Ashley Salvatore Letter Essay #5: The Detour

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Recently, I finished The Detour, a 215-page novel. This mysterious, suspense-filled novel is by S.A. Bodeen; a best-selling author of YA literature, who is greatly recognized for her science fiction genre books such as The Compound, The Gardner, and The Raft. Bodeen was raised on a dairy farm in wisconsin with her family, but decided to experience something new when she became a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania (a volunteer organization). The exposure to a place like Tanzania influenced the writing upon her first award-winning picture book, Elizabeti’s Doll. In my opinion, what makes this book very compelling is the personality of the main character, Livvy Flynn. In the book she is portrayed as a rich, famous author. Being quite full of herself as only a 17 year old bestselling author, you would not believe the things she did to save herself throughout some horrible, unimaginable situations. This novel greatly differs from others also because of the creepy, eerie, and quite disturbing occurrences that make you on the edge of your seat. I chose this book based upon her visit last year at our school. I was looking to try a new genre, such as science fiction, so I decided upon the purchase of The Detour. The Detour was a very good choice as it introduced me to a few small techniques to impact your piece in writing. One technique that I noticed, which is used a lot throughout her books, is to use lots of inner questioning from the character to add suspense for the reader.

In the book, The Detour, Livvy Flynn is a 17-year-old best selling author whose life really couldn’t get any better. Instead of having to go to a typical high school, like most teens her age, she is lucky enough to get paid for doing something she most enjoys, writing. With her books being sold all over the world, she couldn’t ask for more. And, with that she soon learns to appreciate the jealousy of the other writers, wanting people to look up to them. When it was just a normal day for Livvy, she was on her way to an A-list writer’s retreat, where she works on upcoming books, but when a very unexpected distraction on the road lands her in a car accident, Livvy wakes up only to be in the hands of two strangers in a basement in the middle of nowhere. With an injury and nowhere near to call home, she is held captive against her will by these odd people and must figure out unique ways she can escape being trapped when her resources are very limited. Still trying to figure out who her captors are, she also find out the grudge they have had against her (for something that becomes known in the end of the book). she knows that there is no way they will let her go. Until she figures it out.

I liked the way the author provided a clear sense of closure at the end of the novel. This made a the ending a lot more enjoyable and satisfying to read. One of the main questions was why was Peg holding Livvy captive? This was engraved into the reader’s mind since the beginning of the story. It was answered when Livvy figured out what had happened between them in a mishap of a situation. Also, as explained in the intro, I liked how the author made the character different from most other novels, in the fact that the main character unpredictable and, in some ways, actually unlikeable.

I was surprised when Livvy got into the accident because she saw flute girl. This made me have lots of questions as the reader such as, why was the girl playing a flute on the side of a road? Did she know Livvy would be driving down that road? If so, did she plan on taking Livvy? This scene in the book was most likely intended to be a very odd, puzzling, strange thing that could happen, making the reader on the edge of her seat. This was one of the most suspenseful scenes, in the book, in my opinion. It was a good scene too because of how mysterious it becomes.

I think the theme of this book is learning a lesson. My reasoning behind this is because throughout the entire book, I noticed snippets of dialogue and thought that display Livvy’s character change. One of the first signs of character change starts on pg. 27. The way she learned a lesson was to be more grateful. This was especially important for someone like her to learn, were the things like a bed, a house to stay warm in, a soft pillow to sleep on, may sometimes be forgotten because of how rich she is. This was actually one of the parts were Livvy showed lots of change within herself.

To conclude this Letter Essay, here is a passage that I think showed significance in the book. The setting was in the basement of Livvy’s captor, Peg. It had been right after she got taken in, that she was left alone in the room.

“You’ll always dwell on the bad. Find something good.

I turned my head so my cheek was on the pillow. I sniffed.

That was one thing to be grateful for. My captors could have been less hygenic, and left me lying on a dirt floor somewhere, with a bucket for a toilet and vermin crawling all over me as

I slept. Instead, I was lying on a nice bed with covers and a decent pillow that smelled like a sunny day in a meadow.

