Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Whole Way Home by Sarah Creech + a Giveaway

When I was a teen, one of my favorite movies was a movie called The Thing Called Love. It starred Samantha Mathis, Sandra Bullock, River Phoenix, and Dermot Mulroney, all trying to make it in the country music scene. At the time, I had little to no interest in country music at all, so that really wasn't my motivation for watching it or the reason I enjoyed it. It was the story, the characters, and the actors that did it for me.

The same can somewhat be said for Sarah Creech's latest, The Whole Way Home.

Jo Lover has made a name for herself as a brilliant young performer in the country industry. A singer known for her big, classic sound, she's made no bones about the fact that she finds the current trend of male driven pop-country focused on trucks and beer distasteful, to say the least. In fact, it's the kind of country music her old band and ex, J. D. Gunn and the the Empty Shells, are known for. 

And then her label signs J. D., pushing the two of them to perform together. 

Jo knows it's a great opportunity, but she's taken great pains to put her past far behind her. She's moved on, she's engaged, she's on the brink of hitting it big. Now, faced with J. D., the secrets she's tried so hard to keep hidden, threaten to ruin everything she's worked for. 

Jo is a big character with lots of heart. She's true to her roots, supporting businesses and artists from the area she comes from, but she wants to keep her past in the past. And it's not just reuniting with J. D. that threatens all of that. A stubborn reporter who rubs Jo the wrong way from the start, is digging into things she definitely doesn't want the public to know.

There are hints about this throughout. First, the way Jo handles questions about her hometown and childhood. Second, how easily she's ruffled by the reporter in the first place. And it is a bit predictable, to be honest, but I found I didn't care. This is what great characters can do - draw you into a story that becomes more than it's tropes.

And while this is, at heart, a bit of a romance, I have to note that the story is bigger than that. Bigger than Jo and J. D. and their past. Bigger even than the revelation about Jo's past. The story is also one of Nashville, the music industry (country in particular, yes), and the hurdles faced by those chasing their dreams. Creech doesn't cower from pointing out the prejudices of the industry, using Jo to illustrate its feelings about women and Alan of the Flyby Boys to illustrate the industry's racism as well. Nor does is she afraid to tackle the tension between old country and new country as a running theme.

I have a bit more appreciation for country music these days than I did as a teen. Bluegrass in particular. But as I inferred above, you don't have to have any interest in country music to fall in love with Creech's latest. And yet, a little country knowledge does add to the richness of the story as a whole.

And if you are a country fan, there's a great Spotify playlist to listen to as you read!

And now for the giveaway! I've got a finished copy to offer up to one of you today. To throw your name in the hat, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, June 26. Open US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kimberly V said...

I enjoyed your review. It has left me really wanting to read the book. Thank you.

rhonda said...

Thanks for review sounds like perfect book for my summer vacation,

traveler said...

Thanks for this captivating feature and giveaway.

Anita Yancey said...

This book sounds amazing. I'm looking forward to reading it.

SavingsInSeconds said...

I like that it has the music angle. That adds to the romance.

lkw1974 said...

Thanks for the chance. How cool