cover image Side Trip

Side Trip

Kerry Lonsdale. Lake Union, $14.95 trade paper (364p) ISBN 978-1-5420-1696-4

Lonsdale’s middling road trip romance (after Everything We Give) revolves around a chance meeting at a diner. Joy Evers, a recent graduate from UCLA, sets out to drive across the country to move in with her fiancé in New York City. Joy also wants to complete a Route 66 bucket list left by her deceased older sister, Judy. On a stop in Ludlow, Calif., Joy meets Dylan Westfield, a “tall drink of water” and touring musician whose name Joy recognizes from Rolling Stone. Dylan, who is prone to car trouble, helps Joy cross off items on Judy’s list in exchange for a ride, however both are made anxious by one to-do: “fall in love.” Lonsdale shuffles Joy and Dylan’s perspectives on the trip as they bond over their love of music, and flashes forward to Joy and Dylan continuing on separate paths and contemplating what-ifs, as the details surrounding Judy’s death slowly come into focus. While the prose and character development leave much to be desired beyond clichés of wanderlust and restlessness, Lonsdale succeeds in holding the reader’s attention through plenty of twists and turns. The low-stakes story makes for a diverting drama. (July)