cover image Four for the Road

Four for the Road

K.J. Reilly. Atheneum, $19.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-665902-28-1

Struggling to process his mother’s death, New Jersey teenager Asher Hunting embarks on a revenge quest in this riveting road trip epic by Reilly (Words We Don’t Say). Asher has been attending a grief support group ever since his mother was killed by a drunk driver “twelve months three weeks one day six hours and fourteen minutes ago.” There, he meets fellow teens dry-witted Will and motorcycle-loving Sloane, as well as elderly, cantankerous Henry, and asks them to accompany him on a road trip to Graceland. Each of them has their own reason for going, but Asher doesn’t tell them what sparked this excursion: he’s considering killing his mother’s murderer (“Which way would be better, the slow way or the fast way or no way at all?”). As Asher uncovers more about the accident, he’ll have to weigh the price of catharsis, and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Reilly uses empathetic prose, and Asher’s by turns biting and achingly earnest voice (“Everyone wants to pretend that somehow this will all be okay if we just go to therapy and eat cookies and disappear until we’re better”), to expertly portray the white-cued group’s journey through individual and shared grief. Ages 14–up. Agent: Molly O’Neill, Root Literary. (Aug.)