Author: Rachel Toor
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Source: publishers for review
A funny, uplifting debut about running, romance—and dealing with college rejection and other hurdles.
On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges—including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love—and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined.
Fun and a little saccharine at times, On the Road to Find Out is a great fluff book that can entertain its audience for a few hours. I was mostly engaged while reading this, but on the whole, it was just a ...whelming kind of contemporary narrative for me. Rachel Toor's novel can feel a bit predictable and bland when it comes to plot and characters respectively, but it's got good bones and a few individual quirks (like.. Walter). It won't make any lasting impressions, but it's the perfect airplane or waiting room read.
My issue lies with connecting to the main character and narrator, Alice. It wasn't that she was a bad character or characterized poorly, but she was one that didn't speak to me personally. She felt, and read, quite immature and young for her age. She's supposed to be a senior and seventeen, nearly an adult, but her petty and unceasing comparisons make her feel much younger. I much preferred the end of the book version of Alice, and I think that speaks to the growth she exhibits over the course of the novel.
I also liked that Alice wanted to better herself through a unique means. That she took a rejection and funneled that into something constructive rather than destructive was a fresh idea for the plot. I wasn't that into the technical aspects of her hobby, but you can't fault Toor for the accuracy or details. For the right kind of reader, this will be a big hit. Maybe Miranda Kinneallty fans will find another sports-infused YA to love with On the Road to Find Out's balance of growing up and competitive romance.