Author: Michelle Andreani, Mindi Scott
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Katherine Tegen via Edelweiss
In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.Review by Nara
Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.
Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.
Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.
As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.
With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her...and to each other.
The Way Back to You was a quick, simplistic road trip novel that was relatively enjoyable. I think on the whole, the plot was a bit basic, and I feel like the book didn't offer much in terms of new content in the contemporary YA genre (I guess I read too much contemporary for this to happen as often these days to be honest). The pace was pretty slow, but I think this was an okay choice in a book that was mostly character focused.
The characters were relatively well developed, but I didn't feel like I connected to them as much as I would have liked. Cloudy and Kyle were both quite likeable and their slow-burn friendship/romance was also pretty well written, but I did feel throughout the book that there was that little something missing. I just didn't feel as invested in them as I often do with protagonists in other contemporary novels.
To be honest, the premise of the story was pretty unethical- Cloudy reads Ashlyn's mother's emails where she's been contacting the people who received transplants from Ashlyn's organ donations, prints them off and then decides to visit all these people. I feel like the aspect of the plot dealing with death and grief wasn't particularly emotionally charged, which is probably what detracted most from my enjoyment of the novel.
Overall, the book was pretty enjoyable, but it would be unlikely that I'd give it a reread. Could be worth borrowing it from the library or something.