A Ticket to Ride by Paula McLain

Jamie lives with her Uncle Raymond because her mother Suzette left home and has always been a sort of wild child always on the go and never looking back. Jamie is a shy outcast, new in town, out of place, with no sense of belonging. And then her cousin Fawn shows up to stay with them. Fawn is gorgeous and mature, oozes confidence, and loves to flirt. She slowly pulls Jamie out of her shell one summer in the 70s as the two become friends.

There are two stories here, alternating throughout the book. We have the past where Raymond tries to find his sister and offer her protection, and then we have the present which follows Fawn and Jamie and their mischeivious friendship. Each is delicate in its own way, and also somewhat mirrors the other as your read further along.

I found the characters to be well developed and each full of mystery in a way and oh so fragile. I was so anxious to see where their conflicts would take them. This is a nice slow coming-of-age story which is, more than anything, meant to be admired for the writing itself. As the story builds to its climax, we find ourselves with less than 50 pages to read, but the journey there was both heartfelt and meaningful.

This book is about loss, and about friendships we often have as teens despite our parents warning us about that “bad kid” from around the block. It’s about music, shag carpet, baby oil tans, and TV shows that definied a generation. It’s about connections that we long for as human beings whether it be from a relative or just a good close friend. It’s about sneaking out on a Friday night and going somehwere you aren’t supposed to.

I would consider this book to be almost a teen reading level, and even targeted more toward girls, but as a man in my 30s I really did fall in love with McLain’s style and thought this was a good book. What it lacked in action or in its climax, it certainly made up for in imagery and style.

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