The Car

ISBN: 0152058273
ISBN 13: 9780152058272
By: Gary Paulsen

Check Price Now


Adventure Childrens Books Cool Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Gary Paulsen To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Neglected by his parents, fourteen-year-old Terry Anders is used to taking care of things on his own. He even manages to assemble a car kit by himself. When the car is finished, Terry sets off from Cleveland to Portland in search of an uncle he barely remembers. Along the way, he is joined by a wise Vietnam vet who turns his journey into an adventure in learning.     Each book includes a reader's guide.  

Reader's Thoughts


The car by Gary Paulson is a great book. Its about a boy named Terry, whose parents left him at home. He finds a kit car in his garage and he builds it from scratch. After the car is built, he sets off into the west to find his uncle. On his way he finds a man names waylon who helps him along his journey.We loved reading the car, by Gary Paulson. This is a great book if you are a teenager because generally teens can relate to this book. Personaaly we rated this book a 4 out of 5. We rated it a 4 because there could have been a little more action throught the book. We strongly recomend this book to teens that love to read or espically love Gary Paulson books.:)

Michelle A

I approached this book with a thirst for road-trip-like novels, and for some years, this one had been sitting on my bookshelf, just waiting to happen. The premise seemed promising, a simple coming-of-age novel where boy, Terry, meets inspiring father-figure, Waylon, after being ditched by neglecting parents. And after hearing so many wonderful things about Gary Paulsen, I dove right into it.Sad to say thought, the moment I finished the book I merely closed it, rolled over and fell asleep feeling absolutely nothing except disappointment.First things first: as usual with teenage novels, the protagonist seems like your run-of-the-mill teenager who actually has hidden potential inside of him; in this case, a knack for mechanics that allows to rebuild an entire car at the age of fourteen. This may not be that unlikely had he already had experience with cars, but apparently, he knew nothing about anything. Also, from mowing lawns and stuff, he had saved up to nearly thirteen thousand dollars. These elements aren't that much of a big deal, but for me it takes away a large portion of reality from the story: this teenager is randomly very well equipped to jump ship and start traveling.Now, we have war veterans Waylon and Wayne. Alright, Vietnam was just a devastating war as any other, and the issues Waylon and Wayne (originality anyone?) show in front of Terry are due to the minor flashbacks Paulsen presents to us at the beginning. Actually, these flashbacks were really quite useless, I mean in itself it is horrible what happened, but I kept flipping the pages expecting to see more; instead, they're cut off as if nothing the moment Waylon meets Terry. What annoys me the most out of these characters is that they spend more than half of the novel shoving Terry around in the most condescending manner. Waylon says he must ask in order to learn then aggressively shoots him down when he asks something that THEY don't feel like answering. Waylon and Wayne take control of the trip itself, make it about them and start planning with Terry just sitting in the background, like an idiot. Yes, an idiot, that's how they mostly treat him, as if by some divine mandate they show Terry the world, which is why the moments Terry is "learning", I didn't buy them: the setting for his learning the truth about life and himself seem hardly inspirational. I mean, you need to learn to go hungry? But hey, Terry had no plans whatsoever, no family anymore, nothing but these two people he seems to become dependent of. When *SPOILERS* at the end he drives back to find them after the cowboy fight, the fight itself seemed more like a plot device to drive these characters together; out of conflict Terry realizes he just can't live without them anymore. Again, once it ended, I felt nothing. There were so many gaps and questions left out in the open that probably will never be answered. I kept waiting for Terry's parent to make an appearance, but again, plot device to kick-start the story. The random thing with Wanda the prostitute was nearly laughable. Most thing in the novel are randomly cut off, like they didn't happen, like they weren't important, and perhaps that's the way it happens in life, but novels need a little more push, they serve to drive from the mundane and motivate. Honestly, I could care less for a Marty Sue and his traumatized war veteran buddies.


