(Review) The Way Back to You

The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani & Mindi Scott
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 384 (kindle)
Genre:Young Adult 
My Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way.

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 cares about anymore.

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 character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see 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 to back to her...and to each other.

My Review: 
When I first saw this book offered on Edelweiss all I could think was: 

The summary sounded similar to The Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (read it) and so I really couldn't wait to get my grubby little hands on this one. 

This story is told from both Cloudy's (Claudia) and Kyle's POVs and their thoughts are equally heartbreaking and pretty depressing. They are high school students who are mourning the loss of Ashlyn, their best friend and girlfriend. Ashlyn died in a freak accident and, being the humanitarian she was, she decided to become an organ donor when she got her license. 

Both characters in their lives who are trying to help them get "back to normal" but no one is doing a very good job of it, so after dinner with Ashlyn's parents where Cloudy learns that Ashlyn's mother has been in contact with the people who have received Ashlyn's organs. 

Cloudy's parents are out of town so she decides to take a trip and visit some of the recipients, and she wants to take Kyle with her. Kyle and Cloudy's relationship is rocky at best. They were close because they both loved Ashlyn, but that's about where they end. Except for the fact that Cloudy totally had a huge crush on Kyle before he started dating her best friend. 

The trip starts out simple enough. Cloudy doesn't actually tell Kyle what they are going to do, but he seems okay with it. As they travel and begin to meet each recipient something between them starts to change. It's interesting to watch how the dynamic between them changes as they travel with each other. Kyle opens up about his life, his past, and why he wants to quit baseball. Um, did I mention Kyle brings his new kitten on the road trip with him? 

That was a great big drop in the adorable bucket. 

I really love the way their friendship unfolds as they travel. Kyle is ready to talk about Ashlyn, but it takes Cloudy a while to warm up to the idea of discussing her dead best friend. The way they share their thoughts and feelings obviously brings a part of them to life that neither one of them had thought about in the months since Ashlyn died. 

There's a swoony moment in a cheesy theme park that will definitely leave you wanting more of them together. I did, however, feel that the moment was ruined by a pot cookie. I'm sure that moment was meant to add humor, but I personally didn't feel like it was needed. 

There is, of course, plenty of dramatics that include a wedding, a lost kitten, and a few visitors on their road trip at the end. What I loved about this story was not the way that these two were "put back together" because they are definitely still hurting. I loved that they were able to take a terrible thing and grow and learn from it. (Character growth!) 

Check it out when it comes out in May. 

Thanks to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for the ARC.