My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.
Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.
Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.
Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.
As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.
With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her…and to each other.
Beware spoilers ahead!
I had heard about this book through GR. I was hesitant about read it. But when I read the sample I was sold. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!
The book begins with Ashlyn’s mother’s note to the organ recipients. We are then taken to the first chapter which is in Cloudy’s point of view. It’s been four months since Ashlyn died in a bike accident. It’s been pretty hard on Cloudy as she was Ashlyn’s best friend. Today her school is having a cheer thing going on. Her little sister Zoe has successfully forced her way into Cloudy’s life by becoming cheer captain. Before getting ready to perform Cloudy turns around to talk to Ashlyn. But then remembers that Ashlyn is dead. She escapes to get water.
She runs into Matty her ex-boyfriend and Kyle’s cousin. The two talk for a bit then Kyle comes. Cloudy says hello to him and he replies then he leaves. Cloudy asks Matty how Kyle has been. Matty replies that Kyle has been alright and that he’ll be making a speech for the baseball tryouts. Once the cheerleaders have done their thing the announcements begin. Much to Cloudy’s surprise Kyle ditches the assembly and Matty makes the announcement.
We are then taken to Kyle’s point of view. Today is Kyle and Ashlyn’s one year anniversary. Had Ashlyn been alive she would’ve found some way to celebrate. But she’s gone and Kyle’s on his own. From all the movies that Kyle has watched the characters go to Church and find some great sign. So far the Church he’s currently sitting in is the fourth Church. Thus far there haven’t been any signs of sorts.
While listening to some music Kyle hears a commotion. Much to his surprise he finds Matty with one of the cheerleaders. Realizing that no such sign has come he, Matty, and the cheerleader leave. Outside they find a kitten in Kyle’s car engine. Said kitten is known for curling up and sleeping in warm car engines. When Kyle gets a good look at the kitten he realizes that the kitten has the same eye color as Ashlyn. Kyle thinks that this the sign he is looking for and takes the kitten to his home.
Zoe and Cloudy’s parents are cruising to Mexico. They were in dire need of a vacation so they decided to take it. For dinner Zoe and Cloudy are going over to Ashlyn’s house where her parents will make them dinner. Cloudy is not looking forward to going. She doesn’t think that she’ll be able to bear it. The inevitable comes and they have dinner with Ashlyn’s family. Ashlyn’s mother mentions that she has been in contact with three of the organ recipients. She also mentions that one of them will be having a wedding but they won’t be able to go.
Cloudy feels likes she’s been suffocated. Ashlyn’s mother mentions that she left something in her husbands office. Cloudy offers to get it wanting more than anything to escape this conversation. She gets the paper Ashlyn’s mother wants. While picking up the paper her hand slips and the computer screen comes to life. The email with the wedding invitation is open. Cloudy decides to print all the emails hoping that they’ll give her some closure.
Back home Cloudy decides to go over to Kyle’s house and show him the emails. She’s hoping that by reading them he’ll be at peace and closer to closure. Zoe catches her and Cloudy explains that she printed the emails in hopes that Kyle would feel better. Zoe mentions that the recipients have probably met each other and that they don’t live far. Cloudy decides to visit them with Kyle.
I honestly did not expect to enjoy it this much! I was predicating a 3 star rating. The book is divided into parts based on where Cloudy and Kyle road trip to. The point of view switches between Cloudy and Kyle and is written in first person.
Kyle has no idea what to do about the fact that Ashlyn’s dead. He doesn’t believe in God so he has a hard time believing people when they that Ashlyn is in a better place. It’s pretty obvious that Kyle’s a mess. At some point he decides to quit baseball because he doesn’t see any point to it. His father and cousin are very supportive of him and do help whenever they can. Despite the support from his family there are times where he misses his mother who ditched him years ago. When he comes across the kitten whom he names Arm (after Ashlyn’s initials) his life starts to improve. Throughout the whole book he starts to open up to Cloudy about Ashlyn. He starts to become more open about everything and is happy in his own skin.
Cloudy is managing to hold up. Only because she bottles up all the pain. Mostly to obtain a perfect reputation so that she can show others that she’s moved on with her life. Anytime any mention of Ashlyn comes up she shuts other people out and switches the subject. When the road trip takes place Cloudy doesn’t tell Kyle the real reason she’s road tripping. She’s quite secretive and she does lie a lot. Unlike Kyle, Cloudy is very guarded and won’t really talk about herself. Throughout the book she grows quite a bit. At some point she decides to work on really moving on with her friends and family. She grows very attached to Arm. And her relationships with her sister Zoe and her friend Jade improve. She also has Matty in her life who is also very supportive.
The journey to see the organ recipients was well done! It was so interesting to read about the journey and the recipients. While they didn’t really do any sight seeing I enjoyed reading about the road trip!
The pain all the characters felt was realistic. The characters were fun to read about and they were realistic. The character development and their relationships was beautiful to read about! I actually liked all the characters.
The romance is slow burn. Cloudy and Kyle do have a bit of history aside from Ashlyn. When they start taking their journey their is a lot of tension between the two of them. Which came from a misunderstanding. Throughout the book they become closer to each other. And do start developing feelings for each other. I liked how their feelings for each other doesn’t happen right away but rather towards the end of the book.
I had only one problem with The Way Back to You. Towards the middle when Cloudy and Kyle took a break I felt that it started to drag a bit. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t take a break but I did start to become bored. Luckily the book starts to pick up again.
Overall this was a really good book! I recommend it to contemporary fans.