Two Roads From Here by Teddy Steinkellner (439 pages)
Overview: We've all wondered how much control we really have at our lives at one time or another. This book takes this question head on, following five high school seniors, each with life changing choices and questions, through both paths set in front of them. After the set up chapters, the book is divided into homecoming week, winter, springs, and graduation before tying it all up with a nice epilogue. Further, these sections tell the story of road one and road two. What happens because of the choices they make, and how could it have gone differently? And, ultimately, do these choices really matter or are we all headed to the same results no matter what we choose. This is a thought provoking exploration of a question that simply cannot be answered, and, therefore, it is captivating. Overall: 5
Characters: 5 There are five POV characters in the novel. I was blown away by how authentic and unique each voice was. There is no mistaking one character for another. Each of the five represents a high school stereotype or trope while giving it more depth, unique facets, and humanity. Because, really, these groups or stereotypes have arisen because they are true to reality, a problem only arrises when the shell is all that is exhibited.
First, there is Brian who plays defense for the school's football team. After getting a concussion because of a stupid choice, he must choose whether to sit out and take the heat from his teammates or play and risk making the injury far worse. While he first comes off like the typical, jerk, bone headed jock, each storyline shows us there's much more.
Then there's Allegra who gets into her dream school, Stanford, but with her mother's ovarian cancer returning and her family depending on her, she must make a tough choice. But she also must deal with complicated relationships with her friends.
Wiley is originally faced with deciding whether to risk his friendship by telling his best friend he loves her and risk loosing her or to keep his feeling to himself. Of course, as with all of these initial questions, this is only a springboard to more complex questions.
Niki is a beautiful, proper southern girl, and this works out for her until her secret past gets revealed. Deciding how far to take it with her boyfriend quickly becomes one of the least prevalent things on her mind, but it is the tipping point.
Finally, there's Cole who's spent his life rightfully resenting everyone. After enduring years of both racial and homophobic slurs his whole life, he only wants to finally get what he wants, to rise above them all and start a new life at Stanford. He's smart too, but struggles with math, so he devises a plan to cheat which would ensure him scores that would give him admission, but at what cost?
Plot: 5 Following these separate plot lines and matching how different events fall into place despite different choices is endlessly fascinating. Piecing together the plot is like one big jigsaw puzzle making the story unputdownable.
Writing: 5 I am in awe of the author. Beyond the amazing concept, there is the execution of two entirely separate plot lines that intertwine with events that happen regardless of the choice. Beyond writing nearly two different books, what he did with the characters, creating distinct voices for each and filling them out more through the eyes of the other characters, was spectacular. It was such a well written book, I could feel no mark of the author as I read from the character's section. It was simply the character voicing the story which is what you can only hope a book will achieve.
Links of Interest:
For Part 1 of Week 26: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/09/weekly-reviews-and-recommendations-week_13.html
For My Post on Looking For Alaska: http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/07/reviews-and-recommendations-week-16.html