Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Your Destination Is on the Left by Lauren SpiellerYour Destination Is on the Left by Lauren Spieller
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR on June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance.

Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.

Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?

Your Destination Is on the Left is one of those books that is totally at fault for the fact that I will continue to judge books by their covers for the rest of time. Because I absolutely one hundred percent only requested this book because I’m in love with the cover. I mean, obviously I was minorly intrigued by the content, but I remember telling myself I probably shouldn’t download it but then going “aw hell it’s gorgeous I’m doin’ it.” And this book turned out to be really excellent, so there you have it: being shallow is not always a terrible decision.

Dessa’s family lives in a caravan of RVs, which sounds like miserable hippie nonsense to me tbh. They’re one of three families who travel around the USA together, making all big decisions collectively. The amount which I could not do this is so much. I mean, the itty bitty living space is a problem, but having so many people control decisions that affected me would irritate me endlessly. Like, the group gets to vote on whether Dessa can accept an internship and whether someone gets an on-location job for part of the year. Obviously they decide to let other people decide for them, but it’s just such an alien concept my to my independent, introverted self.

Much as I would absolutely loathe to live this way, it was cool to read about people living in a way that’s so different from how I do. I actually didn’t have any idea this was a thing that people did. I mean, I knew people traveled in RVs but not that some people made a lifestyle out of it. It’s kind of cool to realize that there are so many ways to make a life.

Unfortunately for Dessa, she kind of feels the way that I do about the whole RV caravan lifestyle. She likes aspects of the life, but she’s struggling with the fact that she would like some stability. Her way out was planned: she’d go to an art school for college. Only problem is that she didn’t get in, which has her questioning everything: her future as an artist and her wish to leave the caravan. The group really didn’t support the whole college thing, including her parents, but Dessa had pushed for what she wanted, only to have everything fall apart in front of her.

One thing I love about this book is that it’s about alternate paths to your goals. Dessa wanted to do the whole straight-to-college thing, but she didn’t get accepted. Along the way to figuring out her plan, she gets an internship with an artist she admires, who, she learns, didn’t attend college herself. Another friend she makes on the road is attending a community college and planning to move from their to a four-year college. Teens may feel like they have one possible route to adulthood, but there are many more options out there, and I think it’s great when books show this in a way that doesn’t seem like settling.

Your Destination Is on the Left also deals with the way that creativity can suffer when you’re lacking in confidence or going through a period of time where you really don’t know yourself. Dessa’s obviously doubting herself greatly after being rejected from ten art schools, and that translates into her questioning everything she ever thought she knew about herself. From that place, it becomes so difficult for her to create, which then feeds more into her self-doubt. I also liked the emphasis on the balance between talent and technique, and not losing the passion in trying to do everything perfectly skillfully, something which applies to more than just art.

The romance isn’t of a type I’m especially into, and it was probably my least favorite of the plot lines, though I do think it fit into the story very well. Cyrus is Dessa’s best friend, another member of the traveling caravan, and she’s been crushing on him for years. He perfectly encapsulates the struggle between what she sees as her two options: settling down somewhere and leaving the caravan or committing to the caravan way of life forever. The romantic element focuses on the importance of determining whether you and the person you love have the same interests and goals in life. It’s not a message teens (or adults) probably want, but it’s an important one, and it’s understandable that Dessa cannot decide whether to kiss the boy she loves even when she knows he loves her too.

Your Destination Is on the Left is a book all about making the choices that are right for you, even if they’re not where everyone around you, or even you, expected you to end up. With a strong voice and excellent character arc, this book is a hidden gem.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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