This book is probably my favorite book Ive read so far. At times the book could be unrealistic but that doesnt matter to me because i have learned that life can sometimes seem unrealistic. It starts out with this boy named terry and his parents leave him with the other parent thinking that he is staying with the other one. Terry decides to put this car together that was his dads and drive across counrty with it. Terry runs into a couple of vietnam vets who teach him alot more about life and the world then terry ever knew before. I loved this book because the book had alot to do with cars (which I am defintely into) and living free with no worries what so ever. These are reasons that I could relate, and come to love this book. By the time I had finished the book I already had felt the need for more. The only part of the book I didnt like was the ending. I didnt like the ending because it was an open-ending and as far as I can tell there is no sequel. So the book gets you totally wrapped up in it then it leaves you hanging at the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever just wanted to leave their world behind with no worries and also someone who loves cars. If this is you then please read this book.

Conner2 Cain

Reading Strategy #1 PreviewI chose to read this book because I was sitting in class and did not have a book to read so I went over to the shelf and this was the only book I saw that looked quite interesting. The reason that I was interested in this book was the cover, and the title “The Car”. On the cover of the book it showed a visual view from the driver seat of an older fashioned car showing the windshield and the other gauges. I knew this book would be a good read because I like cars and from the title I knew it was going to be about cars.Reading Strategy #2 PredictJust from the first couple chapters of the book I knew things were going to escalate quickly. Just because it was said that the main character Terry had parents that were not the best parents to have, or more better said didn't pay much attention to him. I knew that since there was a car in the book and a young boy something would end up happening between the young boy and the car and they would go on an adventure or whatever. Turns out that that actually did happen and Terry decided to finish the last bits and pieces of work on the project car and leave for what I decided to call it an adventure.Reading Strategy #3 VisualizeIn my head this book created several pictures for me. Just from the start I visualized Terry and his parents just fighting and just not getting along from the beginning. And then the car came into play in the book and at first I pictured the main character terry crashing or doing something terribly wrong with it. Then once Terry left the house by himself and got Waylon and the other old man I started picturing a young boy running away from home and finding new friends with not a lot or enough money to live for long on his own. Turns out that for a couple of weeks Terry does get along pretty good for not having parents.Reading Strategy #4 Make InferencesReading the book “The Car” just really got my mind going and I made a a lot of inferences about the characters and what would happen next. When Terry and Waylon left and went to the white house with the people they thought were not normal, I made and inference when they first got there and thought something was going to go terribly wrong. Then they went on and drove to deadwood South Dakota, and since I know there has been lots of history with gambling there I thought that he would start to gamble and lose all of his money and be stranded there, turns out that didn't happen and that at first he was not the best at gambling but after a while he started to get the hang of it and didn't lose all of his money but was actually very successful.Reading Strategy #5 ConnectI can connect to the book the car because I am a young boy that drives and likes to experience new things. The book showed me that me and the main character Terry are similar and like to do some of the same things. I recommend this book to anybody who likes to read adventure stories and likes cars since that's the title of the book and its what it is mainly about.

Cierra Medmea

-- I read the back of the book when i forgot my book to bring my book to class. -- The setting takes place across the U.S because there traveling and they don't stay in one place for long. -- The conflict started that his parents don't get along at all, Than one day both of them decided to leave not knowing that both of them left 14 year old Terry to raise him self. Than Terry decided to fix up there old car and travel to go find his uncle. -- Terry is a 14 year old boy, He has always kinda kept to him self, and raised him self. He didn't depend on anyone else but him self. Terry is very smart for a 14 years old be built a whole car by him self only using directions. I think that he is a strong kid because he has gone threw a lot; he raised him self, He never gave up on how hard things got. Also he is very determined because he doesn't have his licenses and he never stops driving he drove half was across the U.S. "Adults are locked into car payments and divorces and work. They haven't got time to think fresh." -- The theme i think is adventure, because he doesn't know how to get to his uncles. He learns a lot of new stuff while on the road with the 2 veterans. -- While reading the book i used Visualized him driving across the U.S in this nice big car. All the land markers he is seeing, all the new stuff he is discovering. I also connected with him when he drove threw South Dakota and was talking about how there was just land after green land, Because when i came to South Dakota that what i thought, He was saying how it seem like the green land never ends and it's kinda boring to look at. The last one i used was predict at the being of the story the chapter ends by him look at all the car pieces laying on the ground, And i predicted that he was going to attempt to put this car together. --I really enjoyed reading The Car because I really connected to the book and to the main character, Terry. He is a 14 year old, just like me . Right in the beginning, I knew I was going to love this book. I thought that is was sad that his parents never wanted him and he was never treated right by them since the beginning. He seemed to be able to take care of himself very well though. He always wanted to pay for his own gas when Waylon offered to and always wanted to pay for his own meals. He was every independent for himself, Didn't expect anything from anyone.

