Aussie YA Book Review: Destiny Road by Melissa Wray
My rating: 5 / 5
Format: e-Book courtesy of Melissa Wray
Extent: 268 pages
Destiny Road is about a sixteen year old
girl, Jessica, who is building up to making a most important decision. One that will affect the rest of her
life. It is a story of decision, growth
Jessica is sixteen when she meets Bill for the first time. Six months later, she is moved away by her mother, to begin a new life, away from what she knows. Away from the man she is just realising she might have wanted in her life all along, her biological father. So begins Jessica’s journey of living with the choices made by herself and those around her.”
Summary and Thoughts
“Things work out the best for those who make the best of the way things work out”
Jessica has recently moved inter-state from her home town of
leaving behind her two best friends, Dempsey and Claire, as well as her
biological father, Bill, whom she has only recently met after a fifteen year
absence from her life. Regrettably, moving
away from her home town is a decision she felt she had to make in order to
allow her mother, Ally, a chance to follow her own dream even though she knew her
own life was about to be turned upside down. Ashmore
Written in the first person narrative from Jessica’s point of view, the novel opens with Jessica standing at the bus stop in a new State, on her first day at her new school. While at first glance it looks like a cat-fight is about to break out, it turns out to be a case of mistaken identity, but as Jessica goes through her first week and tries to fit in and adapt, she finds her thoughts constantly drifting back to her old life. At the end of the first week at school, Ally presents her with a letter and airline ticket from Bill to go and spend a week of the school holidays with him, even though the holidays feel like forever away.
Her mind already in a whirl with all the “newness” going on, this surprise serves to confuse Jessica even more and while feelings of nostalgia for her friends and old life threaten to overwhelm her and Skype being the only means by which she can still “see” her friends and feel connected to them, when she finds herself spending an inordinate amount of time alone as Ally involves herself wholeheartedly in preparing and decorating her new shop for opening day, Jessica begins to wonder whether she was just a speed hump in her mother’s road and if she is solely responsible for her mother’s dreams not happening sooner.
Arriving back from her holiday with Bill and Janet, a holiday filled with getting to know her father and his partner better, spending some much-needed time with her friends as well as a brief encounter with “bonfire boy” (which she soon erases from her mind), her thoughts continue to whorl in confusion and she finds herself reluctant to share the finer details with Ally, afraid that she will disappoint her mother – after all, for sixteen years it’s only been the two of them!
It all reaches a climax when a heated argument between her and the awful Mitchell takes place after hearing from Mandy, the only female friend she has, that he’s been spreading lies about her. Heading home, Jessica comes face to face with a concerned Ally and a situation which results in the dam wall breaking, threatening to drown both of them. A serious discussion ensues after which Jessica’s myriad emotions see her rushing out the door to spend some time alone to reflect on the choice she has just made, and she suddenly realises that the “pivotal moment” recently discussed in an English class, has finally arrived – “maybe the pivotal moment is a choice that leads to meeting someone who affects you long enough to cause a reaction”.
On her first encounter with “bonfire boy” (Luke), I couldn’t help but think back to another quote about that “pivotal moment” - “perhaps it’s a person you meet, not an incident” and at this juncture, while there are many other characters in this novel who will journey along with you and Jessica on a road trodden by most of us, I felt Luke deserved a special mention due to the sympathy his character invoked in me. A broken young man suffering self-inflicted guilt for a tragic accident that took place when he was young, and its resultant consequences, he is also an awesome example of a teenaged boy who doesn’t have any ulterior motives when it comes to Jessica. Their relationship begins to develop, based firstly on friendship and then trust and, while I would have loved to see this bond strengthen, for the purposes of this novel, it was just perfect.
It might have been a long while since I was a teenager, but I felt myself identifying with emerging author, Melissa Wray’s realistically drawn characters, in particular Jessica, for the strength she maintained in carrying out her choice - because it’s not an easy one, the love and absolute acceptance shown to her by Bill and Janet, and Luke, for his own pain, suffering and self-inflicted guilt at what could have been, but wasn’t!
Thoughtful, introspective and fraught with sentiment, specifically calling to mind Jessica’s reaction to a birthday card, as well as a scene where Luke seeks her comfort, of which both scenes had me reaching for the Kleenex, I was overcome by the real-life tough choices and challenges which a lot of our present-day teenagers are required to face.
I wish to extend my thanks to Melissa Wray for providing me with an e-copy of this lovely YA novel and am certainly looking forward to reading the next novel on her journey as an author.
This is a great read and I recommend it for anyone from 15+ through to adulthood – why not have a look at the official trailer:
A Little About the Author (adapted from her website)
Melissa has always loved reading and grew up about 600m from the local library in which she spent a lot of time. Some of her favourite authors whilst growing up were Judy Blue, Enid Blyton, John Marsden, Ann M Martin and Francine Pascal.
Growing up mostly in Geelong, with a year or two in Townsville, North Queensland, Melissa now lives in Leopold which is in the middle of Geelong and the beach – in her words, “a pretty great place to be” and has been lucky enough to have lived and travelled overseas, highlights of which include Carnivale in Venice, Italy; La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain; and Mt Sinai, Egypt.
Melissa is both a primary school teacher and a mum who is passionate about encouraging her students to enjoy reading and writing and loves creating stories aloud with her kids along with reading to them – “Nothing thrills me more when I see them reading for pleasure, even though they are yet to learn how to read properly”.
An emerging author, she is looking forward to sharing her stories and spending many more hours creating new ones.