Hardcover, 278 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.
Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.
Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.
Let it be known that I am not one for realistic fiction unless it’s Australian in which case I am quite keen on it. Let it also be known that I, when I do read North American realistic fiction, I tend to be superpicky and critical about certain things because that’s who I am and that’s what I do.
That said and before I move into the review proper, let’s discuss the hype that has been surrounding this book. Okay, I don’t know when this review will be posted but it has been topping everyone’s charts after its release date. People are lost for words, amazed beyond what they thought was possible and penning panegyrics or odes to the book and its author. Let’s just say that everyone, their mother and their aunties have loved this. This is the main reason it caught my attention and piqued my curiousity. I mean, if that many people are talking about it, buzzing about it, then surely there must be something to it. Yeah?
Well, it couldn’t hurt to take a look.
So I started reading it, fully prepared to be blown away by the genius. It didn’t happen.
I waited for quite a bit but the book ended and I was still waiting. I mean, it’s not bad at all. It just didn’t live up to the hype. There are cool things about it, of course, like the Mary Oliver quote and the exploration (as befits the age of the protagonists) of life and all its meanings. I didn’t like Parker Frost. I thought she had her good points but the main vibe I got from her was of an entitled teenager who believes the world should lay itself at her feet. I liked the best friend a lot better but as is the case in many other YA novels, this protagonist doesn’t treat her best friend very well. I didn’t understand why the love interest kept on being the love interest because this girl is beyond mean to him. He must be masochistic.
Also, how long does it take her to read a journal? This may just be problems in logistics but it bothered the heck out of me. This girl reads an entry per class period and I am certain that a class period lasts for an hour and it took me about 2 minutes to read the same entry while her friend reads the entire journal in one class period and Parker’s supposed to be the brainy one. Hrm.
Also, I don’t understand why she cares so much about these people. Truth is, no matter how much she idolized or idealized them, they were strangers and staying back to look at the river and acting as though she has a personal stake in everything felt pretentious to me. Also, not telling anyone what she discovered is beyond ethical and the ending left a bitter taste in my mouth. ALSO, her explaining what a “gap year” is to her teacher who is almost certainly a college graduate is again condescending. ALSO giving up a scholarship for such a stupid reason is…well, you get the gist of my thoughts.
Maybe it is because my ability to stand first world bullshit is low. Maybe it is because my experiences shaped my reactions to certain topics. There are so many reasons this book was not for me. Majority of the peoples seem to love it though so you may too. If you want my opinion, I’d say read some Melina Marchetta, Vicki Wakefield, Hannah Harrington instead.