Alex Schantzen

The CarGary PaulsenTerry Anders is a 14 year old boy when his parents left him due to marital problems. Terry's dad had a car kit that he got from a guy who didn't make payments to him. Terry started working on it and after a week or so got it running. Terry's plan was to drive to Oregon to see his uncle but he would encounter many distractions on the way. Terry was heading down the interstate until it started pouring rain so he pulled over onto an exit to take a nap. He was woken up by a homeless guy named Waylon. Waylon then asked if he could travel with Terry for awhile. While traveling the encountered a couple guys in a truck who threw a beer bottle at them. Waylon told Terry to follow them into a gas station where Waylon beat them up. They made their way to Waylon's friends house in Omaha, Nebraska. Wayne helped Terry put a supercharger in his car. They then made it up to an old guys trailer. His name is Samuel and he tells historical stories. Then it's Waylon's turn to choose where they travel. He chooses Deadwood. They go gambling and Waylon wins $18,000 which he splits three ways. They continue heading west into Wyoming. They meet some bullriders there and Waylon again, beats them up. This time the cops are on there trails. They tell Terry to continue on because he was underage so Terry keeps on going. Terry eventually turns around to help them and then the book ends.I rate this book a 4 out of 5This book is a very good book. It keeps interest and has a good story line. Gary Paulsen isn't the kind of author that hides opinions in his books, he mainly writes about adventures.I would recommend this book to any reader who wants a good read. They will not be able to put this book down.

Haley Grizzell

Besides evoking a type of independence and tough-mindedness that will appeal to teens, this provocative novel introduces and explores some interesting philosophies of life while stressing the value of learning from experience. I took one star off for the tedious description of how the car was put together and every stupid sandwich Terry ate while making it. I also took off a star for the awkward ending. It seemed like Gary Paulsen ran out of ideas, and just ended the story the quickest way he could. Overall, the book was okay and provided interesting experiences about the Vietnam War and trucking, both areas not typically explored by me.


This book is about a boy who is abandoned at only age 14. Even tho he is only 14 he does alot of work during the summer and has some cash. So when his parents abondone him he fixes up an old barkly cat kit car. He loves working on engines and so he decides to fix up this car that has been sittn in his garage for a while. After he fixes the car he decides to go out and find his uncle that lives in oregon. He then ends up traveling alot threw the united states and learns alot of new stuff that has happened in the states also were it has happened. I like this book because it tells you alot about what you could be doing and how to learn more about what has happened in the united states. Also you could get alot of experience if you just drive around the united states and explore the history of this country.

Matthew Tyler

The Car by Gary Paulsen is about a fourteen year old boy named Terry Anders who is from Cleveland, Ohio. He had been living there by himself since his parents had a left him. Then he decided to build the kit car his father had and it was called a Blakely Bearcat. After he built it, he decided to head west to Portland, Oregon to see his uncle. Along the way there he picked up two Vietnam war veterans named Waylon and Wayne. He met Waylon one night when it was raining and Waylon suggested to go see his friend Wayne and when they found Wayne, he went along with them. They helped Terry travel west and they helped him learned along the way. They took him to see many different things in America to help him learn more about people, more about America, and ultimately more about himself.


