A review by Danielle.
Fresh out of high school, Angie, a headstrong, fiercely independent teen from Minnesota, struggles with self-discovery. Not sure who she is, what she wants to do with her life, or what kind of person she wants to become, she decides to take a cross-country road trip in hopes of finding some clues that will point her in the direction of adulthood.
This story is set fourteen years ago, nine months after the twin towers fell, and before GPS, iPhones, Facebook and mass media communication, when the internet was just beginning to gather steam; back when being on the open road by yourself truly meant you were utterly alone, unless you happened upon a pay phone. Angie travels the country, staying with acquaintances she meets on a virtual writing forum. Dead set on finding some sort of understanding of the woman she wants to grow into one day and armed with nothing but road supplies, one can of mace, a knife and her unshaking faith and trust in God, Angie sets out on the journey of a lifetime. She is not even close to being ready for the struggles, lessons and unexpected joys she finds along the way.
Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela Blout starts out very slowly, taking it’s time to reveal the main theme and Angie’s character. Between Angie’s religious judgment and the tired description of a female protagonist who’s gorgeous but doesn’t know it, I struggled at first to really get into the book. None of her peers saw her beauty, but magically, when you introduce a slew of new male characters, they all fall deeply in love with her. I get it, women relate to those insecurities and general feelings of being overlooked for a lifetime, and thoroughly enjoy being able to project themselves into the main character for all those warm fuzzy feelings when that special guy finally does notice, but it’s overused and tiresome. That being said, there are a few dark and twisted moments I was not expecting that really add depth to the story and some important life lessons I think all women should be aware of.
The author does an excellent job of vividly describing both destinations and the overall collective atmosphere of this particular time in history. I recognized it easily having been a teenager myself when the terrorist attacks on 9/11 rocked our nation, but it was truly eye-opening to view it through an adult point of view. The ending, however, I felt was a bit lackluster. After such a strong opening about this story being about self-discovery, I don’t feel that Angie gained any real insight of herself. While she did learn an important lesson in accepting disappointment, the reader is still left feeling a bit let down. There is a second installment though and I will keep my fingers crossed for Angie as she learns to navigate the real world and her first love at the same time.
Rating: 3/5 stars.
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