Across the Way is the newest release from Amy K. McClung. I’ve read some previous works Amy wrote, and I like her style. Of course, knowing she hails from just a few hours south, I know some fairly local geography will usually come into play. (This is not a bad thing. It’s nice to be able to ground a story with familiar territory.)
This story focuses on Marie, who is twenty-five and has finally amassed the correct amount of money that she can fulfill her lifelong dream–which is to tour the entire country via an arduously long and grueling road trip. The amount of money was rather nebulous, but it had to be a rather healthy chunk of change because it involved two years on the road, a brand new car, hotel stays wherever she went, and an entire month in Disney.
Let’s get one thing straight right now… I could not connect with this main character. Because this is not something I could ever do. I just don’t have it in me to do that because, if I’m completely honest, I hate road trips. With a passion. But that was my personal thing–but it kept me at a higher level. It was written in first-person, but unlike the goal of first-person, I could never put myself in the character’s shoes. So I remained an outsider looking in on the story as it unfolded. That’s not really a bad thing, and it’s not like I’m dinging her on it. It’s just something to note about the way I felt the story.
Her first stop was in my neck of the woods and I was so excited to see what the author had in store for Kentucky. Okay, the Corvette Museum, nice choice. Well done. As was the Galt House (that’s where I stay every time I have an overnight in Louisville). But seriously, Fourth Street Live instead of live horse racing? Disappointing. No trips through a distillery? Then the trip didn’t happen. Null and void. Must start over again. (Perhaps I need a job with the Kentucky Tourism Board. Quick, someone contact them.)
The rest of the places Marie went were nice–it was kind of really cool to see some new North American geography and landmarks. What the author felt important to show to me. I’ve never been to Michigan on the lake, or New Orleans, and it’s been years and years since I was in New York, so it was kind of cool to re-live those places, even if it’s through someone else (someone fictional at that… I really need to get out more).
Oh, but wait. There’s romance too! In fact, there is a little bit too much for Marie to handle. There’s the guy she met along the way who is rather swoon-worthy. Then there’s the guy who has always been there. The underlying current throughout the entire book is her mental battle of ping pong over which guy she wants. We don’t find out until the end, and I will say I was rather happy with the result. I was Team ***** all the way. (Ha, you think I’m telling you? Nope. You get to go on the mental back-and-forth with Marie to find out.)
I did find a couple inconsistencies in it, but none of them were big enough to make me turn off the Kindle and walk away screaming. (I’m intensely picky and have been known to put books down for the most mundane reasons, so that’s really saying a lot.)
My biggest gripe was mostly that Marie meets some interesting characters, especially in the beginning. The old man in the dinner, Sami and Kat–and once Marie puts their town in her rearview miror, we never hear from them again, even though Marie swore she’d stay in touch. I would have loved to have seen a FaceTime with Kat and Sami after they got engaged, or something. Just to bring them full circle and keep them in her life.
All in all, it was a fun trip to go on–and reading this gave me the opportunity to do this trip in a matter of hours instead of spending years on the road, staring at the lines on the road until they blurred and the black dog appeared.
Pick it up. Travel the country. Fall in love.