Can you imagine being stuck in a tiny car for 500 miles with an ex-boyfriend who tore your heart out and put it in a blender not too long ago? Sounds like absolute torture if you ask me. However, Beth O’Leary makes it a delightfully enjoyable experience in The Road Trip.
Addie and Dylan met one summer in Provence, where she and her sister were caretakers of a house. After a hot and steamy love affair, they return to their normal lives but decide to give their relationship a real shot.
Things are decidedly not easy for the couple, especially when jealousy and miscommunications abound. Addie and Dylan’s relationship can’t survive the circumstances, so when they break up, they decide to cut off all contact.
So many things change while they are apart, but so many remain the same. The chance encounter that leads to a shared car ride provides the opportunity for old ghosts to finally be banished and truths come to light.
Told in dual POV and dual timeline, Addie and Dylan’s story is an emotional journey through heartbreak and reconnection.
The premise of the ill-fated road trip to a friend’s wedding and all of the unexpected humorous twists in the present provides the comedic relief needed for learning the passionate yet devastating details of the past.
This book is heavier than previous works by O’Leary, but enjoyable nonetheless. I appreciate her care in building characters with vibrant personalities and putting them in situations that stretch their range and comfort zones. The character growth in The Road Trip is immense and totally satisfying.
I have loved reading all three of O’Leary’s books and appreciate each of their unique storylines and characters. They are a breath of fresh air and I can’t wait to read her next work!
When we walk back to the car, Dylan’s leaning against the side, arms folded, staring off to the left. He looks like he belongs on a poster for something. An indie band or an expensive cologne. He’s still scruffy and dreamy-eyed, but he’s more grown-up now – his edges seem cleaner cut.
I keep my eyes on him a little too long, and he catches my gaze for just an instant before I look back down at my feet.
“Addie,” he says, as we approach.
He steps forward to help me with the bags. I twist aside, moving past him to the boot of the car.
“Addie, come on,” he says, more quietly now. “We should talk. We’re going to be stuck in a car together for the best part of a day. Don’t you want to – you know – just… make it less… awkward?”
I slam the boot closed. I’ve just about fitted the extra snacks in, but there’s not much visibility out the back window now. Dylan and Marcus have packed like Mariah Carey, by the looks of things, and then there’s all Deb’s breastfeeding paraphernalia: two pumps, the cooling bag, spare bottles…
“I’m going to go for a wander, stretch out the legs,” says Rodney. “See you both in five minutes?”
I shouldn’t have said amicable-ish. He wouldn’t have left me alone with Dylan if I’d told him he ruined my life.
“Addie… can you not even look at me?”
I’m honestly not sure I can. Trying to look at Dylan hurts. It feels like we’re two magnets with the same force skitting away from one another. Instead, I look out towards the green where a few people are exercising their dogs. A little poodle going round in circles, a sausage dog in a ridiculous pink harness. I spot Marcus, crouched low to say hello to an Alsatian. I hope it’s an unfriendly one. I don’t want Marcus to get bitten or anything, but maybe he could get growled at a bit.
“Where’s Deb?” I ask.
“She got a call from your mum about Riley.”
I glance at him. “She told you about Riley?”
His gaze is soft. “Only just now. I thought you’d… I thought you would have told me, you know. Things like Deb having a baby.”
“We said no contact.”
“You said. Not we.”
I raise my eyebrows.
“Sorry,” he says. ”Sorry.”
I fiddle with my bracelets. My nails are newly painted for the wedding, but they’re so short they look a bit ridiculous. Little stubs of red.
“I’m really happy for Deb, anyway,” Dylan says, when I don’t respond.
“And a little surprised?”
He smiles, and I start smiling too, before I catch myself.
“Aren’t you going to ask who the father is?” I say.
“I assume she didn’t require one,” Dylan says. “Like Gaea, you know, when she gave birth to Uranus?”
The smile grows despite my best efforts. “You know I don’t,” I say dryly.
“Right,” he says hastily. He brushes his hair back, like it’s still long enough to fall in his eyes – an old tic. “Greek mythology, very pompous, arsey reference, forgive me. I just meant Deb’s never needed a man, has she? Not that anyone needs a man, but… ah, Christ.”
“Let’s get this show on the road!” comes a voice from behind us. Marcus barges past and opens the door to the back seats. “You might want to start up the engine. Rodney’s coming at quite a pace.”
I turn just as Deb appears, sliding her phone into her hoody pocket. She climbs in behind Marcus as I move to the driving seat. I panic: does that mean Dylan is going to sit up front with me?
“What’s Rodney doing?” Deb says.
I look over my shoulder, back towards the green. Rodney is running towards us in a great flail of long arms and legs, hair flying. Behind him is the Alsatian, dragging its owner by the lead.
“Oh, brilliant,” I mutter, clambering into the car and fumbling to turn the key in the ignition.
Marcus whoops as Rodney scrambles into the back, breathing hard.
“Sorry!” he calls. “Sorry! Sorry!”
Deb makes a squished sort of oof sound. “Watch those hands, please,” she says. That one strayed very close to my vagina.”
“Oh my god I’m so sorry,” says a mortified, breathless Rodney.
Dylan climbs into the front seat. He’s trying to catch my gaze again.
“No harm done,” Deb says. “I pushed a baby out of that thing, it’s sturdy.”
“Oh, no,” Rodney says. “Oh, I didn’t – I’m so sorry.”
“I forgot how much I like you, Deb,” Marcus declares.
“Really?” Deb says, sounding interested. “Because I don’t like you at all.”
Thank you for the advanced copy of THE ROAD TRIP by Beth O’Leary. All opinions are my own.
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date published : June 1, 2021
pages : 398
audiobook narrators: Josh Dylan, Eleanor Tomlinson
audiobook length: 10 hrs, 15 min
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.
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