Lucky me.(pgs. 27-28)”

I chose this passage of the book, because I think it is one of the parts that very well demonstrates character development, even at an early stage in the book. The big change that I noticed was in Livvy’s personality, as she went from being self-centered, full of herself, and materialistic, to being a very grateful person for what she had, even though she was in a very bad situation. I would rate this book an 8 out of 10 for the great plot line, action, and mystery weaved in, along with the sometimes-disturbing details that seemed to peek out through certain pages of the book.



Ashley Salvatore



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11 thoughts on “Ashley Salvatore Letter Essay #5: The Detour

  1. Ashley,

    Hia! Well, that was one long Letter-Essay but at the same time you put so much effort into the “essay”! :3 I really enjoy how much detail you put into your work, with the quoted passage that you cited, (very proud of that). Your Letter-Essay does have a really funny mishap! Here it is “making the reader on the edge of her seat.” not all readers are girls! hee-hee! Just watch out for that next time! Can’t wait to read another!!

    ~Elisabeth Berg

  2. Dear Ashley,

    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay. You dove deep into the author’s writing and writing techniques. It was interesting how you connected to the writing and took away new learning from it. You did an awesome job.


  3. Dear Ashley,
    You did such a good job with writing your essay. You made writing look so easy! 😉
    I loved everything in your letter essay, but one things for sure…you put in so much detail! I have never read this book before. And now that I have read a really good reflection an it… I just might pick it up some day soon. The detail really helped you explain the story to someone who doesn’t really know what the story is about! You did a really good job writing your story! :);)

  4. Hi Ashley,
    I loved reading your in-dept Letter Essay. It had so much detail and you really explained the story well. It was awesome of you to notice the author’s craft in the story. I have never read the book, but I’ve heard of it before. It sounds like a good book full of technique. Your Letter Essay was awesome! Keep on writing!
    Mia Larkin

  5. To ashley

    I loved reading your letter essay. I loved the detail and time that you must have put into it. I liked how you didn’t give away your ending but you still explained the whole story. You made me want to read that book now.

    From cooper,

  6. Dear Ashley,
    I really liked that you added your own thought process in your letter essay. An example of this is when you were describing the questions you were asking yourself while reading when Livvy got in an accident. You wrote: “why was the girl playing a flute on the side of a road? Did she know Livvy would be driving down that road? If so, did she plan on taking Livvy?” It really helped me see what you were thinking. One thing you can improve on is adding quotes from the text to further support your thinking and letting us get a feel for what the book is like. This would really help you letter essays in the future because the reader can read it more fluidly. Thanks for sharing your letter essay!

    Jalen Johnson

  7. Dear Ashley,

    I really liked your letter essay, and how you explained you story without giving the ending too much. I think you are a great writer but I think you should add a quote in your essay. I loved how you think that the theme of the book is learning a lesson, it makes it real. Good job!


  8. Dear Ashley,
    Great Job!!! Your letter essay was AMAZING! It was so well written, and your summary really intrigued me. You made me want to wonder what happened. I liked how you showed your thought in your writing. For example, you really showed this when you were talking about flute girl. Now I really want to read the book! You’ve also developed a real great style of writing, and have a great sense of author’s craft. Again, great job!!

  9. Ashley,
    I really enjoyed to read the amount of detail in you had in your piece. Also I really enjoyed reading this in general and i’m thinking about reading this.

  10. Dear Ashley,

    I loved how you included your thoughts based on the novel, and also used your descriptive vocabulary to form an image and set the scene for the readers thus above. Just the basic words, said enough. The way you wrote this letter essay spoke a lot about the book. Like many above had said previously, I think it is great how you expressed the happenings of the book without giving away the endings. I read this book a little while ago, and by reading your Letter Essay #5, it not only refreshed my memory but also brought in some new things to notice.

    Great job!

    Your amiga,
    Isabel Prentice

  11. Dear Ashley,

    Even though never reading one of S.A Bodeen’s books she has always seemed like a great writer to me and I think that you really reflected that in your writing. And as she seems to, really pack all the information fluently and amazingly into one book, as you did with this essay.


    Jason Kowalski

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