As a librarian, I look at a lot of upcoming releases to figure out what books I should purchase to add to our collection. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember which books I’ve looked at and wanted to read for myself, but I luckily saw this during my last trip to the library and checked it out!
Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance.
Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.
Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?
I honestly thought this book would be just okay. Nothing against the summary or the author, but I thought this would be a rollercoaster of cliches. But once I actually started reading (sound judgements are kind of easier to make once you actually do that!) I found that the book was really well-written and original.
I loved the idea of the modern day nomad. The author did a great job emphasizing the effect of living in a small RV, showing how it both brings the family together and can drive them apart. Despite being marketed as such, I found that there weren’t many actual traveling parts of the book, so if you’re looking for a play-by-play of road trip destinations, this isn’t the book for you. However, like I mentioned before, the effects of living as a nomad really help drive our MC’s character development and help establish the other characters’ personalities.
Dessa is a very likeable character. I think many readers will be able to relate to her and her internal struggles. It was really fun to see her grow and create her own path throughout the book. This is a great book for teenagers who are trying to find out where they belong in the world, and it’s a good reminder to everyone else to be open-minded and that new possibilities are always around the corner if you look.
The friendships in this book are very strong and interesting, especially the friendship between Taryn and Dessa. They met under very unique circumstances (shh, no spoilers) but were able to quickly form a tight bond. Taryn is a fun character who symbolizes what I think we all want to be more like: carefree, spontaneous, brave, and strong. She ushers in some spice to the plot and helps push Dessa into some character development.
And of course, the romance. Cy and Dessa have been traveling together since they were children. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say that they stray away from the “just friends” area and into some new territory (come on guys, it’s a YA book and we all saw it coming.) Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of this relationship until the very end. It isn’t anything bad about Cyrus, but I just really liked Dessa’s story without the romance aspect. Working through her future and learning to live in the present was a great storyline and I thought the romance was placed awkwardly in there just to have that extra aspect to the story.
Your Destination is on the Left by Lauren Spieller is a good coming-of-age story about a young woman trying to find where she belongs in life when her future doesn’t go toward the “usual” direction. There are a lot of well-written characters and a lot of relatable conflicts throughout the book. I would definitely recommend this for teenagers about to leave high school as well as adults who need to be reminded to stop and enjoy life.
While I was reading, I was reminded of two books:
- The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (4/5 stars)
This book has a few similar features to Your Destination is on the Left, including the artsy main character, the unexpected yet strong friendships, finding your own path, and the summer internship. The book is relatively short and sweet.
2. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (4/5 stars)
This book is also very similar to Your Destination is on the Left because of the artsy main character who doubts her talent, the determination to accomplish your goal, and the best-friend-turned-love-interest subplot. It is definitely a YA contemporary romance but is a light summer read perfect for the beach.