The Way Back to You is essentially about losing someone close and the grieving process. To go a bit deeper, it’s about how to heal from loss—how to heal through all the pain and intense feelings and how to find joy again after such a painful ordeal.
It’s a very heartbreaking and emotional read, but it’s filled with humor and witty dialogue, along with a weird yet sweet road-trip that’s laced with quirky surprises and a cute romance. Not many books make me laugh and cry at the same time, but this one did and I loved it!
The Blurb: Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.
Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.
Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cared about.
As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out of character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they meet the recipients–the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death–the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.
With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way back to her . . . and to each other.
One of my favorite this about this book was the relatability in terms of loss and grief. Many people have dealt with loss, especially when it comes to losing someone very close like a relative or a friend and everyone deals with that loss differently. Some people act out viciously or partake in dangerous behaviors like drugs or drinking. Others keep everything bottled up—never letting themselves feel or move on. No one grieves in the exact same manner, but ultimately we all do grieve.
The emotional journey that the main characters, Cloudy and Kyle, go through during this book was very realistic and raw. Right off the bat, I related to both characters, even though they both grieved differently. My connection to them was strong because I went through similar emotions when I lost my grandma. For example, Kyle, in the beginning, tries to force himself to act normal, even though he’s not sure how to or if he even can. I found that so relatable because that’s what I did and I think a lot of people do that. Some people try to act normal after loss, thinking that it’ll help them grieve and move on faster, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can’t act normal and that’s okay—or sometimes you can and that’s okay too.
Cloudy’s journey dealt with trying to better and heal herself without going through the heavy emotions—basically keeping everything bottled up. She kept thinking this method was working and that she was healing, and it took her almost to the very end to realize that bottling up emotions isn’t always the best way. We have to feel and know that it’s okay to cry yourself silly and to feel every intense or negative emotion because that’s how some people move pass things.
When it comes to losing someone close, it’s sometimes hard to find your footing—to regain that balance you once had when they were around. You might’ve had future plans or goals with them, but now that they’re gone, you’re not sure what to do. You sometimes feel lost and unsure or even feel bad. Sometimes when you think of them, all these bad memories bombard you—even though you had more good ones—and that makes you feel guilty, like you might’ve been a sucky friend to that person while they were alive. It can make you second-guess everything.
All of these thoughts and ideas went through either Cloudy and Kyle’s head throughout the book at one point or another and I could totally relate to all of it!
It was so liberating and eye-opening to know that many people go through the same thing. We all grieve in different ways but essentially we all grieve—all of our emotions and feelings are similar. The grieving process has no rules, but it’s something we all do or must do to help us move on and heal. I think this is something that bonds us as humans. Yes, we’re all from different makeups and races or cultures, but grief is something that we have in common that can sort of link us together or give us something to relate to in one another.
Another thing I loved about this book was the characters—main and secondary. Everyone was endearing and charming and unique in their own quirky way. The book is told from the dual-POV of both Cloudy and Kyle and I loved being in both of their heads. I loved Cloudy’s sass and her dialogue and inner thoughts had me laughing-out-loud so many times!
Kyle was very sweet and I loved that he wasn’t afraid to cry. In society, it’s sometimes said that men shouldn’t show emotions, but I disagree and I loved that Kyle did. He wasn’t afraid to feel things and sob, even when he didn’t even understand why he was.
The chemistry between Kyle and Cloudy was off the charts! Literally. Seriously, I was rooting for them from the beginning. I didn’t care that Kyle was Cloudy’s BFF boyfriend before she died and that Cloudy is Kyle’s cousin’s ex. It’s weird haha, but it works!
The only bad thing I could see is that in the middle of the book when they take a break from finding people on the list, the pacing slows a bit, but overall, I loved this book! I’m always up for a road-trip book and this one was so good! You’ll enjoy this, especially if you’ve lost someone close because you’ll find yourself relating to Kyle or Cloudy or both like I did, in ways you can’t even imagine. Highly recommended!