Thou Shalt Not Road Trip | Antony John | Book Review

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip | Antony John | Book ReviewThou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John
Published by Penguin on April 12, 2012
Genres: Coming of Age, Humorous, New Experience, Social Themes, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon

From the award-winning author of Five Flavors of Dumb comes a novel featuring one crazy road trip full of rejection, redemption, and romance. Perfect for fans of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, or Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost.  Sixteen-year-old Luke’s self-help book Hallelujah has become a national bestseller and his publisher is sending him on a cross-country book tour along the historic Route 66. Unfortunately for Luke, his irresponsible older brother Matt is coming along as chauffeur. When Matt offers to drive Luke’s ex-crush, Fran, across the country too, things really get crazy. In this journey of self-discovery, Luke has to loosen up and discover what it truly means to have faith to win the girl he loves.
"A highly readable balance of humor, heart, self-discovery, and shenanigans."—BCCB "Christian values are conveyed with humor, devoid of potentially preachy pitfalls."—School Library Journal "Features multifaceted teens whose faith is integrated with their thinking but doesn't define them completely . . . [A]n upbeat read with a unique premise, great settings, and just a little more."—Booklist

It sometimes makes me sad when contemporary books that I really, truly like and enjoy do not quite catch on like I hope that they would. Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John is a book that I basically blew through, but one that ultimately had some meaning to me, as I’ve met people like Luke and people like the side characters and it just really made me think about faith and being a teenager. Guys, I think that I am kind of a sucker for YA books about religion so long as they are not religious YA books. Try and puzzle that one out. Antony John’s Thou Shalt Not Road Trip blends road trips and faith into one must-keep-reading-must-not-stop sort of books.

Sixteen year old Luke has just written a religious book called Hallelujah which basically is written in Biblical style, but with lessons for kids. Hallelujah becomes a national best seller and so, Luke is sent on a cross country book tour. He starts in LA, where his brother Matt will take over chauffeuring Luke across the country, or at least until St. Louis. Only, there is one hitch — Matt’s girlfriend Alex and her sister, Luke’s ex, Fran are hitching a ride.

This makes Luke super uncomfortable, especially because Mat is charging ostentatious things like a Hummer and off the beaten path hotel rooms to Luke’s publicist’s card. Along the way though, Luke learns some pretty important things about himself and his faith. We also see a lot of what went into Hallelujah and why Luke wrote what he did – like we see his headspace at the time. Anyways, trust that I am terrible at recounting the plot of Thou Shalt Road Trip by Antony John and that it is way better than how I make it sound.

So, we start the book and you guys LUKE IS SO NAIVE. Like, as an adult, I sit there reading and I am like, Luke you are being terrible. Or Luke, you are being a prat (sometimes in my head I use terms I would never use in real life). Or I am like, Luke that girl is fake. You will see when you read. Anyways, Luke just does not have a lot of life experience, he’s super sheltered and he is also kind of judgmental.

Like, Fran for example used to be all clean cut and preppy, but then she cut her hair and dyed it, got some piercings and tattoos and so Luke decides to just write her off. Like, come on. That is such a dick move. And I bet you are reading all this and thinking to yourself that I hated Luke as a character. You would be wrong. I think that he encapsulates being a sheltered teenager quite well. He’s a spectacular idiot, but ultimately he redeems himself and honestly I couldn’t help but feel for him. I ended up being won over by Luke.

Usually I come to books to just swoon my face off, swooning might as well be my second job. With Thou Shalt Not Road Trip, there is a romance, yes. There’s Luke’s pining for what Fran used to be and how when he was dorky he really, really liked Fran. Especially because they were on debate team together and had this like crazy intense banter chemistry. Then it all goes to hell. And you read how it all went to hell and hope that it can be put back together again. You see Luke royally screw up. And well, you guys, I can’t help but nod and smile and think to myself that the romance played out in the best way possible for the storyline it is in. You will see if/when you read this book.

I think that Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John is an interesting look at authentic faith, blind faith, and sanctimoniousness , especially among teenagers. Like, Luke gets really sanctimonious and kind of annoying. But then, he starts to examine his beliefs and I don’t know, it’s just so well written and I think that many kids go through that — that whole what do I truly believe. I like that he does that.

I also like that the book showcases blind faith when you see people reading Luke’s book Hallelujah and taking it literally as opposed to figuratively, like it was actually supposed to be taken. You also see a lot of people judging Fran because of her punk makeover looks. Y’all, I totally know people like that and those people are basically the worst and I am getting all run-on here but Antony John does a superb job showing how they are the worst.

Straight up, I’d recommend Thou Shalt Not Road Trip to those in need of a terrific contemporary book with strong character development, a respectful but exploratory look at teenage spirituality and a rather quirky yet disastrous road trip.

Disclosure: Shanyn gifted me a copy of this book.


Chick Loves Lit – “I had a lot of fun reading”
Forever Young Adult – “I felt like it really was taking me on a grand adventure”
Annette’s Book Spot – “very easy, quick read”

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Thanks for the mention. I should add that John also wrote “Five Flavors of Dumb” which I liked even better, so check it out if you haven’t.

  2. I certainly haven’t heard a lot about this book, but I think your review has convinced me that I should read it! I do like the way it seems to portray a teenager’s (or even an adult’s) experience with faith, and the different ways they can be about it. Glad to hear you liked this, and can’t wait to check it out for myself!