“Some teens are just unmanageable – getting crazy ideas and making questionable, if not bad, decisions because they think they’re invincible and can do anything – right? Linda Collison’s young adult novel about three such teens gives us a brilliant look at what goes on in the world inside their heads as they deal with the world around them. Young readers will instantly relate to these characters and adult readers will be, or should be, enlightened. But these three aren’t kids just off to do mischief, they’re children on the cusp of adulthood struggling to put together a winning hand from the cards dealt to them by adults.
Ramie Redfeather, 15, leaves a note at home for his single mom while she’s at work and takes off hitchhiking from Cheyenne to Denver in search of the father he’s never met, and maybe to dodge a court appearance. In Baltimore, Chas Sweeny, 17, “borrows” his grandmother’s car for a chance to see the world, but really to escape dealing with a tragic situation at home. Faith Appleby, who possesses a mild learning disability, and whose parents think she’s with a friend counseling at a Bible camp, changes her name to Mae B. LaRoux and takes a wrong bus out of Baton Rouge on her way to sing in a blues music competition in Austin.
Collison is so adept at building characters by showing the reader who they are that by the time the three teens serendipitously meet up the reader already knows the family they’ve left behind and cares about where they end up. (Writers who struggle with the “show, don’t tell” concept could use this book as a master class.) The affable and talkative Chas offers to drive Ramie and Mae B. where they need to go, via the road trip of his dreams. He periodically calls his grandmother to say he’s out looking at colleges in order to keep her from reporting the car stolen and having him picked up. So, with clear sailing ahead and no firm plan other than to find Redfeather and get Mae B. to Austin in time for the competition, the adventure unfolds through several states. And, of course, nothing goes as expected.
Looking for Redfeather is an engaging, well told, often lyrically-written story that keeps moving and never falters. Collison reveals the depth of her characters by deftly weaving minor successes and major disappointments into this road trip of self discovery and acceptance. And, in the end, the pain that set each of the trio on the road sends the two boys back toward home and leaves Mae B. at the Austin Music Festival. And along the way, maybe they find Redfeather.
Verdict: An engaging, well told, often lyrical narrative that never falters.“
— Literary Fiction Book Review; July, 2015.