I am not a fan of angst-ridden romances, and I recognise how easy it is to wallow in the sunshine and roses of a romance novel, but sometimes you need the wallop an angst-filled story provides to help you recalibrate. And boy, does Kandi Steiner’s On The Way To You deliver that wallop.
Emery Reed is somewhat grudgingly taking a road trip across America, a trip to fulfil his grandmother’s dying request. Along the way he meets the ever-positive Cooper Owens. She has plans and is slowly working towards them. Yet when Emery asks if she’s happy, her moment of clarity comes and she decides to take him up on his invitation to join him on the road.
While the trip physically takes our couple across America, the journey is more about the emotional and intellectual journey Emery and Cooper take, both as individuals and ultimately as a couple. It’s an awakening for both of them, and with this comes actions and the resulting fallout when things don’t go to plan. This story is not about miscommunication, it’s about emotions running so deep they are paralysing, especially for Emery.
I’ll admit I did cry at times when reading this book. Emery’s external façade is easily described but the internal struggles and impact they have is untold. What this book shows is that there is no one-solution-fits-all to depression. Scarily, it showed me how easy it could be to fall into a depression especially since some of the things that filtered through Emery’s mind have gone through mine over the years.
Cooper has her own struggles, and for a 20 year-old woman she has suffered plenty. Overall she has a positive attitude but like all young adults, is suffering uncertainty about her future. Plans are one thing, executing them is another thing entirely. Emery provides her with the jolt she needs to start living her life. As they travel, we see how they help each other grow by not only showing their support for one another but also forcing the other to question long-held beliefs.
The story is primarily told in Cooper’s point of view but we get to know Emery from his diary entries and this I am glad about. The book would have been weaker if all his secrets were only revealed in the latter stages of the book.
This is not an easy book to read but it’s one well worth the time, and yes, the tears, to do so.
A road trip that ends up being a trip to self discovery (and lasting romance) - as far as summaries go, that could work for a dozen books and movies we're all familiar with, but this is no When Harry Met Sally... This is a beautiful tale of two damaged souls taking an unplanned journey together despite travelling on two very different paths. It's a gentle reminder that not all struggles are physical or material, that so many of us have to fight our way out of crushing darkness to even feel worthy of hope and happiness. I've read and enjoyed all of Kandi Steiner's books to date, but this has given me an entirely new appreciation for this author. Wonderful character development and truly touching story.
I’m one of those people that felt everything Emery felt, and despite not going through anything Cooper went through, I could feel her too. That’s the mark of a good author. When you don’t just read the words on the page but feel them, have them resonate and leave a mark on you long after you’ve finished the story. This is one of those and I loved it. I’ll look forward to reading more from this author.