General Rating: ★
Diversity rating: ★★ (LGBT+: transgender; mental illness: alzheimer’s)
The Way Back Home is a story about a girl whose grandmother with Alzheimer’s is sent to a care home. And since you’re reading this review and I’m assuming after this you won’t read this book, my review will contain some spoilers.
The Way Back Home by Allan Stratton
Zoe Bird is going nowhere fast. She’s angry and lonely, and her only true friend is her granny, whose Alzheimer’s is worsening. When her parents put Granny in a home, Zoe decides now is the time to break free. She smuggles Granny out and together they hit the tracks on a cross-country trip to find Zoe’s long-lost uncle. But there will be some home truths along the way. . .
An emotional story about family, surviving school and being true to yourself for fans of The Art of Being Normal and Unbecoming.
First things first, do not read this book. Unless you hate yourself, then be my guest, read this book.
Second, the main character is a horrible brat with serious issues. If I were her parents, I would definitely put her in some kind of institution because that girl seriously needs to get her act together. She is not only rude to her family, she is mean to everyone (except her grandma), she is self-absorbed, reckless, immature, and if I think she has some type of mental illness (possibly depression?) because what she thinks and does is not normal.
Some quotes of things she says to her parents / thinks about her parents are:
(edit: they’re in the car)
I want to kick the back of her seat so hard she’ll fly through the windshield.
“I can’t wait till you’re old,” I mutter as we go inside. ‘I’ll lock you in Greenview so fast your heads’ll spin. When you cry and scream like Granny, I’ll laugh.”
“I hate you. I wish you were dead.”
Mom’s lip trembles. “What did we do to deserve this?”
“You got pregnant, that’s what. Why didn’t you get rid of me? I wish you had.” I run to my room, smother my face in my pillow. A whirlwind of hollers. “LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” I keep it up till they do.
Third, the whole book is basically built around the fact that you’re supposed to feel sorry for Zoe (the main character), which I didn’t obviously. The side characters are if possible even worse than Zoe. Madi, her cousin, is an absolute bitch. She is literally evil. **Spoiler ahead: Madi even got her friend to nearly kill Zoe, simply for the fact that she hates her. There are also several mentions of Zoe wanting to end her life. Suicide and murder are NOT to be taken lightly and having teens nearly kill each other or themselves over a stupid fight is not okay. End of spoiler**
So then her grandmother is sent to an elderly home, which is something I think is completely grounded because she could barely function alone. Zoe completely disagrees with her parents. I am on the parents’ side this time. Zoe’s parents are not perfect and I would say they were quite bad parents (they believed Madi over their own daughter!). On this topic, however, I think they were completely in the right to put grandma in the home. When you start to agree with parents in YA books, you’re either just too old for the book, or the kid is just stupid. This time it’s the latter.
Zoe decides to break out her grandma and go to her uncle who she never met and don’t even know where he lives or let alone lives at all, which is just about the stupidest decision I’ve heard so far. She freaking let her grandmother who can barely function at all drive on the freaking highway. GIRL GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. Zoe never learns, and even in the end, she is still rude and hateful.
I am giving this book 1 star, because I can’t come up with any reasons why I would give it any more stars. I hated this book, it made me angry and pissed and I just wanted to punch these characters in their face. The writing was okay and I kind of liked Zoe’s relation with her grandmother but that was all of the good things I could come up with. I would honestly not recommend this book to anyone, but if after all of my ranting you still decide to pick it up, I wish you good luck.