Book Review: The Way Back To You
Published By: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Page Count: 384
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
Death is never easy, but it is the one common bond that transcends everything. Each one of us will deal with the death of people we love as we age. It's a fact. Knowing this doesn't make death any easier to handle when it is your friend, family member, or significant other. Grief is a beast that gnashes its teeth and claws at your soul. One way or another, grief must be dealt with or it will continue to feed off of you little by little. Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott have chosen to focus a lens on dealing with grief.
Cloudy never expected her best friend, Ashlyn, to die at sixteen. Who thinks about stuff like that? A freak biking accident took away the one person who knew her inside and out. It's only been six months, but Cloudy isn't sure when the drowning feeling will go away. She knows she has to find her new normal without Ashlyn, but she isn't sure she can let go of all their plans. How can she have a future without her best friend? How is she supposed to pick up the pieces? When will the guilt go away? Cloudy manages to look like she has everything together on the surface, but underneath she is falling apart a little more each day.
Kyle never expected his girlfriend, Ashlyn, to die at sixteen. One day he was telling her he loved her and kissing her goodbye, and the the next he was holding her hand while she was on life support. The moment the doctors told the family she was brain dead was the worst moment of his life - it even topped the day his mom walked out on him and his dad. Unlike Cloudy, Kyle hasn't been moving forward. He is stuck in a stagnant state with no plans to drag himself from the muck and attempt to live. Ashlyn wouldn't want to see Kyle so miserable, but nothing he used to love seems to help. His family is concerned, but he refuses to go to counseling and begins to bail on plans to get him out of the house and involved in the world.
Things shift for Cloudy and Kyle when Cloudy learns that Ashlyn's mom has been on contact with three individuals who received organ donations from Ashlyn. Ashlyn was the type of girl who was always looking for ways to help others and she managed to do this even in death. Cloudy hatches a plan to road trip from her home in Bend, Oregon to the homes of the organ recipients. She has to see that parts of Ashlyn still exist. Cloudy also hopes this could be her solution to finally creating her new normal. After running into Kyle, Cloudy realizes he might be more lost than she is, and she decides to convince him to join her on the trip.
Cloudy and Kyle travel from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada in this contemporary novel that shows that moving on is never as easy as it seems, but that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. As they travel, Cloudy and Kyle's relationship grows stronger and they catch glimpses of Ashlyn in the other person. The pair work through their issues with Ashlyn's death and their own complicated friendship as they meet each of the recipients. Road trips have a way of bringing people together and forging lifelong memories.
I loved this story. It was one of those novels that grabs your heart and refuses to let go. I felt the pain of losing Ashlyn with Cloudy and Kyle. While Ashlyn is never alive throughout the course of the novel, her presence is felt in every chapter. The memories of her exist as a supporting character. She is certainly the sort of girl whose death is a loss to the world as she has so much potential and compassion. I grew to love both Cloudy and Kyle as I journeyed with them in their stages of grief. As I learned in psychology, everyone will work their way through these stages, but the pacing varies based on the individual. I was pleased to leave Cloudy and Kyle on a hopeful note. I like the notion that part of us lives on in some form after we die.
One Last Gripe: I felt like things were still unresolved concerning Kyle's mom.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the family relationships. While Kyle and Cloudy don't always appreciate them, I loved that their families were always supportive.
First Sentence: Dear Recipient - It was suggested to me that I take time to grieve before reaching out to each of you.
Favorite Character: Cloudy
Least Favorite Character: Shannon
In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.
Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.
Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.
Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.
As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.
With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her...and to each other.