Since the age of six, Jake and Aiden have been the very best of friends, but just friends. When Jake’s parents died and Aiden’s parents divorced, they turned to each other and have a unique bond. When Aiden returns from a year abroad, their relationship has shifted. They both have feelings for the other, but both are terrified of ruining their friendship and both secretly feel they are not enough for the other. Taking a road trip across the country in an RV has them visiting every state and exploring more than just the open road. 100 days, 50 states, their trip is mapped out, but their futures are changing course at every turn.
An after college road trip between the best of friends is what you will find here. This is also a new author with a debut book that I took a chance on and I was hoping I was not going to be looking for the road trip to end before they made it off the east coast. And, whew, that was so not the case. We get caught up on Jake and Aiden’s friendship and family life quickly in the beginning of the book and then see the details expand over the course of the story. They are both at a crossroads in many ways, having just graduated college, figuring out where they go next, and dealing with a multitude of family issues. They are both emotional guys and the narrative at times is descriptive and introspective and that style suits me just fine.
These guys really emotionally shred each other over the entire road trip and there is plenty of angst for miles that doesn’t let up. They shift from friends, to kisses, to a full on physical relationship. They both want more, so much more. They make each other feel just a little less lost and the author plays up the touches and the lingering looks. While Jake feels he can’t be enough or give enough to Aiden, Aiden feels he is just not worthy of Jake. They agree their physical relationship will just be for the duration of the trip, but what we have here is a love that has been building since childhood. It is clear how well Aiden and Jake know each other and their true, familiar, and intimate friendship is well written.
The landscape of America serves as more of a backdrop as they hit all fifty states. While they watch a movie that is representative of each state and see some sights, the true journey is their relationship. While some states do have significant meaning, for the most part, the specific state is less important than what is happening between the two of them. So the book could have been tightened a bit as it began to wander, side stories were brought in (and not all had resolution), and the guys continually circled each other as they approached the mid point of the country. For every step forward they took, they would then subsequently take one or two steps back all the way across the country. Also, moving their relationship to a physical one became a series of defining moments for them. Many (not all) of these early scenes were fade to black and then only small glimpses were told in the aftermath. This style greatly reduced the intended impact of how their relationship was initially changing. But, when we do get to see them together, damn, they are so good together because they know it’s everything. Just one observation: it did seem entirely too easy for them to park their RV as they reached some of their destinations, but I will just leave that one to the world of fiction.
The author excelled at showing the deep feelings Jake and Aiden had for each other, tapped into age appropriate turmoil, and showcased how they were always meant to be together. These guys will make you crazy as they fall for one another, push each other away, and come to terms with the fact that forever has always been standing right in front of them. A debut novel certainly worth taking a look at and a new author to keep on the radar.