Title: The Whole Way Home by Sarah Creech
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
A radiant talent on the brink of making it big in Nashville must confront her small-town past and an old love she’s never forgotten in this engaging novel—a soulful ballad filled with romance, heartbreak, secrets, and scandal from the author of Season of the Dragonflies.
Playing to packed houses while her hit song rushes up the charts, country singer and fiddler Jo Lover is poised to become a one-name Nashville star like her idols, Loretta, Reba, and Dolly. To ensure her success, Jo has carefully crafted her image: a pretty, sassy, down-to-earth girl from small-town Virginia who pours her heart into her songs.
But the stage persona she’s built is threatened when her independent label merges with big-time Capitol Records, bringing Nashville heartthrob JD Gunn—her first love—back into her life. Long ago Jo played with JD’s band. But they parted ways, and took their own crooked roads to stardom. Now Jo’s excited—and terrified—to see him again.
When the label reunites them for a show, the old sparks fly, the duet they sing goes viral, and fans begin clamoring for more—igniting the media’s interest in the compelling singer. Why is a small-town girl like Jo so quiet about her past? When did she and JD first meet? What split them apart? All too soon, the painful secret she’s been hiding is uncovered, a shocking revelation that threatens to destroy her reputation and her dreams. To salvage her life and her career, Jo must finally face the past—and her feelings for JD—to become the true Nashville diva she was meant to be.
The Whole Way Home by Sarah Creech is a compelling novel set against the backdrop of the country music scene.
Joanne “Jo” Lover has remained true to the country music she began playing as an up and coming star. Signed with independent label, Asphalt Record, she has retained creative control over her music and she is definitely on track for hitting it big. Engaged to marry her music producer, Nick Sullivan, she is dismayed to learn that her future father-in-law who also owns Asphalt, has just signed a deal with her childhood friend, first musical collaborator-and her first love-J.D. Gunn. Their parting of ways was less than amicable and Jo has been extremely vocal in her belief that J.D. sold out when he stopped writing his own songs in order to churn out the typical beer drinking, pick-up truck and girl chasing songs that are so popular in country music today. After they perform a duet at an event, the video goes viral and now Asphalt Record wants them to collaborate on a new album together. In the midst of this professional turmoil, Jo cannot forget what J.D. once meant to her and a reporter is trying to dig up dirt on her long ago past.
Jo is an extremely talented singer/songwriter and she has amassed an incredibly loyal fan base. She has never compromised her musical integrity in order to fill Nashville’s vision of today’s country music. She is an ardent champion of female country artists and she is quite outspoken in her belief that women singers deserve equal airtime with their male counterparts. Jo has never regretted her decision to sign with Asphalt Record and she is grateful for Nick’s assistance in helping shape her career. Despite their long standing acquaintance and her admiration for her new fiancé, she has not confided certain aspects of her past to him. With utterly disparate backgrounds, Jo has no doubt there is no way he can understand certain aspects of her life before she moved to Nashville.
J.D. and his band the Empty Shells are wildly popular but he is at the point where he wants to regain creative control over his career. Ready to return to his roots, he is eager to begin working on their next album. It has been several years since his path last crossed with Jo but he is well aware of her opinion that he is a sellout. He is surprised when his old feelings for Jo immediately rise to the surface and while he would not deliberately sabotage her relationship with Nick, he does not hesitate to bring up memories of their time together as children and their early years together in Nashville. He is quick to take advantage of an opportunity for them to perform together but J.D. is disappointed when their first attempts to write new material do not go well.
The Whole Way Home is a captivating novel with wonderful cast of eclectic characters and an engaging storyline. Sarah Creech provides readers with an intriguing behind the scenes peek into the country music industry that is quite fascinating and very illuminating. Jo’s relationship with J.D. is heartwarming yet troubled due to their complicated history. A shocking plot twist late in the story threatens to destroy everything Jo holds dear and the future of her career hangs in the balance.
A thoroughly engrossing, feel good story that will to appeal to music lovers of all types.