Trip Around the Sun by Joseph D. Colby
In Joseph D. Colby’s Trip Around the Sun, thirteen-year-old Trip travels from California to Missouri with his family in 1926. Along with his hard-working farmer parents, his spunky sister Ellen, and his impressionable brother David, Trip journeys across the southern United States. The trip is the brainchild of Trip’s father, who is looking to reunite with his parents back east after a 30-year separation. At each stage of the crossing, the reader learns more about Trip, his family, and life as a migrant in early twentieth century America; from the very first chapter, the reader sinks into this past world, a world in which leaving your family and not coming back for 30 years is nothing strange. As the landscape changes and the family makes its way east, Trip endears himself to the reader, bringing a personal touch and a spark of humanity to the American theme of migration for the sake of a better life.
Colby’s writing instantly draws the reader into Trip’s understanding of his surroundings, his relationship with his family members, and the journey he makes from one version of home to another. The author uses Trip’s voice so effectively that the reader has no trouble diving back into the specific challenges that come with being thirteen years old. Trip’s personal migration accompanies the family’s physical movement from west to east, while his father is making a return to what was once familiar. The specifics of the rugged, sparse historical setting make this more than just another coming-of-age story.