Audiobook Review: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Title: The Road Trip
Author: Beth O’Leary
Narrators: Josh Dylan, Eleanor Tomlinson
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: June 1, 2021
Print length: 398 pages
Audio length: 10 hours 15 minutes
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Two exes reach a new level of awkward when forced to take a road trip together in this endearing and humorous novel by the author of the international bestseller The Flatshare.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland–he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart–and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

In The Road Trip, exes Dylan and Addie are forced into spending time together on a road trip from hell. In sections alternating between “Now” and “Then”, we see the awful hours spent in the car as well as flashbacks to their first days of romance — and most importantly, learn how they went from swooningly in love to completely estranged over the last few years.

Addie and Dylan first meet in the most romantic of settings, a huge villa in the south of France where Dylan is vacationing and Addie is the summer caretaker. There’s an immediate attraction, and within days they’re spending every waking moment together (as well as every night in bed together). Even when they’re joined by a swarm of Dylan’s buddies (including his posh but toxic best friend Marcus), Dylan and Addie are inseparable.

When the holidays are over, they pick up their relationship back in England, but not without hiccups. Addie is a teacher in training, and Dylan is still trying to find himself. He’s a poet, and wants to pursue a graduate English degree, but his domineering, emotionally abusive father wants him to either join the family business or be cut off entirely. On top of this, Marcus wants Dylan by his side constantly and resents Addie’s presence, and does what he can to pry the two apart.

Meanwhile, in the “now” portions of the story, the cramped Mini and its passengers encounter hazards and accidents and a variety of unfortunate escapades they make them later and later to the wedding. The upside of the crowded car and the endless hours on the road is that Dylan and Addie are literally thrown together, and are finally forced to confront the circumstances that drove them apart. Emotions run high, truths are shared, and ultimately, the couple have an opportunity to face the problems that came between them and to admit to the deep love that still exists.

The Road Trip is not nearly as light and fluffy as I’d expected it to be, but it works remarkably well. The “now” side of things is mostly light-hearted and comical — there’s spilled breast milk and a random trucker and an ill-timed pee break and a musty motel room without enough beds… not to mention a mad dash to save the bride from a stalker and getting lost in a faux castle. It can be quite silly, but the more we get to know the characters, the more endearing it all is.

In the “then” parts of the story, Addie and Dylan go through tremendous ups and downs, and these sections are much more wrenching than the “now”. The author gives a sensitive portrayal of two young adults with enormous chemistry and a deep love between them, yet shows that other people and other problems can derail even the most devoted of couples. A love story that starts in a summer villa has the feel of a perfect fantasy romance, but when it has to survive in the real world of jobs and family and unreliable friends, the fantasy elements fall away and the couple’s love faces its hardest tests.

I listened to the audiobook, and it was wonderful. There are different narrators for the Addie and Dylan sections, and can I just take a minute to fangirl over the fact that Eleanor Tomlinson narrates Addie??? Eleanor Tomlinson is the actress who played Demelza in the BBC series Poldark, and she’s wonderful. Her narration gives so much character and expressiveness to Addie. I’m not sure whether I’d have enjoyed it nearly as much in print — the narration is that good!

Overall, The Road Trip is often touching, sometimes very sad, quite a bit silly, and frequently very romantic. There’s a nice mix of serious and fun moments, and the framing of a hellish road trip works very well as a contrast to the sweetness and then sorrow of the earlier days of Addie and Dylan’s relationship.

The characters are all well-drawn and nicely detailed, from leads Addie and Dylan, to an array of supporting characters including sad-sack Rodney, unsteady and mostly unlikeable Marcus, Addie’s wild sister Deb, and the very over-the-top bride Cherry. Their banter and arguments and lighter moments feel very in tune with how they’ve been depicted, and I really enjoyed the time spent with them.

The Road Trip is a great summer read, and I especially recommend the audiobook edition. Enjoy!

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Shelf Control #280: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: 2010
Length: 343 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

When you’re on a road trip, life is all about the detours. . . .

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There’s just one small problem: Since her father died this past spring, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute … and dealing with some baggage of his own.

Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father’s death were not what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most—and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition over five years ago.

Why I want to read it:

This is another book that’s been in my Kindle library for long enough that I forgot all about it! I must have seen it on as a Kindle Daily Deal and decided to grab it.

