Release Date ~ June 10, 2014
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) ~ Raincoast Books
ARC received from Raincoast Books to review
A funny, uplifting debut about running, romance—and dealing with college rejection and other hurdles
On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges—including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love—and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined.
On the Road to Find Out involves a main character who has received some devastating news and it depicts the story of how she comes to terms with life when it doesn't go the way she planned it. It's an important lesson, but this book lacked the emotional depth I anticipated.
- Alice is startlingly real:
We all know someone like Alice. Many of us (me included) likely share traits and experiences in common with her. She's fairly self-absorbed at times (aren't we all?), spoiled, and introverted. On the Road to Find Out chronicles a crisis period in Alice's life, a period of time where we get to see her grow up. She learns that life won't always go the way she plans, which is so true and a key life lesson for everyone.
- A heartwarming running community:
Alice doesn't intentionally join the running community, instead she halfheartedly stumbles into it. She finds a supportive, strong group of people among the local runners including friendly, warm Joan (who has her own remarkable story to share) and a competitive, cute athlete named Miles.
I know there are going to be some readers who are bothered by Alice and won't enjoy the book for that reason. But it is beneficial for us to read about flawed characters, for many reasons. An important reason is because we are flawed ourselves, even if we don't care to admit it. Additionally it is important because there are certain stories that are best told with a flawed character. Alice's growth in this book wouldn't be half as remarkable if she was easy to like and mature from the get-go.
In some ways, this book was not as fully developed as I would have liked. Alice's voice and sense of humour seemed distant at times, and by that I mean that it seemed she wasn't taking her own situation seriously. Her attitude towards this set-back was exaggerated and lacked the sincerity I would have expected from someone in her situation. Alice also has a very sarcastic, cynical attitude which really comes out in her sense of humour. I can see how only certain readers might be able to appreciate that aspect of her character and enjoy reading about it.
On the Road to Find Out is an enjoyable little story, with a very important lesson behind it which I believe is particularly relevant to teenagers and young adults.