Book Review: The Road Trip

Beth O’Leary

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

published: 29th April 2021
spoilers? no


Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in the north of Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with three hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…

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

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: alcohol abuse, drug use, attempted rape, emotional abuse

The Road Trip is basically pure chaos in book form. You realise this from about the first chapter when you work out just who is on the eponymous road trip and from then on, the present day story is a complete ride. There is, of course, also heavier parts to the story. But for all that it does get heavy at times, there’s always a good balance between when it gets serious and when it’s humorous. And the parts which are more serious aren’t brushed aside (although I would say that forgiveness maybe felt a little easy? Two years on and all, but still).

The novel follows Addie and Dylan, exes who end up in the same car — cramped in there along with Addie’s sister, Dylan’s best(?) mate, and a random other guest — on the way to their mutual friend’s wedding. The road trip comes two years after Addie and Dylan’s breakup and is the first time they’ve seen each other since. The book alternates between the present day road trip and the course of their relationship in the past.

What I loved most about this book — besides its chaotic nature — was that it’s a book about second chances, but also about where you draw the line at giving them. It was about Addie giving Dylan a second chance, Dylan giving Marcus one, but also Dylan deciding to stop giving further chances to his father. And I loved the fact that people did the work for those second chances, they weren’t just handed out. They put the work in — apart from one another — and the road trip was a big, albeit coincidental, chance for another go.

I think this book also very successfully wove together the past relationship between Addie and Dylan with the present. The way they clicked from the start was obvious on page, but you could also see that maybe the relationship as it was, in their early 20s, wouldn’t work out, regardless of how the end actually came about. And you see how they had changed in the present narrative. It also did quite well at navigating the thorny issue of can Addie forgive Dylan for their breakup (in my mind, that was probably only solved by the fact that Addie hadn’t told Dylan what happened, not until they met again). I think that tied back into the fact that maybe it was, at that point, a case of right people, wrong time, so I think it was making you still root for them in the present was done very well. (If that makes any sense, since grammar is lost on me right now.)

On the whole, then, I’d say this is a book I enjoyed immensely, probably even more so than The Flat Share (the only other Beth O’Leary book I’ve read so far). It’s definitely a book that makes me want to go back and catch up on her other releases.

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