Tuesday, August 23, 2016

To Get To You, by Joanne Bischof

Something about this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go ever since I saw the cover and synopsis.

I don't know what it was. It was just the square, sure knowledge that I needed to read it, and it was one I might fall in love with.

On National Book Lover's Day, I treated myself to a Kindle copy.

And I did fall in love with it.

The Book [from Goodreads]
To get to the girl he loves, Riley Kane must head off on a road trip with the father he never knew. Then pray for a miracle.

Most teens would love to have a pro surfer for a dad. Just not Riley. Abandoned as a kid, he hates the sound of the ocean and the man who gave himself to it.

When the eighteen-year-old learns that his best friend is stranded at a New Mexico hospital as her father fights for his life, Riley hits the highway to head east. But when his Jeep breaks down before he even leaves California, he must rely on the one man he despises to get to the girl who needs him the most. And when it comes to the surfer with the Volkswagen van and dog-eared map, a thousand miles may–or may not–be enough to heal the past.

A story of new beginnings and second chances.

My Thoughts 
If I could pin down my favorite element of fiction books ever, it's male camaraderie. Any book that has a decent amount of close friendship between guys is one I'm likely to love and read again. Fortunately I'm not the only author who likes this element. While To Get To You sounds like a romance, it actually spends most of the novel on Riley's trip with his dad, Jake. The romance is a catalyst to throwing Riley and his dad together for the real plot of facing each other and what they've become. Along the way, there's tons of good guy interaction between Jake and his best friend, Saul.

Probably To Get To You is so appealing to me because it's something I'd like to write. Throw together vivid characters, some angst, some comic relief, warm fuzzy moments, and an intense authorial pleasure in the little moments of life, and you've got a delicious literary smoothie of delights for any bookworm. To Get To You has all that. It's a book you want to read by the beach, or on summer vacation, one that you put down with a sigh of content.

I read it while I was supposed to be cleaning for company.

tsk, tsk, schuyler 

I really liked the way Bischof handled Riley's character arc. Probably some authors would start with him at the lowest possible point and cram too much character transformation into the story, making it hard to believe, and therefore, less satisfying. Bischof doesn't do that. Riley has a broken past, but he's found some good mentors and taken some upward steps before the story begins. Bischof shows us a manageable and believable chunk of another step in his life, as he fights between anger and grace, withdrawal and reaching out. Plus, the angst doesn't drive the story every moment. There are normal moments between him and Jake and Saul, where they're just regular people on a road trip together. The cadence of this book in plot and characterization development is very pleasing--relaxing, but never boring or dragging.

One really cute thing about it--and one I liked--was that Riley's love interest is a homeschool girl. Her parents are involved with him and what's going on, and it's a pretty good portrayal of what homeschoolers are like. I love the fact that an unlikely couple is matched up. Probably because again, when I write, I like to take an outcast like Riley and give them dignity and love. The only complaint I have about the story is that most homeschooler parents of Becca's type probably wouldn't allow the amount of physical affection they did (though it still had extremely conservative boundaries) and one scene broke my suspension of believe because of that. I would probably recommend this book for late teens and early twenties due to the romance and elements of Jake and Riley's lifestyle that are better for more mature readers.

To Get To You was a great book to read when I needed some very gentle soul care. I love remembering it. It was a chance well worth taking, and I'll be on the lookout for more Joanne Bischof novels.

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