The carGary PaulsenTerry anders was a 14 year old boy and he built a kit car that his dad got from being a mechanic. His parents split up at the beginning of the book so he wanted to take a road trip to oregon to see his uncle. He started on his journey he met waylon on the side of the interstate. They kept heading west and waylon said they should meet his friend wayne in omaha, nebraska so he could put on a supercharger on the "cat". So after wayne boosted his car he joined them on their journey and he rode his harley the whole way. Then they went to south dakota tofind samuel, who is very old and tells historical stories al the time. Next waylon goes to a small town in south dakota to play poker and he won 18,000 dollars and split it between him wayne and terry.They kept heading west and in wyoming they ran into some bullriders and waylon beat one up. Then they left and the bullriders followed so waylon beat the rest of them up. But the police were hot on the trios tail so they told terry to leave because he is underage. The book ends by terry heading west but he decides to turn around and help wayne and waylon.I rate this book a 4 out of 5This book was very entertaining and once you started reading you couldn't put it down.THe author didn't raise ony opinions in this bookGary paulsen writes without raising opinions.Overall this book is a must read and i would recommend to anyone who likes adventures.collin thorson p.4

Nathan Wilson

The book was about a kid whose parents got into a fight one night, and the next morning when they went to work they called and said they weren't coming back ever because one thought the other was going he built a kit car that had been sitting in their garage forever, then he ends up heading to the west coast looking for his uncle.I rated this book a five because it was very exciting and clear


ROAD TRIP TO SELF DISCOVERYPaulsen's 1993 road trip odyssey proves surprisingly interesting reading for adults, as well as for its YA audience, despite the virtually all-male cast of characters. The book chronicles several weeks in the life of a 14-year-old "emancipated adult." Finding himself suddenly on his own Terry gradually carves out a temporary existence for himself free of adult supervision--or in his parents' case: gross neglect. Unshackled by his father's negativity the young protagonist decides to finish the assembly of a Kit Car (Bearcat) which lies in piles aroundn the garage--also abandoned by his father.Terry becomes obsessed with its completion and gradually speaks To the car--His car--which emerges as THE CAT. Neglecting personal health and the outside world he labors with patience and automotive intuition to create something that actually runs. At 3 am he takes the next logical step: a test run in the neighborhood. Eventually Terry decides to abandon the empty Detroit house--having the vague plan of seeking an uncle out west in Oregon. With little gear but plenty of lawn mowing money the under-aged boy sets off with no driver's license, learner's permit (or even lessons), in an unusual car bearing illegal plates (from another car.) How long will he get away with it before being stopped?Now on this cross-country gig Terry is assisted by two men who, one at a time, become his highway mentors--teaching him the joys and challenges of "Trucking." Although both display character flaws and carry heavy emotional baggage, the former Vietnam buddies have absolute faith in The Road. Terry grows to realize their hope for their lives, and trusts in their knowledge of human nature. First he is commandeered by Waylon during a rainstorm---a man who reads Shakespeare and plays the guitar. Then he meets his pal, Wayne, an artist who loves his Harley named Baby. Taking him under their macho wings, the two W's decide to show him the Real America--the complete story which Terry has obviously not learned in school. They urge him to put his Oregon plan on hold while they introduce him to the Finishing School of the Road--insisting that to be on the road is the best way to learn.And learn Terry does--though one wonders why school authorities or his neighbors never notify the police of the boy's absence. While shucking his adolescent duties Terry embarks on a wild ride not entirely of his conscious planning. He is introduced to people--characters of deep meaning to his vagabond mentors--and places of significance to all Americans. One suspects that GP was reliving some of his macho glory days in these pages--with his frequent references to Politics and nostalgic "old time" country musicians--as if he wants to ensure that the 90's generation grows up not in total ignorance of the pop culture of the past. The nebulous ending reveals that Terry has learned the meaning of Loyalty, and possibly suggests a sequel: The Journey of Self Discovery. (October 27, 2010. I welcome dialogue with teachers.)

