Veteran author Simons stumbles in this coming-of-age romance about four Maine teenagers and the European adventure that changes their lives. Chloe Divine has spent half her life dreaming of going to Barcelona with her best friend, Hannah. They finally make the attempt their summer before college, with boyfriends in tow, and tack on a detour to Eastern Europe. The story suffers from characters rife with all the irritating immaturity of their youth while burdened with an implausible middle-aged introspection. It collapses under the weight of overwrought prose: “Reading about Barcelona burst her heart into a flame.” The foursome are insufferable by the time they reach Latvia, a quality that is exacerbated when Johnny Rainbow waltzes into their lives with a guitar on his back and a foreshadowing tremor in his hands. Fortunately, Johnny rescues the story, letting the focus expand to the history and beauty of their setting, where Simons’s strength as a storyteller comes into play. Chloe’s growing passion for Johnny and dread in the face of a clearly doomed romance turns a clunky, irritating slog into an engrossing epic with a too-tidy ending. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015 Release date: 11/01/2015 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.