By Kirsten Bloomberg Feldman
Here's the thing I love about YA books: I love that I can read a story that isn't difficult, that keeps me engaged without me having to really work for it, and that tells a story that's geared toward the kinds of issues that we've all gone through, no matter how many years ago it happened. Even when I can't relate to what's going on in them I can still kinda relate! It's spectacular, they're the kinds of books that really pull me in and keep me hooked.
On the Way to Everywhere by Kirsten Bloomberg Feldman is exactly all of those things. It tells the story of a girl, Harry, and yes, we know you're giving her That Look about the name, who doesn't feel like she fits in at all. She's faced with all the typical issues that a not-so-popular girl in high school is handed, but it's all in addition to the very particular sort of madness that comes with having a family who's completely bonkers. Her mother is a prim and prissy dancer, obsessed with youth and fitness, and her father is the disconnected Head of her private school. Throw in a half-brother on one side and a perfectly terrible half-sister on the other, a best friend who helps you with math and a drooling, panting sidekick, and what do you get? The perfect recipe for personal growth, that's what!
This book was everything I want out of a YA novel. The cast of quirky characters kept me entertained-- and more than that, it felt inclusive without even trying too hard to be that way. Nothing felt forced upon me in terms of diversity or plot, nor did it feel necessarily predictable, but the reader is given just enough hints to be clued into what Harry's future might hold. She's the kind of girl who wants so badly to escape her own life that she forgets to live it-- that is, until suddenly, she realizes she might be doing it wrong. It's one of those things she has to figure out for herself, and I love characters like that, who are guided into becoming the kind of person we're all rooting for by the fascinating forces around them.
Truthfully, my only complaint was that I felt like the last quarter was a little rushed. But as soon as I thought that I realized that the important parts, the struggles and exposition and movement from Harry as a hardheaded teenager with an attitude problem to a girl who finally recognizes that she cares about her life, were what we all really wanted to learn about in the first place. It's the journey that matters, and Feldman offers a truly captivating road trip for Harry, from beginning to end. If you're a girl who needs a reminder that you can do anything you want as long as you put your mind to it and put the effort into it to achieve it, this is definitely the book for you. It's the kind of thing I'd want my own daughters (and sons!) to read, and that's about the best compliment I can give to a book