The Long Road Home by Tawni Waters

61cFNUSy75L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Review first appeared in School Library Journal, August 2017.

Gr 9 & Up – Harley, born Juliet to an actress and still reeling from the recent loss of her mother in a fire, embarks on a road trip to bring her mother’s ashes home to New York. Since the fire, Harley, who feels at fault for leaving a candle burn, has been living with her mother’s best friend, Mercy, in Los Angeles. Her father hasn’t been involved in her life for a very long time. Harley plans to take the trip on her mother’s beloved motorcycle. Harley tries to cope with PTSD, guilt, loss, and depression with drinking, but then her period is late and worry and fear are added to her already overflowing emotional plate. Mercy agrees to let Harley go because Dean, her one friend, crush, and unaware father of her baby is going along. Waters’ contemporary YA story plot is much like Harley’s bike trip – a long, and at times painful road ahead with good and bad stops along the way. Written in first person as a letter, the recipient will not be revealed until the final pages. Recommended for high school and up due to explicit language, drug and alcohol references, and not-so-subtle sexual content. During the detours along the way, including a major scare near the end, Harley learns that once she accepts her circumstances in life, home may have been with her all along. VERDICT: For general purchase, this realistic fictional tale of unplanned teenage pregnancy and the meaning of home will have readers rooting for the down-on-her-luck protagonist and her geeky, irresistible suitor.

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