Title: The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. But the start of summer marks new beginnings, and Harley leaves for a cross-country road trip to scatter her mother’s ashes with Dean, her friend (with benefits). The two ride by motorcycle, reconnecting with people who knew her mother along the way.
But it’s not long before Harley realizes she’s pregnant…with Dean’s child. And as Harley learns that her mother faced similar choices during her own pregnancy, Harley must come to terms with her mother’s past to make a difficult decision about her own future.
The Long Ride Home by Tawni Waters is a poignant yet surprisingly sometimes humorous young adult novel about a teenager’s road trip to scatter her beloved mother’s ashes.
Six months after the death of her mom, Harley is still deeply grieving her loss. In the aftermath of her mother’s death, she moves from New York to California to live with her mom’s best friend, Mercy. Angry, hurting and suffering from anxiety attacks, Harley’s only friend (with benefits) is Dean and when she asks him to join her on her cross country trek to spread her mom’s ashes, he agrees without hesitation. However, Harley is keeping a big secret from Dean and she is quick to lash out in anger when she feels overwhelmed by the events that have occurred in recent months.
Harley is incredibly prickly and antagonistic but it is impossible not feel empathy for everything she has recently experienced. She uses sarcasm and snark as a defense mechanism when things become too emotional for her. She also shuts down instead of discussing important issues and she is also quick to run away from her problems instead of facing them head on. Her road trip to take her mom’s ashes back to New York quickly turns into an emotional journey in which Harley learns some unpleasant truths about her mother’s past. However these negative discoveries are offset by the realization that Harley is not as alone as she believes and that there are people in her life whom she can count on. Harley makes several impetuous decisions that are somewhat self-destructive but some of her choices are also unexpectedly healing.
The Long Ride Home is an emotionally compelling, gritty young adult novel. Tawni Waters deftly handles difficult subject matter with sensitivity and she brilliantly balances the more sorrowful moments with humor. With a realistic storyline, a feisty lead protagonist and an endearingly charming hero, this thought-provoking novel is well-written with an unexpected ending. An excellent story that I highly recommended to adult and older teen readers.