Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 6, 2021
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Bantering Books Rating:
The Breakfast Club meets The Silver Linings Playbook in this powerful, provocative, and heartfelt novel about twelve endearing strangers who come together to make the most of their final days, from New York Times bestselling and award-winning author J. Michael Straczynski.
Mark Antonelli, a failed young writer looking down the barrel at thirty, is planning a cross-country road trip. He buys a beat-up old tour bus. He hires a young army vet to drive it. He puts out an ad for others to join him along the way. But this will be a road trip like no other: His passengers are all fellow disheartened souls who have decided that this will be their final journey—upon arrival in San Francisco, they will find a cliff with an amazing view of the ocean at sunset, hit the gas, and drive out of this world.
The unlikely companions include a young woman with a chronic pain sensory disorder and another who was relentlessly bullied at school for her size; a bipolar, party-loving neo-hippie; a gentle coder with a literal hole in his heart and blue skin; and a poet dreaming of a better world beyond this one. We get to know them through access to their texts, emails, voicemails, and the daily journal entries they write as the price of admission for this trip.
By turns tragic, funny, quirky, charming, and deeply moving, Together We Will Go explores the decisions that brings these characters together, and the relationships that grow between them, with some discovering love and affection for the first time. But as they cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this is a novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it. The final, unforgettable moments as they hurtle toward the decisions awaiting them will be remembered for a lifetime.
Bantering Books Review
Together We Will Go caught me off guard. It’s a bit sunnier than I expected it to be. Not as heavy.
I mean, a story about 12 strangers on a bus, road-tripping across the country together for the sole purpose of driving straight off the edge of a cliff?!?! That’s dark, right?
In the capable hands of J. Michael Straczynski, though, it’s not. Or rather, it’s not as dark as it could be.
Written in an epistolary style that includes audio transcripts, text messages, and emails, Together We Will Go is, first and foremost, a contemplative examination of suicide. It fearlessly explores the topic, without judgment or bias, delineating the many personal reasons for taking one’s own life.
And it does so with a boatload of brash humor, friendship, and love.
The novel is laugh-out-loud funny – especially the first half. And through this curtain of humor we feel a brightness. We sense a lightness, a hopefulness. We see supportive, loving friendships grow. And this is what protects us from despair as the story takes a far more sobering turn in the second act.
Things get REAL – real fast. And as much as it is startling and emotionally conflictive to observe, it’s also realistic.
I do wish, however, that Straczynski’s writing had plunged more deeply into the souls of the characters. The novel’s epistolary format is somewhat hindersome in this regard, what with the narrative being nearly all dialogue. And while this structure may allow for some memorable one-liners, it doesn’t give much room for complex personality development and voice distinction.
But absolutely read Together We Will Go. It’s thought-provoking, immensely entertaining, and well worth your time.
This was an insightful buddy read with my dear friend, Catherine Woodward. You should check out her lovely review on Goodreads, too.
Together We Will Go publishes July 6th, 2021.
My sincerest appreciation to J. Michael Straczynski, Gallery/Scout Press, and Edelweiss+ for the Advance Review Copy. All opinions included herein are my own.