William ‘Scoob’ Lamar is in trouble at school. His friend Shenice’s younger brother is disabled and Bryce, the school bully targets him relentlessly. When Scoob comes to his defence and fights Bryce he is blamed for the fracas and suspended. His father imposed a lockdown so when his beloved elderly and eccentric Grandmother turned up in a brand-new Winnebago and announced that they were going on a road trip Scoob jumped at the chance. This was not to be a trip purely for pleasure, however, but a chance for his Grandmother to revisit her past and attempt to educate Scoob in the history of racism. The issue is further highlighted by the fact that Scoob is black and his grandmother white. Reminders of this punctuate the narrative – the hostile looks directed at Scoob wherever they stop to eat or shop – and the Travellers’ Green Book which Grandma and her black husband used to tell them where it would be safe to stay when they were travelling . The reader is educated, too, seeing the landscape – political and emotional – through his grandmother’s memories.
Mysteries are threaded through the story – the reason for his late Grandfather’s prison sentence, his Grandmother’s refusal to respond to his father’s phone calls, the collection of expensive jewellery which Scoob finds in the Winnebago. There is repetition, too, in situation and response and some difficulties with American colloquialisms and language but the narrative moves along quickly and the action does not let up – a bonus for younger readers. The book ends on a note of high emotion, but also one of positivity – Scoob and his father make a new start in their relationship. The mysteries of the story are solved, too and Scoob’s mother, who left when he was a baby, wants to make contact again. This makes the ending feel rather crowded and almost breathlessly rushed – almost like a race to the finish to tie all ends together.