I recently read a review which mentioned that The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart was a real tearjerker. While I was a bit teary-eyed by the end of the book, I wouldn’t say it is a sad story. Rather, I found it to be a tale of resiliency and both confronting and overcoming very difficult life challenges.
Coyote Sunrise is a twelve-year-old girl who is on the road with her dad, Rodeo. They’ve been driving around the country in a school bus turned motor home for the past five years. Her mom and two sisters died in a car accident back then, and the traveling has been an escape from facing this tragedy.
Coyote’s story starts at a gas station when she chooses a free kitten against her dad’s “no pets” rule. We learn more about her relationship with her dad as she figures out how to persuade him to let her keep the kitten named Ivan.
The real story begins during a phone call to her grandmother, in which Coyote finds out that the park near her old home is being dug up. It becomes her mission to get back to Washington state from Florida in order to retrieve the memory box that her mom and sisters had buried there before their deaths. She can’t tell her dad her true motive because that would be a “no-go.” From here, Coyote and her dad pick up other people needing a ride, all with their own stories to share. There’s Lester the musician, Salvador and his mother who are escaping an abusive dad/husband, Val the misunderstood runaway, and finally Gladys, a goat needing a ride to her proper owners.
Through the miles they share, bonds are formed and the true destination of their journey is revealed. Coyote (previously Ella) takes some major risks in order to recapture her family’s memories once and for all. This is a true journey story, with great characters and a mission that you will care about.