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Book Review

This contemporary Christian, coming-of-age book by Amy Clipston is published by Zondervan.

Roadside Assistance is written for ages 13 to 16. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Emily Curtis' mother died from cancer eight months earlier, and her father, Brad, is deep in debt from his wife's treatments and hospitalizations. Unable to pay the bills, he loses his automotive repair business and their house. They are forced to relocate to a new town to live with his wealthy sister, Darlene Richards, and her family.

Emily, 17, and her dad are still grieving. Ever since her mother's death, Emily struggles in her relationship with God. She is full of doubt because she cannot feel His presence and is not able to pray. She feels as though her aunt treats her like a charity case. Emily expresses her thoughts and feelings in a journal. Her entries are addressed to her mother.

Unlike her perfect, cheerleader cousin, Whitney, who is preoccupied with grades and glamour, Emily likes repairing cars and does it well. She wears jeans and T-shirts, and she doesn't care about her appearance. She wants people to like her for who she is. Emily is attracted to the teen boy next door, Zander Stewart, who also likes to work on cars.

Zander tells her father about a vacancy at a local car repair shop, and Brad gets a job there as an assistant manager. One day a sander he is using flies apart, and the spinning disk slices into his arm, cutting it to the bone. Though Emily fears she may also lose her father, he undergoes surgery, and the surgeon, Zander's father, gives him a good prognosis.

As Emily and Zander spend time together working on his car, attending the church youth group and going to the same school, their relationship deepens into friendship and eventually love. Emily realizes that God has been with her all along. She comes to recognize that many of the things she resented were blessings from Him.

Christian Beliefs

Emily attends worship services with her family. After an eight-month absence, she returns to church, but she goes to a new church in her new town. Emily's mother was a strong Christian and leaves her Bible and a letter telling Emily that God will always be with her, loving and guiding her. Emily recalls her mother's favorite Bible verses from Hebrews 11:1 and Isaiah 41:10. Zander is a Christian and frequently encourages Emily to keep her heart open to God.

Other Belief Systems

The materialism of the wealthy is around Emily when she lives in her aunt's home.

Authority Roles

Emily's mother, even though she was dying from cancer, assured Emily that everything happens for a reason and that it is part of God's plan. Brad, Emily's father, loses his business, but he is responsible and immediately begins looking for a new job. When Emily wants to get a part-time job to help pay bills so they can eventually get a place of their own, Brad responds by telling her that her job is school. Working and paying bills are his responsibility. After his accident, he tells her he will consider letting her get a part-time job at the shop he manages. He is unable to share his grief with his daughter and seeks the counsel of his pastor to help process his thoughts and feelings.

Darlene, Emily's aunt, often compares Emily to her high-achieving daughter, Whitney. Darlene dotes on Whitney while being critical of Emily's appearance. However, in the end, Whitney privately points out some of her mother's shortcomings, and Darlene apologizes to Emily for her insensitivity. Zander's father is a medical doctor and expects Zander to be a doctor, because that's what Stewart men do. Emily's paternal grandmother, Jean, clearly plays favorites among her grandchildren, and Whitney is her favorite.




Whitney and her friends wear string bikinis. At a pool party, a guy named Chad kisses Whitney. Emily and Zander are attracted to each other, and he gives her a tender kiss when they are alone in his garage. Emily journals to her deceased mother about how Zander is a really great kisser.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

For additional parenting resources, download an issue of Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine published by Focus on the Family, at ThrivingFamily.com/magazine.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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