THE SCENIC ROUTE
Trade Paperback and e-book
Penguin/NAL June 3, 2014Adult
Print book provided by publisher for fair review. No remuneration exchanged, and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
The shortest distance between soul mates isn’t always a straight line….
When Austin Gittleman first met Naomi Bloom, they were grammar school classmates and she pasted pictures of him in her Barbie Dreamhouse. Those days are long gone.
Austin is a Midwestern doctor who always tries to do the right thing—even if it often turns out wrong. Naomi is a Miami pastry chef with a taste for adventure. They seem to have nothing in common. But that doesn’t stop Austin from falling head over heels when they reconnect at a mutual friend’s seaside wedding.
Only, falling hard doesn’t guarantee happily ever after, or even a second date. Tropical storms and mechanical malfunctions contribute to a series of miscommunications and missed connections that lead Austin and Naomi away from each other and back again.
In The Scenic Route, life is what happens on the way to where you’re going. It’s unpredictable and inconvenient, but it can be pretty wonderful when you bring the right person along for the ride. Penguin.com
Is life about the journey? Is a life about the destination; goals you have set or a destiny? Can you take a wrong turn? I didn’t hate this book, but neither did I like it.
Mostly, I just felt ambivalent. At first I was amused because Austin is in California and has a hugely horrid travel experience into Los Angeles. Losing one’s luggage on the way to an event is awful. Then meeting up with someone who you don’t remember knowing is the story of my high school reunion. So, I could relate. It never felt like a romantic comedy, more like an angsty, unromantic exploration of the failing dreams of thirty somethings; their hard hitting losses and harder relationships.
I just couldn’t get into the self-absorbed and unnecessarily dramatic lives of the characters. One phone call, or responding to an email, is a remarkably simple way to end your questions and doubts if they are ruling and ruining your life. No? Maybe I am older and wiser than thirty somethings, but I still screw up – difference is I know it is not interesting enough to write a book about.
I wanted to call this review “The Unbearable Heaviness of Being” because all of the characters live within their own spheres of misery where their self absorption and failure to be with, to take a chance on, the person they claim to love hurts themselves and others. Yes, by avoiding hurt they cause hurt.
Perhaps that is the author’s message. But the whole trip was a long ride in a small car with a lot of baggage. Ugh. Now some folks like books that explore characters in this way so if you are into character exploring this might be workable for you. But, I found most of the characters unrealistic, and except for a couple of “true” emotional exchanges, I found a lot of the descriptions and information lead nowhere and just felt blah. These are people with a serious need for meds or intensive psychotherapy. Maybe I just don’t like when people have clouds over their heads or always seem to be victimized when they could change it. But when she does take action to change her life she gets a major slap down to prove the point that you should just stay stuck and live the hand you were dealt.
If I felt enough connection between the characters I might have had a different response but the characters feel like they are all wearing chain-mail condoms against life and hurt and as such never connect. There’s no connection shown in the friendships, or love relationships between the characters — all that is part of the past or they meet and are too quickly in a simulacrum of a love relationship: living together, marriage, engagement. But no one is really engaged.
It just simply did not work for me. If there’s going to be bad feelings, I need to feel why. And then if there is love I need to feel the shift. The characters are too individually examined but never connect. It was a solid “meh.”