In this slim children’s chapter book, written by 11-year-old Nkemakolam Odu, the “horrible trip” of the title is undertaken by Samantha, who, like her creator, is also 11 years old. Samantha is determined to find her father, who disappeared several years ago, supposedly kidnapped while on a business trip to New York.
Her first attempt is interrupted by the surprise arrival of a brand-new stepfamily. At first the older girl in the stepfamily, Paige, torments Samantha, but once Samantha confronts her, the bullying girl apologizes and they work together to get from London to New York.
Once in New York, Paige is kidnapped, and Samantha has to find and rescue her. She is aided by a man she meets in a cave in a forest (the geography of the story bears little resemblance to New York’s actual landscape). They soon discover that Samantha’s father isn’t the man they thought he was, but ultimately a happy ending ensues back in London.
Like many irrepressible 11-year-olds, the story jumps around and displays loose logic. It is also hampered by a number of grammatical and spelling errors. However, the author is imaginative and understands the need for danger, villains, cliff-hangers, and surprise twists.
London-based Odu reports to readers in a note at the end of the book that she was inspired to write it because of her love of books. While this story reflects the effort of someone just beginning to hone her craft, Odu’s passion — and especially the discipline required to sit down and complete a manuscript — bodes well for all of her future endeavors, whether she pursues a career as a writer or not.
Also available as an ebook.