Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

“The last time Jess saw her father, she was a boy. Now she’s a high school graduate, soon to be on her way to art school. But first she has some unfinished business with her dad. So she’s driving halfway across the country to his wedding. He happens to be marrying her mom’s ex-best friend. It’s not like Jess wasn’t invited; she was. She just never told anyone she was coming. Surprise!

Luckily, Jess isn’t making this trip alone. Her best friend, Christophe-nicknamed Chunk-is joining her.

Along the way, Jess and Chunk learn a few things about themselves-and each other-which call their feelings about their relationship into question.”

-Synopsis taken from Goodreads

Hey guys! Meaghan here again, with another book review for a read to review book! This does deal with LGBTQ conflicts, and I am not involved enough in that community (as in I do not have first-hand experience with the conflict, but still support the issues that everyone faces), so I do not feel it is my place to comment on how this book handled it compared to real life, so my review is restricted more to elements of the plot and story, and characters themselves separated from how the community was portrayed in the story. On with the review!

Stars (Out of 10): 5.5/10 Stars

Overall Thoughts: I have quite mixed thoughts about this book. It seemed to build up for one case, when suddenly not, with the narrator being an unreliable one. I also found myself liking the characters less and less as the book continued on, finding myself more annoyed with some of the things that made me like them at first. I did like the realisticness of the personalities at points though, and like where the book led to as it ended, although it did end very abruptly.

SPOILERS BEGIN HERE

The Good: The book was realistic in how all the characters had flaws. I also liked the overall message it sent out, about looking at the bigger picture, putting yourself in others shoes, and by showing that support can come from the strangest places in some cases. I also like how the book ended with the father redeeming himself in a way, with him making an effort to understand and support his daughter. I thought that ending ended up being a lot better than the angry confrontation I had been expecting! It was a good read, even if my main lingering thoughts are about its flaws.

The Bad: The ending was super abrupt, in a way that really annoyed me. It felt like Chuck showed up, apologies were somewhat exchanged, there was a kiss, no more conversation where Jess continues her apology, or continues the redemption for her character, and then suddenly it was over. I liked the redemption all the “hated” characters were getting, but was a bit upset with it being cut short. The suddenly unreliable narrator was also fairly confusing, as so much hate and wrongdoing was built up for so many characters, just for it to be almost completely wrong in most cases.

The Characters: I had a love/hate relationship with these characters. I liked the main characters less and less as the story went on, their best friend status seeming less and less realistic with each new “recurring” problem they had. They had reasons to be annoyed with each other very quickly into the trip, with these beginning problems seeming to be based on very little. These tensions then continuously grew, showing super huge cracks in the friendship, like Jess’s self-absorbtion. However, it comes as a complete surprise to Jess, and if she’s been so self-absorbed for so long, it doesn’t make as much sense for it to never have been brought up, since it’s been a problem since the beginning of middle school. It makes me wonder how true those problems were, and if their sudden appearance may have only be revealed to further the romantic tension.

The Plot: I liked where the book was going in the beginning, and then where it ended up. However, there was a lot of intense and confusing conflict in the middle, that didn’t necessarily fit into the background we learned of the characters. I did like Annabelle, and had hoped for her to have a larger effect on Jess and her mindset at that point, but we didn’t ever get to see that truly come about in her redemption moment.

The Favorite Character: I actually really liked the father near the end, and Chuck in the beginning (before he decided to try his hardest to kinda ignore and forget about his feelings for Jess.)

Buy it, Borrow it, or Bin it: Borrow it

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