Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural 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 four-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?
I largely read The Road Trip in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed the escapism it provided. O’Leary offers something new with The Road Trip; alternating timelines featuring flawed characters with their tense dynamics resulting in an edgy and engaging tone.
The Road Trip explores the reality of new relationships – the happiness, lust and joy – between two people, and then familial and friend group integrations, which brings disapproval. I honestly can’t put into words how horrifying it was to see the manipulation and actions of sabotage to ruin Addie and Dylan’s relationship.
As for Addie and Dylan themselves, I’m actually stumped as to how to describe them, because I don’t feel like I got to know them deeply. Or rather, I feel I only largely know them through what one thought of the other. Dylan thought Addie was perfect and sexy, and Addie thought Dylan was adorable. Out of them both I feel Dylan was the most and best established, as his insecurities and childhood contributed to a lot of his character flaws, but I’d still of liked more depth to be explored for he and Addie. The side characters, like Addie’s sister Deb and Dylan’s best friend Marcus, were well utilised and provided comedy or uncontrollable fury throughout, helping progress the story along.
The alternating timeline goes between “now” and “then”, allowing the reader to see how Addie and Dylan met, fell in love and fell apart (then) and the journey of seeing whether people can change and if they can find each other again (now). And when I reached the climax of the book – when the past and present collided – I was in tears. I just can’t express the heartache I had for Addie. And I don’t think I’d of been satisfied with any other ending.
The whole tone felt more melancholic than lighthearted. One minute it’s laughter and goofiness, and then tension, and then a heartfelt and raw atmosphere. I definitely feel it’s the most complex story O’Leary’s offered to date and further demonstrates her capability as a writer in this genre. It’s as salacious as many romances out there, and at times, reminded me of Sally Rooney’s Normal People.
The Road Trip is a story about healing, self discovery and raises the questions of whether people can find their way back together again. It’s a little different to The Flatshare and The Switch, but the The Road Trip offers a rollercoaster summery-trip-vibes adventure I’d say is not to be missed.