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Why We Took the Car

By Wolfgang Herrndorf


A darkly funny coming-of-age story from an award-winning, bestselling German author making his American debut.

Mike Klingenberg doesn't get why people think he's boring. Sure, he doesn't have many friends. (Okay, zero friends.) And everyone laughs at him when he reads his essays out loud in class. And he's never invited to parties - including the gorgeous Tatiana's party of the year.

Andre Tschichatschow, aka Tschick (not even the teachers can pronounce his name), is new in school, and a whole different kind of unpopular. He always looks like he's just been in a fight, his clothes are tragic, and he never talks to anyone.

But one day Tschick shows up at Mike's house out of the blue. Turns out he wasn't invited to Tatiana's party either, and he's ready to do something about it. Forget the popular kids: Together, Mike and Tschick are heading out on a road trip. No parents, no map, no destination. Will they get hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere? Probably. Will they meet crazy people and get into serious trouble? Definitely. But will they ever be called boring again?

Not a chance.


Reviews and Awards

A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2014
A Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature Best Book of the Year
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

⋆ “In his first novel translated into English, Herrndorf sits squarely and triumphantly at the intersection of literary tall tale and coming-of-age picaresque.” - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

⋆ “German novelist Herrndorf makes his YA (and U.S.) debut with this action- and emotion-packed story of surprise summer adventure…. This alternately wild, sad, hilarious, and tender tale chronicles the development of a strange and beautiful friendship.” - Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Exuberant… The liveliness and charm of the two boys carry the reader along.” - New York Times

“Surprising, tender and deliciously absurd… Tim Mohr’s translation is so deft that readers ages 14 and older will be able to enjoy the book's feeling of foreignness without encountering any jolts in the language or humor.” - Wall Street Journal

“The story is offbeat and funny, and the main characters incisively drawn… Has a rollicking Gordon Korman feel.” - School Library Journal

“Mike’s journey from dull to confident teen is an enjoyable one. Well translated, this is a good choice for readers looking for a contemporary realistic novel with a humorous sense of adventure.” - Booklist

“Mike’s narration is an anxious stream of wry humor and linked anecdotes, but the moments when his façade slips are abrupt and startling windows into the pain of social exclusion and the aching loneliness of being fourteen. A sharp coming-of-age journey, hilarious and heartrending in equal measure.” - Horn Book

“A bumpy, exhilarating ride… Though labeled boring by fellow students, Mike proves anything but in this lively bildungsroman, rich with funny, poignant riffs on nicknames, boomerangs, Beyoncé, aging and the possibility of life on other planets.” - Washington Post

“A diverting outing.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


Purchase Options
Indiebound • Scholastic Store • Amazon • Barnes & Noble


Spring 2014
Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-545-48180-9
Price: $17.99/$19.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 256
Foreign Rights: Rowohlt Verlag
Translation Rights: Rowohlt Verlag
Rights Available? yes