Insouciance. Audacity. Destiny. Betrayal. These are some of the intangible things that two friends both encounter and embrace on a cross-country, New Jersey to the Grand Canyon, Thelma & Louise-type road trip.
Hannah and Zoe are high school seniors at a public school which–facing budget cuts–operates on a half-day schedule. If a student scores above a certain level on the standardized test, they don’t have to stay past lunch because the school has “no funding for anything that isn’t strictly remedial.” On afternoons that the girls are not in school, they sneak into the attic of a nearby private school so they can learn by observation through the air vents–and spy on boys with money.
During her free time, Zoe also creates monthly installations in The Museum of Intangible Things–a space set aside in her basement to help her young brother with Asbergers understand irrational concepts and emotions, such as Sloth-slash-Laziness and Sadness-slash-Despair. The focus of her “intangible” lessons shifts from Noah to Hannah when Zoe has a bad encounter with her rich-boy crush and her application to fashion school is denied, spiraling her into the manic state of her bi-polar disorder. Zoe is threatened with institutionalization and decides to take flight. Hannah participates in the road trip primarily to take care of Zoe, but also because she’s frustrated with her own situation when she discovers that her college fund bank account has been drained by her alcoholic father.
Wendy Wunder has written a smart, smart book. It explores loyalty and friendship through illness, courage to better a situation despite the fact one is defined by that situation, and all of the sex, alcohol, and other trappings that define high school today.