Review: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Publisher: Quercus
Published: April 2021
Pages: 416


Addie and her sister are on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. But, not long after setting off, a car slams into theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, who she hasn’t seen since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. And with four hundred miles to go, they can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship . . .

Will they make it to the wedding? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

My Thoughts…

I read two of Beth O’Leary’s other books, The Flatshare and The No-Show, and enjoyed both despite some issues, so I approached The Road Trip with fairly high expectations. Sadly, this one was a bit of a miss for me.

The premise was really interesting: two sisters, one ex, one best friend and a random person are forced to travel to a wedding in a very, very small car. What could ever go wrong? Knowing Beth O’Leary’s style by now I was expecting a poignant story wrapped in some humour but, while her writing is flawless as usual, this book didn’t really hit the mark. The main issue I had with this was I just couldn’t care less about any of the characters. And the main couple I was supposed to be rooting for? I actually wished they would break up for good, so… not a great result.

The story is told in a dual POV (Addie’s and Dylan’s) and across two timelines, alternating the present-day road trip and the beginning of Addie and Dylan’s love story. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t too keen on the past timeline except in that it served to slowly unveil the reasons that brought them to break up. This summer romance honestly felt a bit too much like insta-love, with absolutely no reason for either of the characters to be as possessive as they were that early on in a mostly physical and quite superficial relationship. Nothing wrong with that if that’s what you’re going for, but their actions and thoughts just didn’t seem to match up, with them portraying this as the most amazing love story ever when in truth it just wasn’t that deep. When the big reveal of the reason behind their break-up came along after being teased for most of the book, I was frankly disappointed and more than a bit annoyed.

The road trip part of the story was much more engaging and had plenty of funny moments as well as some more insightful ones, where characters were given a chance to develop. These were still few and far between though, with the result that I actually did not care about the characters, not even enough to hate the most unlikeable ones. There was also a particularly problematic situation regarding one of the characters, which wasn’t really tackled in the way I would have expected having read the author’s other works. That being said, I did like the way the conversation around mental health was handled and the way one character matured by the end of the book, even though his behaviour had been appalling up to that point and it didn’t really feel as though that was fully addressed.

Despite these issues, Beth O’Leary’s writing is captivating, so much so that I was still entertained and had no problem finishing this book. I also alternated the ebook with the audio version, and the narrators made all the difference. Josh Dylan and Eleanor Tomlinson were absolutely perfect in this and added loads of charm to characters who would otherwise have had very little. Honestly, I may have enjoyed this book even less had I only read it, but the audiobook improved my experience of this.

I’m still curious to read The Switch and whatever Beth O’Leary writes next, but this one was very disappointing.

Rating: 2.75/5


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