At eleven years going on twelve, Sebastian is put on a Greyhound bus in Stockton California, the start of a three day two thousand mile journey to his grandparents in Altoona, Pennsylvania, by his self-interested mother; she no longer has time for him now that she is about to marry - again. Sebastian is, not surprisingly, somewhat apprehensive as he embarks on his solo expedition, bewildered not just by what the next three days might have in store for him, but also as to why he is yet again being deserted by his mother. But all is not bleak, at least he feels secure in knowing that his grandparents will welcome him; and in addition to charming all the ladies en-route with his cute good looks and polite manners, Sebastian soon teams up with a the most unlikely travelling companion, the young and black Marcus, just released from an eight year jail term.
This unusual alliance will prove to be Sebastian's salvation in more ways than one on this marathon journey that crams in more action and disasters than any youngster should have to endure in his entire childhood, let alone in just three days. Marcus proves to be a wise and loyal friend, helping Sebastian with more than just the journey, but helping him understand himself and his plight, and equipping him as best he can for the future. Sebastian learns a great deal about human nature both in its darker and in its more positive forms.
Sebastian narrates the events of his epic journey, and if there is a criticism of the book it is that this is not the narration of an eleven year old boy, but that aside the story is told with a keen sense of observation and often with a little humour. It reveals humanity in all its forms, and provides a fascinating picture of what was once the Americans' preferred means of distance travelling. Sebastian comes across as a likeable and very natural boy. I found this a most enjoyable and compelling read