Saturday, October 4, 2014

Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Book Summary
Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...
Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too. 
The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.
So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

Flo's Review
I really wanted to like this book. I chose it as the first of several audiobooks I'd received to review because I just loved the concept -- three gals, a road trip. "How fun!" I thought. "They will get into all kinds of fun adventures! It will make me want to grab my besties and hit the open road!"

Unfortunately, it did not. Admittedly, their lives all kinda sucked (except for Colleen, who was just making her own drama for no good reason), but this book to me was basically just them whining about how horrible everything is for 350 pages. There was literally one point in the book where Colleen and Bitty are sitting at a bar engaging in a "who has the crappier life right now??" match. I can't. I cannot. I know you had to show these characters hitting rock bottom so you can see them starting to climb their way up, but I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it was more climbing and less descent and groveling around at the bottom. The happy ending for the gals was pretty much right at the end. The rest of the time they were just driving around and brooding in their own heads. I made myself push through it, though....

...and that is how I shall transition to end on a good note. Usually, if I really don't like a book, I am okay with just stopping it. Ending the road trip, so to say. But for some reason, I had to keep going with this one. I must have felt vested in the characters. And I also liked the "money" quote  -- this is great, and I can see why it inspired the title:

"You are not alone. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Don't keep everything bottled up inside. Open up. It's like" -- she looked around, then gestured at the car -- "it's like driving with the top down. Technically, you're more vulnerable, and everyone can see what would otherwise be hidden inside, but its the only way to fully enjoy the sun and the wind and life. It's so much better than keep it all closed up!"

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for the chance to review this audiobook.

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