It’s time for another book review! I unexpectedly ended up with almost an entire month off work in August, and it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with my reading (yes I know this review is long overdue). I was finally able to snuggle up with the latest novel from Beth O’Leary, which had been on my radar for quite a while. I don’t tend to read hardbacks and would usually wait for the paperback to come out, but when I stumbled upon a signed edition on Coles Books, I didn’t hesitate before buying it. I made the right choice as The Road Trip is a thoroughly entertaining novel and quite possibly my favourite Beth O’Leary book so far. It made me laugh, cry and want to whack some of the characters over the head for the silly choices they made! Scroll down for my full review of The Road Trip.
Addie and her sister are on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. But, not long after setting off, a car slams into theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, who she hasn’t seen since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. And with four hundred miles to go, they can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship . . .
Will they make it to the wedding? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?
Okay, so this book is amazing, isn’t it?! I wish I’d waited a little longer before posting My Top Auto-Buy Authors, because Beth O’Leary would definitely be on there! After falling in love with Beth O’Leary’s writing in The Flatshare last year, I had high expectations for her follow-up The Switch, and not only did I adore that book, but her third novel The Road Trip also managed to really impress me.
So what is The Road Trip about, I hear you ask? Well, as you can tell from the title, this book is about a road trip. Sisters Addie and Deb are planning a drama-free trip to their friend’s wedding in Scotland, only for another car to crash into them. And guess who happens to be in that car? None other than Addie’s ex Dylan and his friend Marcus. As Dylan’s car is basically unable to go anywhere, Addie begrudgingly offers the two men a lift to the wedding. Since Addie and Dylan didn’t exactly end things on good terms, and Marcus has his own issues, this is going to be a hell of a road trip.
The narrative in The Road Trip is split into 2 timelines: Now (the road trip) and Then (from the early days of Addie and Dylan’s relationship to their breakup). As with Beth O’Leary’s previous novels, we get to hear both Addie and Dylan’s perspectives. I honestly love this format as it enables us to see where exactly things started to go wrong for Addie and Dylan and how their breakup affected them. I really enjoyed reading about the early stages of their relationship, when they met in the villa in France and had to sneak around behind Dylan’s uncle’s back. The relationship started off as a whirlwind holiday romance and they were very intimate with each other, meaning that they weren’t able to get to know each other properly, and perhaps rushed into things. However, the fact that Addie and Dylan kept coming back to each other and couldn’t stop thinking about each other meant that maybe they were truly made for each other.
The actual road trip itself turns out to be a bit of a disaster. There’s so much tension in the car, especially at the start. Addie and Dylan aren’t exactly thrilled about having to sit in the same small space for several hours, and Dylan’s friend Marcus seems to be holding a grudge towards Addie. And then on top of that, Addie’s car breaks down too and there’s a brief period when Deb disappears. It seems like the group will never make it to the wedding.
The Road Trip introduces us to a whole load of characters, who are all complex and multi-layered and each have their own backstories. Marcus is so unlikeable for the majority of the book: he’s insistent on trying to break up Addie and Dylan. However, I did feel somewhat sorry for him when I found out about his troubled past. Dylan, on the other hand, is a very loyal friend and rushes to Marcus’s side whenever he’s in trouble, even though he’s hurting Addie by doing so. Deb adds a slice of humour to The Road Trip and the sisterly bond between Addie and Deb contrasts with the strained relationship between Dylan and his father. Uncle Terry crops up a few times and he is a real nuisance: he’s overbearing and doesn’t have any sense of personal space.
While The Road Trip is marketed as a contemporary romance novel, it does touch upon some heavy topics. I won’t go into too much detail in this review, but I will point out that there are mentions of rape, depression, homophobia, and addiction. Beth O’Leary handles these topics in a sensitive manner and doesn’t gloss over them. She explores victim-blaming and the effect substance abuse has on the people close to the victim.
All in all, The Road Trip is a brilliant book that will appeal to anyone who likes their contemporary novel to have a bit of substance. It’s a story about starting over and giving people second chances: there’s always two sides to every story and you should listen to both sides before forming a judgement. It’s also timely, with forced proximity being a major focal point of the story: I’m sure many of you would have been locked down with people who get on your nerves. The Road Trip is 400 hundred pages long, which is quite lengthy for a chick-lit novel, but it works. The chapters are very short, with only a few pages each, and I didn’t want to put it down. I actually devoured the second half of The Road Trip in a single evening!
I hope this review has persuaded you to add The Road Trip to your TBR list. If you haven’t read The Road Trip or Beth O’Leary’s other books, you’re seriously missing out! Don’t dismiss them as being “just another romcom” – they’re so much more than that.
What are you reading at the moment? I’ve just finished The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella – another book I’d wholeheartedly recommend!