Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 18
- Grade: 7 to 12
Left to house sit one summer while their parents are in Europe, three sisters set out on a cross-Canada road trip instead. Through near disasters, new acquaintances, and the revelation of close-kept secrets, the sisters' ties are by turns tested and strengthened.
It's Hanna's wild idea, of course: take their mom's car, pack up the tent, and drive across the country. Just three sisters, one guitar, and the Trans Canada Highway. They can be back in Nova Scotia before their parents are home from Europe. She doesn't say she wants to forget about what happened in Italy, and at university. Claire doesn't say she keeps having nightmares about her friend's recent suicide. Megan doesn't say much, unless it's a complaint. But maybe they all feel, somehow, that this is their one chance to do something together, something big, before time begins to scatter them.
With empathy and insight, Sylvia Gunnery writes an engaging summer read about three sisters navigating the difficult roads of adolescence, trauma, secrets, shame, and fear for the future.
Peopled with chance encounters and warmed with fireside heart-to-hearts, Road Signs that Say West is a compelling ride through real life.
About the author
Sylvia Gunnery is the author of nearly a dozen books for teens and younger readers. A retired teacher, she has been inspired by her students to create authentic and engaging stories. Out of Bounds was a Best Books for Kids and Teens Selection and was nominated for the Hackmatack Award. Her most recent novel is Emily For Real. Sylvia gives writing workshops in her home province of Nova Scotia and across Canada, encouraging young writers to find their own voices and tell their own stories.
- Commended, TD Canadian Children's Book Week: BC Interior sele
- Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre "Road Trip Reading
Praise for Road Signs That Say West
2018 TD Children's Book Week: BC Interior selection
2018 Canadian Children's Book Centre "Road Trip Reading List" selection
"With a cross-country road trip embarked on by three sisters, Gunnery captures the essence of the journeys that change us, leaving readers with an enduring sense of the Canadian landscape."—Amy Mathers, founder of the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award
"With a cast of interesting yet believable characters, Road Signs That Say West gives a realistic look into the lives and relationships of three very different yet inextricably linked sisters....The sisters in this story are believable and familiar without the author's resorting to clichés....The mentions of various cities and landmarks across the country is a perfect way to draw readers into the story. Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine
"What starts out as a daring cross-Canada romp evolves into an important journey of discovery, personal and philosophical, with important and realistic results."—Resource Links
"Sylvia Gunnery is able to show that the path through life has many bumps and turns along the way....Gunnery is sensitive, empathetic and insightful with these characters as they explore their paths. Young teens will easily identify with the characters as they enjoy a youthful summer trip. They may also relate to the secrets the characters disclose, navigating who to trust, and the bonds of siblings and true friendship. It is an engaging story about what it means to let go of the past and align yourself with the path to your own journey in life."—Canadian Children's BookNews
"Despite the weight of the themes Road Signs is funny and full of heart, with skillful depiction of the hooks and barbs of sibling rivalry."—Atlantic Books Today
"This is a quiet book, a literary book, and a difficult story to cram between two plain paper covers. A sisterly Bildungsroman is both vast and deep...I think [this book] crosses over well into being an adult read....Definitely not for the common crowd, this novel is made up of the pauses between growing pains, and will find its audience among those who have wished to draw closer to their families and see them as complex and enigmatic human beings, instead of the familiar souls they've always known. Perfect for people transitioning through stages of life, and wondering what more is out there."—Writing YA
"Road Signs That Say West could be a travel commentary of places east to west (I found myself looking up information about Glooscap, Weyburn, and more) but it's really a story of family, a real family, of siblings with secrets, weaknesses, strengths and ambitions that they may or may not share. The baggage that the girls take with them is far greater than their back stories and drives them to behave in complex and justifiable ways....young adult readers will appreciate the three different personalities Sylvia Gunnery has created as well as her story which takes the three to new places in their relationships within a colourful national landscape."—CanLit for LittleCanadians
"I was pulled to the storyline about three sisters who take a road trip....I like stories that center on sisterhood."—Library of Clean Reads
"I often wonder if I was brave enough to simply get in the car and drive, if I would have had the adventures sisters Hanna, Claire and Megan had in Road Signs That Say West."—Book Time
"This is a tale of sisters, with all the messiness that relationship brings. A tale of love despite differences, as they all prepare for what the future may bring them."—Canadian Bookworm