An Occasionally Happy Family (Paperback)
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There are zero reasons for Theo Ripley to look forward to his family vacation. Not only are he, sister Laura, and nature-obsessed Dad going to Big Bend, the least popular National Park, but once there, the family will be camping. And Theo is an indoor animal. It doesn’t help that this will be the first vacation they’re taking since Mom passed away.
Once there, the family contends with 110 degree days, wild bears, and an annoying amateur ornithologist and his awful teenage vlogger son. Then, Theo’s dad hits him with a whopper of a surprise: the whole trip is just a trick to introduce his secret new girlfriend.
Theo tries to squash down the pain in his chest. But when it becomes clear that this is an auditioning-to-be-his-stepmom girlfriend, Theo must find a way to face his grief and talk to his dad before his family is forever changed.
Clifford Burke grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He worked as a house painter, a parking lot attendant, and a sign-twirling dancing banana before graduating from the College of William and Mary. He currently teaches English in the Bay Area.
"Deftly capturing the childhood torture of family road trips, Burke nails the hilarious dialogue between Theo; his 16-year-old sister, Laura; and their science teacher dad....a riotous cast of eye-opening characters.... Each short chapter provides a glimpse of the humor and pain caused by the lack of communication and unaddressed grief that burdens each family member.....With memorable characters and voices, realistic emotions, and an extra helping of humor, this title rocks.... A masterful look at loss and mourning wrapped up in a hilariously painful family vacation." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"This is a good, realistic, and a funny book about a family in transition....Sure to be a popular title, especially with fans of humor, road trip adventures, and James Patterson’s books." — School Library Journal
"Coursing underneath this comically disastrous road trip romp is a painfully real and poignant reflection on how families find the strength to cope with loss. Funny and fast-paced (and occasionally happy), Theo's journey is one many young readers will relate to and enjoy." — John David Anderson, author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day and Posted