Review of Right of Way by Lauren BarnholdtTo be published by Simon Pulse
on July 9, 2013
Source: Thanks to Simon Pulse for approving me for an eARC on Edelweiss. Please see my FTC statement on right sidebar.
Summary (from Goodreads:) Here are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal. Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on. Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead…Buzzwords: road trip, exes with chemistry, a.k.a. I Want You Back (NSYNC version video below)
My take: I didn't realize that Right of Way was a companion book to Lauren Barnhold's 2007 book Two Way Street. I don't think I've read Two Way Street, but I'm happy to report that a) you don't have to have read it to understand Right of Way and b) Right of Way is the kind of book that Lauren Barnholdt does best: exes with sizzling chemistry.
Like my favorite book by this author, One Night That Changes Everything, Right of Way features a guy and a girl who are clearly crazy about each other but, through a series of complicated circumstances, are now broken up but still have feelings for each other. Then they're thrown back together, sparks fly, and you know the rest.
Right of Way had a narrative structure that worked at times and confused me a little at others. It's told from both Peyton and Jace's points of view, which, on the positive side, lets the reader see how crazy each is for the other. But the narrative also flashes back and forward to explain the incident that drove the two apart, and also a subsequent incident that caused Peyton to run away from home and put the couple in close proximity on a road trip as Jace drives her back home. It gets a little confusing at times as the storyline jumps from him to her and forward and back.
Then there was the running away from home thing. Yes, Peyton had a right to be really, really upset with one of her parents, but it didn't seem plausible to me that she'd just take off without confronting that person -- and with very little money and a flimsy plan. It's the kind of thing that a ten year old might do, but not a sixteen year-old.
That said, I thought Peyton and Jace were charming and hysterically funny. Peyton made me think of When Harry Met Sally:
Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally: Which one am I?
Harry: You're the worst kind; you're high maintenance but you think you're low maintenance.
It can be hard to write this kind of character and make her a huge pain in the butt and yet also lovable and sympathetic, but Peyton was all three. Jace also wins the guy Trifecta: he's gorgeous with a huge heart and an adorable dog who rides in the back seat as he drives Peyton from Florida to Connecticut.
Then there's the road trip itself. I just love road trip books, and this one has a lot of great elements: gas station snacks, the fender bender, and the motel scene.
Right of Way was a fun, chick flick-y kind book -- a perfect pick for summer.