The Road to You by Harper Bliss is not quite like any other romance I’ve read. She released a ton of books in 2016, some conventional romances and some not, and this book is definitely in the “some not” category.
Katherine and Ali couldn’t be more different. Katherine is serious, studious and driven, while Ali is a laid back, free-spirited musician. After Katherine walks in on Ali doing something inappropriate in college, they each form an opinion of the other that lasts for years as their paths keep crossing. Eventually the hatchet is buried and they become unlikely friends, but can people as different as them ever become more?
Because the book spans almost 20 years, we see Katherine, Ali, and their two best friends Grace and Anna as they grow up from who they are in college, to who they are as established adults. Katherine and Ali never really change who they are at their cores—Katherine is always a serious, motivated person and Ali is always a free spirit—but we see them soften and grow, reshaping until they eventually fit each other.
The Writing Style
If The Road to You were structured like a typical romance, it would start in the last section of the book when Katherine and Ali get to know each other beyond the impressions they’d been carrying since university. Instead, it shows how those impressions were created and then reinforced by their interactions through the years. We see Katherine enter a serious relationship and exit it. Ali goes from making most of her money with her music to taking a job running a children’s music charity, and learning to love stability as she helps kids learn the joy of music. It makes for an unusual reading experience because this IS a romance novel, even if it refuses to behave like one for half of the book, and yet it just works, reminding us that some relationships are years in the making.
Because the book is told in the first person, shifting between the two leads, I was glad that there are two narrators for the book. Emily Beresford narrates everything from Katherine’s perspective and Gabra Zackman narrates Ali’s. I wasn’t totally sure about either narrator at first because I’d never listened to them before, but I’m glad I stuck with the audiobook because it’s truly excellent.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bliss and her storytelling, and The Road to You is no exception. I loved what she did with the relationships in this book, whether it’s between Katherine and Ali or them and their friends, and the growth that all four go through.
The first half felt a little slow in places, although I wonder how much of that was my typical expectations of a romance novel bristling against the unconventional approach of this book.
If you want a romance that steps away from any kind of a formula, I recommend The Road to You. Its fresh take on a popular genre is worth checking out.
Excerpt from The Road to You by Harper Bliss
In a corner of the playground, under an old oak tree, two girls sit next to each other. They are not interacting, just sitting side by side, each minding her own business.
One of them is looking up to the sky, singing a song of her own invention, as she twists one of her dark braids around her finger.
The other one, with short blonde hair, is collecting leaves and acorns, stacking them up neatly in equal piles. “Do you want to play?” she asks.
“What are you playing?” the braided girl counters.
“I’m the shop owner and you’re the customer. You want to buy some acorns and the leaves are money.”
“That’s boring.” She pauses and thinks. “I want to come into your shop and sing a song.”
“No,” the blonde girl replies. “This is not a song shop. You have to buy acorns and pay with money.”
The braided girl looks at her with tilted head, and gets up. “I don’t want to play then,” she says and runs off, singing at the top of her voice.
The blonde girl looks after her for a few seconds, before getting back to her counting of leaves and acorns.
Get This Audiobook On Amazon
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9789881490964
- Publisher: Ladylit Publishing
Harper Bliss Online
Note: I received a free review copy of The Road to You by Harper Bliss. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.