Review of Four for the Road

Four for the RoadFour for the Road
by K. J. Reilly
High School    Atheneum    288 pp.
8/22    9781665902281    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781665902311    $10.99

In this at once funny and moving novel, it’s been just over a year since seventeen-year-old Asher’s mom died in a car accident, and “everyone says that I’m not handling it well.” In addition to his withdrawn and distracted behavior, Asher is catfishing Grace, the teen daughter of the drunk driver responsible for the accident. He’s agreed to take Grace to her prom, though he lives in New Jersey and she’s in Memphis. He embarks on a road trip with acquaintances from his bereavement groups: teens Will and Sloane, grieving the losses of their brother and father, respectively, from cancer; and Henry, a delightful octogenarian who dotes on the box containing his wife’s ashes. The others don’t know the real reason Asher is on this trip: he has a (vague) plan to get revenge on Grace’s father. Reilly doesn’t hold back from depicting the all-encompassing nature of Asher’s grief: his guilt, loneliness, and rage are raw and intense, bringing him to the brink of what his therapist calls “self-destruct sad.” But with his new support system, “I’m one small step closer to somewhere better than where I’ve been.” The intergenerational friendship with Henry adds to the humor; a philosophical connection with Will provides depth; and a blossoming romance with Sloane brings sweetness to Asher’s difficult, deserved path toward healing.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Rachel L. Kerns

Rachel L. Kerns is a project manager for an educational publisher. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College.

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