On Their Way centers on the ordinary, but confusing modern-day lives of two close friends in their mid-twenties who find themselves on an unexpected journey to Spain.
Meet Ella – she is perceptive, creative, cerebral, loyal, opinionated, full of dilemmas, and torn between decisions, people, places and life trajectories. Meet Will – he is stubborn, free-spirited, witty, sarcastic, and a writer. The novel offers a glimpse into their lives before, during and after their trip.
As the story unfolds we follow how they change, what they resolve, and how they handle the consequences of their choices. It is a story about friendship, finding meanings, self discovery and moving on. The characters search for understanding, take new chances and realize that you cannot await happiness but have to step into the unknown.
I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
“Writing comes and goes, like moments, days, people, and liquor.”On Their Way, A.D. Green
Books that contain writers as main characters have a special place in my heart. I can identify with their outlooks on life, and their love and appreciation of books and poetry in a way that only a writer and true reader can understand. In On Their Way, Will is that character and he’s very good. Which makes me sad that he wasn’t in the book as much as I thought he would be.
Both the title and the synopsis implied, to me, that there are at least two main characters. But in reading On Their Way, we really only travel and spend time with Ella. Will disappears (which I found very strange, even at the end of the book) on multiple occasions and we really spend the majority of our time with Ella. In fact, there’s more scenes with Ella and her Spanish fling than there is of her and her best friend. Will is such a fascinating character to me and even though he was struggling with his own self identity, we didn’t get to see any of it. Sure we saw the results of his struggles at the end, but I wanted to know what he was doing and how Barcelona was helping HIM to heal, not just Ella. So I feel that a lot of opportunity was missed with Will as a character.
Barcelona is very high on my travel list, probably because of books like this one, so to say that the setting was utterly breathtaking and perfect, is a large understatement. I loved the details, the beauty, the culture, and the characters that were met there. However, I would have loved to see more. Because of Ella’s tendency to stick to the things she knew, rather than trying new things, we had very little introduction to her senses and the culture around her. Rather, we were sort of stuck in her head with her thoughts, which was brilliant enough, in a philosophical way, but I feel as if we missed out on the full experience as to what she was seeing in the architect and scenery of the pictures she took, what the fabrics felt like in her room, what food tasted like in the new restaurants she tried, and what the sounds were around her as she roamed the streets and beaches. I want to travel WITH the characters, and my imagination can only do so much for a place I’ve never been.
The romance. Hmm. Why do these female characters who travel to “find themselves” always find themselves on a one-night stand with a dark, mysterious stranger while engaging in philosophical questions and games? Sometimes they stay, other times they don’t, but still, it’s a very common occurrence that I’ve found in this type of literature. So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Ella met the gaze of a sexy bartender, nor was I surprised at how the rest of the scenario played out. Was it done well? Eh, perhaps. Personally, I would have like to see Ella discover her sense of self-worth without taking a mysterious stranger to bed, but everyone has different preferences I suppose. The romance was kept fairly clean, so nothing steamy aside from descriptions of feelings and the sexual tension that both characters had created in their minds, and the inevitable sex scene was cut before anything happened, so all-in-all, it truly wasn’t that bad. Many readers may like the romance and honestly, my resentment of the love story may just be that it took away from Will’s part in the story. Though you certainly want to brace yourself for a slew of detailed kissing scenes.
So in complete review, I think On Their Way has the potential to be a really great story, but it just fell short of that to me. With one of the main characters hardly present, the too few details of the culture that somehow changed both characters and helped them find themselves, and the very intense focus on a romantic plot that I think overshadowed Ella’s self-discovery (especially in light of the ending), I’m just not that impressed with it. I give it 2 out 5 stars, though I wouldn’t be opposed to reading another book by this author simply because of the potential I see here. With some fine-tuning, I think this is an author that has the potential to be great.