Review: Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

July 20, 2013

Title: Right of Way
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publication date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Rating: 3/5 stars
Can a road trip repair a romance gone wrong? Find out in this standalone companion to Lauren Barnholdt’s Two-way Street.

Here are Peyton and Jace, meeting on vacation. Click! It’s awesome, it’s easy, it’s romantic. This is the real deal.

Unless it isn’t. Because when you’re in love, you don’t just stop calling one day. And you don’t keep secrets. Or lie. And when your life starts falling apart, you’re supposed to have the other person to lean on.

Here are Peyton and Jace again, broken up but thrown together on a road trip. One of them is lying about the destination. One of them is pretending not to be leaving something behind. And neither of them is prepared for what’s coming on the road ahead…
The first thing I did when I saw this book was add it to my tbr list, even before I'd read the blurb. I absolutely adored Two Way Street back when I read it. It's one of the books that got me into the YA genre the first time (before I broke up with the genre, and then got back into it), and one that I hold as a YA classic. So when I saw that Right of Way was a companion novel to Two Way Street, I knew I had to read it.

Having read and loved Two Way Street the way I did, I naturally had high expectations for this one. Unfortunately, Right of Way did not live up to them.

Peyton plans to go on a 'trip' to North Carolina (she's running away) with her best friend Brooklyn. Except, at the last minute, when she's at her uncle's wedding, Brooklyn ends up ditching her, and now Peyton is virtually stranded in Florida, with no money and no ride. Enter Jace, Peyton's version of 'hell-on-my-heart', who offers to help her out and take her home to Connecticut. With no other options left, Peyton agrees, but with the intention of tricking him into taking her to North Carolina.

The book alternates between Jace's and Peyton's points of view and is interspersed with flashbacks, which is typical of a Barnholdt book. On any other book, this would probably be confusing and hard to keep up with, but Barnholdt somehow makes it work, and sounds charming as well! It's actually one of my favourite features in her books.

The story is fun and engaging! It's fast paced, so you dont have any page skimming happening out here. Right from the get go, it's obvious that there's some painful history between the two characters, that plays into their present action and decisions. Like with most of Lauren Barnholdt's books, you get really involved in the story and the anticipation builds nicely right from the start.

Despite how much I enjoyed the author's writing, I couldn't quite connect with the characters. I get that they are meant to be natural, faults and all, but I just couldn't see them as characters I could understand and relate to. Peyton is a very girly girl, and as she confesses early on, a bit high maintenance. She's facing a tough time at home, and that pushes her to make some drastic decisions, though not necessarily smart ones. In fact, I actually found some of her actions lacking reason; lile running away for instance. Which is why, when Jace points out the same thing, I took him for a responsible person, only to be let down. Well, okay, he is responsible to an extent, but his attitude towards a couple of things annoyed me. Check this out: You have awesome parents, great friends, and now, you're valedictorian on top of all that! Which sane person would crib about being valedictorian, and be ready to skip graduation because of that? Okay, I get that giving a speech can be nerve wracking, but his entire attitude towards the whole thing was flippant and casual, in my opinion. And they both have the tendency to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Despite all their faults (which can be mostly ignored), both Jace & Peyton are fun characters. They're very much alike, which makes for some humourous instances when they end up having almost identical thoughts. I also liked Jace's overall outlook towards things in general; he's very pragmatic and straightforward in the way he deals with things (except for his graduation, that is). One thing about this book is that it doesn't follow the same route as Two Way Street in terms of the road trip. In fact, at the end of the day there's very little actual 'road tripping' happening. I also wished the ending was more conclusive, though this could just be me being anal.

For those of you who loved Two Way Street and are curious about what role Courtney & Jordan play in this book, they're role is pretty small. They make occasional guest appearances, giving some input here and there. Where Two Way Street is intense and emotional, Right of Way is lighter and funnier.

Bottomline: Fans of Two Way Street will like this one, mostly I think due to some leftover affection for the first book, but dont expect what you got from the former. Still, it is a light, summery read and fun in it's own right.

Katie's Book Blog: Overall, Right of Way is a fun read that will satisfy fans of Two Way Street.  I would recommend not getting your hopes up though since it's not quite as great as the first.

Tabitha's Book Blog: had all of the qualities of a great contemporary for me. It was set in the summer, there was a road trip, DUAL POV, getting to see past characters, and did I mention ROAD TRIP? However, despite all of the great qualities the end product was underwhelming.

Books of Amber: Right of Way was missing the spark that was in Two-way Street, which I really enjoyed when I read it a year or so ago.


  1. I felt the same way about this book. I really loved Two Way Street, but Right of Way definitely didn't live up to expectations. As you said, it was difficult relating to the characters in this book, which is strange because I usually find that the characters are the most engaging part of a Barnholdt book. In the end, though I liked it, it was underwhelming :(

    1. Exactly! I hate when I raise my expectations for a book, only to be disappointed. But I think, had I not expected so much from it, it would have read better.

  2. I haven't heard too much about this one, but glad that you enjoyed it overall! I think that bit about not being able to connect with the characters would bug me quite a bit, though, since contemporaries NEED to have that character-reader relationship in order for me to be emotionally invested, so that might be a problem... Still, it's great that the author's writing was easy to follow, and the plot was engaging. Major pluses, in my opinion. :) Thanks for the informative review, Fahima!


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