I haven’t been reading a whole lot of YA lately, but this one does sound like fun. I’m always up for a good road trip story, and I’ve heard such good things about Morgan Matson. The plotline sound very cute and also like it could be touching, since it deals with loss and grief and tough family situations.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!


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Top Ten Tuesday: Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Top Ten Books Featuring Travel

Public domain image from www.public-domain-image.com

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week.

This week’s theme is Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book) . Great topic for kicking off all that summer reading we’re just dying to get to… and for getting in the mood for summer vacation!

I may be stretching a bit for some of these, but here are the top ten books I’ve read that involve planes, trains, automobiles… ships, horses, spaceships… So long as it’s a form of transportation, it counts! (Note: I’m providing links to the books on this list which I’ve reviewed here at Bookshelf Fantasies. Click if you want to find out more!)

1) Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. Book three in the amazing Outlander series features a whole boatload of travel, literally, as our heroes make a perilous Atlantic crossing, back in the days before luxury cruise ships. 18th century sea voyages were not pretty, people.

Voyager (Outlander, #3)

2) Morgan’s Run by Colleen McCullough. Another sea voyage! Another really uncomfortable, unhygienic, and altogether awful sea voyage, in this case transporting prisoners from England to the newly established penal colonies in Australia. Terrific book, terrible travel conditions.

Morgan's Run

3) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Think of a cross between Drop Dead Gorgeous and Survivor, and you get an idea of the weird zaniness that is Beauty Queens, an amazingly funny young adult novel about a group of teen beauty contestants stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash.

Beauty Queens

4) Changeless by Gail Carriger. Speaking of air travel — the 2nd book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series features a delightful journey (or float, to use the correct parlance) by dirigible. Very proper, very Victorian, very fashionable.

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)

5) The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison. This affecting, sad-with-a-touch-of-humor tale of a caregiver and his young charge includes an ill-advised road trip through the American West, with stops at bizarre roadside attractions such as the world’s biggest pit. (review)

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

6) Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston. Talk about a terrible journey. You really can’t get much worse than the horse and wagon caravan crossing the Sierra Nevadas in the middle of winter. Yes, this book is about the Donner party — but quite a bit of it is about the caravan’s ill-fated early stages as the wagons cross mile after mile of wilderness in hopes of making it to the golden land of California before first snow.

Snow Mountain Passage

7) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. My only non-fiction title on this week’s list, Wild is a travelogue within a memoir — or is a memoir within a travelogue? Take one terribly unprepared hiker, put her on a months-long journey by foot from Southern California to the Washington/Oregon border, and you get a riveting tale of travel and self-discovery. And lots of drama about the condition of the author’s feet. (review)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

8) NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Maybe not an obvious choice for a list about travel, but this super-creepy horror novel revolves around several key vehicles: a Rolls Royce Wraith,  a Triumph motorcycle, and a Raleigh Tuff Burner bicycle. Hell on wheels, indeed. (review)

NOS4A2

9) Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn. Main character Elizabeth (as in, her royal highness the Queen of England), bored one day, decides to get on a public train and go visit her decommissioned yacht. Mrs. Queen quite enjoys her train voyage, rubbing elbows with her unsuspecting subjects and visiting the snack car. Quite a remarkable outing, all in all. (review)

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train

10) I did say something about spaceships, didn’t I? For my #10 entry, it’s a toss-up between several sci-fi books that feature long and important journeys by spaceship to far-off worlds. Hey, it’s a kind of travel!  My favorite space travel books are:

The Sparrow (The Sparrow, #1)Children of God (The Sparrow, #2)RedshirtsAcross the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)

  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (and the sequel, Children of God) — for serious questions about faith, with truly unforgettable, heartbreaking characters
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi — if you want to laugh out loud (review)
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis — for a bit of YA romance mixed into a mysterious space adventure

Honorable mention:

Because I never seem to be able to stop at just ten, I’ll include a few other books that popped out at me before I could hit “publish”.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightJust One Day (Just One Day, #1)Where'd You Go, BernadetteLife of Pi

  • The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith — on an airplane!
  • Just One Day by Gayle Forman — on a train! on a boat! (review)
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple — on a cruise to Antarctica! (review)
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel — on a lifeboat! With a tiger!

Okay, stopping now. What did I miss? What are your favorite books featuring travel? In looking back at my list, I see an awful lot of awful travel experiences. I hope you came up with a cheerier batch of books than I did!

Happy trails!

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