Noah G

The book The Car, by Gary Paulsen is a very interesting book that is similar to Voss, by David Ives and Salt, by Maurice Gee. They are similar because they both have the main character meet an interesting person that affects their judgement in a positive way. They learn a lot along the way and become more open while learning to care for people as well. They learn how to overcome fears and do what’s right.Terry Anders from Cleveland, Ohio is the main character in this book. You learn more and more about him as the story goes on based off of his actions. This aspect of the book was very interesting because even on the last page there was still things to learn from him. Despite things being sour in the beginning of the book, he still goes on and things don’t affect him very much, as you will learn throughout reading the book. “His mother called First. ‘Terry, I’m not coming home...’” (9) “His father called just after nine. ‘Tell your mother i’m not coming back-I've got all my Stuff, or everything I want...’” (9)After the initial, “what the heck is book turning into?”, he decides to do something half sensible, and go to his uncles. . . across the country. “Yea. We’ll go out and see the uncle.We’ll head out west.” (30)During his journey he meets an interesting person named Waylon. Waylon teaches him to learn from everything and that nobody can know all. He has some temperamental issues that make it more interesting and keeps you wanting to read. The author couldn't have done any better in portraying him and keeping the reader hooked. Their journey leads Waylon to something he regrets, “I . . . hit . . . them wrong... We’ll talk to Wayne in a couple of days, work on the car, smooth the world off a little,” (78) and takes him to another interesting character, Wayne.When they get to Waynes, Terry starts learning. He is taught a little more about cars and it is here his journey truly begins. Terry started to become more curious and ask more questions, wondering how people lived and how things worked. He discovered talents and found he would like to do. That is what keeps the book interesting. It’s the fact that he is always learning and always discovering and revealing himself. Waylon and Wayne are always learning as well. Their experiences a little more predictable but still interesting and still shocking. These characters are like two peas in a pod, If you have one, the other has to be there to complete it, and seems as though it’s always been that way. All of the bonds and experiences the characters go through together intensify the story. The characters have very clear morals and this makes them stronger. They are all great. Most of the time.There is one character that isn't quite up to par and makes no reason to talk about, except now. His name is Samuel. Samuel is a very old man that walks the walk and talks the talk, plus has an obsession with sugar. His traits are very weird and unappealing. He does some weird things and says some weird things that makes the book seem as though if intended for little children, thus he isn't very good. ‘It’s good to have friends, but it’s better to have friends with sugar.’” (119) That was one of the statements that threw the book off track and didn't need to be there.While learning from all of these characters he truly learns what it means to learn. In the beginning he didn't understand, didn't listen and questions things to early. It was interesting to hear the reactions of the others while he was doing so and it gave the feeling of learning off and let you know when it was happening. It was apparent and didn't need any further explanation. Discovering himself through “trucking” (Traveling with no long term objective). “Trucking” is what led to unveiling of the big picture. It showed the true lesson intended from the author, and was very clever. It made me want to continue on and probably did the same for all other readers, to learn. The Car was a Young Adult - Fiction book. This young adult had to learn and showed that everybody has something to learn. Even the older characters were learning about the stupidity of some of humanity, and the brilliances of other parts or groups. Nobody is ever too old to learn, according to the message of the book. Young adult literature does have its downsides in the fact that you only see from a young person's point of view, and ignorance is sometimes seen. Clouded judgement is also very common and could be resolved from having a more mature point of view. I have read other books of this genre and liked them, but not quite as much as this one but will keep searching for one of equivalence to achieve equilibrium in the literature world. The Car was almost inspiring.So, after analyzing the book it is a definite four and a half out of five. Normally there is a lot of leniency from my part, but I am being a little bit more a critic this time around. Despite have very clever characterization and morals, there are some aspects of learning not covered and some points that seem unfinished. Overall it is very well written and I would recommend this to anyone considering reading the book.


I thought this was a great book. It was not at all what I expected, but I ended up really liking the characters in the story. My 13 year old son first read the book & recommended it. It is a great book to get teens to just think. My favorite quote would have to be, "Are you feeling froggy?" I had to laugh out loud.


I read this some years ago and still remember the impact it had on me. I started thinking like I was 14 again. It is a fun read for any guy who dreamed of cars and adventure as a kid.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *