasoning. “Granny, don’t you think we should tell someone?”
Great-granny’s head barely crested the top of the seat. “Your Grand is gone, so it’s just me now.” She lifted her chin.
Little sister Mia Babe sat next to Leah. “Kari?”
Twisting in my seat, I faced them. “What?”
“Mom says Grand’s in paradise, but where’s that?”
Ah, Mia, an old soul at the age of seven. “Well, from what Mom taught me, it’s a spiritual place where people go when they die”.
“Oh.” Mia rubbed her left eye, a sure sign she was sleepy.
A scary notion surfaced, and I slapped my forehead. “Do you even know your way to Oregon?”
“Of course.” Great-granny flicked her blinker and passed a small car. “Grand and I visited Oregon when your mama was a slip of a teenager.”
“But—” Leah counted. “That was around twenty-five years ago. Right, Kari?”
“Right.” I rolled my eyes and refocused on the headlight-brightened pavement. “I don’t think they moved the state since then, Leah.” But, does Granny remember how to get there?
“Very funny, Kari.” Leah huffed as she threw herself back against the plush seat. “You don’t know everything.”
I waved her off. “Just hush, and let me think.”
“Would you stop?” I hissed as Great-granny launched into one of her tales.
How would I convince my grief-stricken great-granny to turn this once-proud Cadillac around before we traveled farther from home?
A hint of dawn brushed the base of the eastern sky. The Coastal Oaks struggled to peek through the dark. Their branches gnarled like an old woman’s fingers.
My lashes fluttered. Stay awake. Didn’t Granny need two sets of eyes to watch the road? I pictured the drivers’ ed manual on my dresser and remembered something about this. Or could it be my distrust for an eighty-year-old driving a vehicle which swayed side to side.
Although it was still too dark to see anything but shapes in the backseat, from the outline of Leah’s crossed arms she was ticked-off angry.
“Mama’s gonna be mad, Kari.” Mia’s voice quivered. “I’m on this trip only ’cause you’re biggest, and Granny’s the oldest.”
Leah grumbled. “Just chill, ya little baby.”
Granny looked in the rearview mirror. “What’s that you say?” The Cadillac swerved.
Gripping the steering wheel, I steadied it. “You drive, and I’ll handle the rest.”
“A bit bossy, aren’t we?” Granny crossed the dotted lines on the road.
Here we go, again. Letting go of the wheel, I then clenched my cookbook as well as my teeth.
“No, she’s not bossy.” Leah unbuckled and leaned near Granny. “You jerked this bat mobile.” I shook my head at Leah, but she didn’t take the hint and pointed her index finger at Granny’s head. “She’s driving reckless.”
Beads of sweat dampened my bangs, and I heaved a huge sigh of frustration.
Granny eased her foot off the accelerator. “I didn’t mean to scare you, Leah.”
In reply, she folded her hands together on Granny’s head rest. “Please, dear Lord, keep us safe.”
My sister never knew when to quit.
Granny harrumphed. “Don’t be disrespectful, Leah Bedeah.”
“I’m. Not. I’m praying.” She squinted. “And thank You, Lord, ahead of time for—”
“You girls don’t have to take this trip with me.”
Mia shuffled in her seat. “Aren’t you supposed to be babysitting us?”
“Who’s babysitting who is the better question?” Leah snorted.
Was Granny joking? I couldn’t imagine her driving five hundred miles to Oregon by her lonesome. In a car older than my mother, even. “You know, Granny … wouldn’t it be fun instead to stop at Monterey Bay Aquarium and see the dolphins?”
“Suppose not.” Surely she spit the t through a space in the steering wheel.
Mia banged her shoes against her seat. “C’mon, Granny, let’s go.”
I rubbed my palm over the cookbook cover, itching to stare with longing at the fudge brownie recipe. “There’s no way we can get to Oregon and home again before our parents get back on Sunday.”
“And why not?”
There she goes, spitting a whole word.
“Four days is time enough to visit my son.”
Leah’s chin hugged the top of the front seat between Granny and me. “Granny, you shouldn’t take advantage of Mom and Dad on their vacation with no cell phone.”
“How come we didn’t get to go?” Mia stroked my neck. “I wanna sleep in a tree house and burn marshmallows in a fire.”
I waved a hand to shoo off her question. “Kids don’t go on second honeymoons.”
“Why?” Mia’s voice became super whiney.
“It’s a celebration of the day they married seventeen years ago.” Leah yawned. “That’s why.”
Mia sighed. “I miss Mama.”
“Personally, I agree with Kari.” Leah looked down her nose at Granny. “No way will we get this Caddy home in time.”
“It’s not a Caddy.” Granny stretched her neck, as the car weaved again. “This gem is a Cadillac.”
“More like a prehistoric beast.” Leah muttered.
Granny pinned her eyes on the road. “How do you know we won’t get home before your parents?”
Silence filled the car, and I squirmed in the leather seat.
“I’ll look at the map later on.” Granny’s voice oozed as smooth as hot fudge sauce. “And, girls, I’ve got a thousand dollars in my purse. You’ll be my bodyguards.”
A gas bubble shot to my throat. I choked on the burp.