The Other Way Around

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Andrew has seen a flash of his future. (Dad: unfinished PhD. Mom: unfulfilling career. Their marriage: unsuccessful.) Based on what he’s seen, he’s uninspired to put a foot on the well-worn path to the adulthood everyone expects of him. There must be another way around.

After a particularly disastrous Thanksgiving (his cousin wets Andrew’s bed; his parents were too chicken to tell him his grandmother died), Andrew accidentally (on purpose) runs away and joins the circus. Kind of.

A guy can meet the most interesting people at the Greyhound station at dinnertime on Thanksgiving day. The Freegans are exactly the kinds of friends (living out of an ancient VW camper van, dumpster diving, dressing like clowns and busking for change) who would have Andrew’s mom reaching for a third glass of Chardonnay. To Andrew, five teenagers who seem like they’ve found another way to grow up are a dream come true. But as the VW winds its way across the USA, the future is anything but certain.

The path of least resistance is a long, strange trip.

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Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Young Adult
Copyright 2014
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 288
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.5
Text Type Fiction
BISACS YAF058210, YAF018030, YAF058120
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.125 x 7.5
Lexile 840
ATOS Reading Level 5.5
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 162676
Accelerated Reader® Points 12.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Sashi Kaufman

Sashi Kaufman is a middle-school teacher and an author. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her family. Visit her online at


  • Maine Literary Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2015
  • Cream of the Crop for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Winner, 2014
  • Missouri State Teacher's Association Reading Circle Selection, Winner, 2014


Library Media Connection

“Nonconformist teens will be able to identify with these characters and will find that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.” —Library Media Connection


“Often frank, other times startling, always filled with the familiar wanderlust most every teen experiences, this book has wheels.” —starred, Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Debut author Kaufman does a great job of depicting young people who have opted out of conventional middle-class values.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Road-trip rebellion with romance….The dynamics of the group, combined with quirky characters met along the way, provide a certain fascination.” —Kirkus Reviews

Adrienne Vrettos

“Freegans, dumpster diving, and a van named Shirley. I seriously would follow this motley crew of performers anywhere. Andrew’s journey across the country, into love, into friendship, into a community unlike any he’s ever seen, was riveting . I am so glad Andrew got in the van, and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to ride shotgun.

His is a thrilling reminder that sometimes we have to leave home to find ourselves.”

—Adrienne Maria Vrettos, author of Burnout