Expected publication: October 4th 2016 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
Well, I happily ate crow. Because Emma Mills wrote a beautiful, thoughtful book. So when I realized she had another book coming out, I couldn't wait.
Things that worked:
Sloane is funny and sly, and readers will appreciate her candid behavior as she settles into her new group of friends, whether it's wondering if she should act a certain way as dictated by TV shows - something I think any teen wonders, especially as they're learning to formulate their behavior in younger years - or trying to do right by Vera and Gabe as she learns their background, even if it's not something she has to do. This is a girl who is sincerely, honestly trying to navigate her world in the day-to-day path that leads to friendship, and readers will absolutely be along for hte ride.
While the overarching arc of the story is centered on Sloane trying to find the painting for Gabe and Vera, Mills does an exceptional job of also emphasizing the day-to-day elements of Sloane's burgeoning friendship with their group.
She focuses on the minutiae of friendship that Sloane experiences; whether it's helping a friend's issues with an ex - including telling said friend off, when he crosses a line - to simply getting to know a friend's texting behavior. There's a nice, underlying reminder on what it means to form solid, sincere friendships, and how friendships can evolve, as people learn each other's comfort level.
Though I generally get a bit impatient at books that don't have a lot of specific or plot-driven development, I actually found myself fascinated by seeing all of these friendships unfold. Mills writes them in a way where you feel like these friendships are developing in a way where all of them really will end up being friends for life, and it's almost inspiring (and jealously inducing, since I want more friends like this!) to see it all unfold.
On Gabe and Vera:
While Mills has never overtly stated any specific connection between This Adventure Ends to Brideshead Revisited, I couldn't help but draw one in my mind, when reading about the relationship between Gabe/Sloane/Vera.
Mills does an exceptional job of explaining just why Sloane is attracted emotionally to both twins, and how they mutually give each other a friendship that makes them stronger and more well-rounded. And while the twins initially come off as being diametrically opposed, Mills gradually draws readers into understanding how they actually have far more in common, and how it's Sloane that begins to help them move past certain elements involving their mother.
On the darker issues:
While the overall tone of This Adventure Ends is very light, Mills does a fine job of touching on darker issues, including depression in a variety of forms.
We see Sloane's author father handling depression through a slightly humorous but absolutely logical way - I would totally read more of his fanfiction - but we also see Vera giving into the need to be depressed at times, especially about her mother. While this is familiar territory for YA, it's Sloane's reaction to these situations that will make these situations stand out.
She's empathetic and genuinely kind, whether it's reading each piece of fanfiction that her father hands her, or warmly offering to drive Vera to see her girlfriend, when she realizes that is the best course of action for Vera's sadness. It's kindness and empathy that makes a reader not only feel the genuinely love and friendship that exists between father and daughter, and Sloane and friend, but also just what it means to be a true, loving friend.
The ending. It's pitch perfect, even though I absolutely reluctantly closed the book with a sigh.
Things that didn't work (for me)/Things to consider:
However, if This Adventure Ends is to be viewed through the Brideshead Revisited lens, then that inexplecable attachment would absolutely make sense.
I rarely miss high school, but Mills made me miss being young, and feeling the world is at your fingertips. And if the book is lightly inspired by Brideshead Revisited like I suspect it is, all the better. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Read it - you'll adore it.
Highly recommend for all readers, full stop.
Check out the rest of the tour:
This Adventure Travels
Interview with Emma
This Adventure Paints
This Adventure Explores
Would you Rather Questions
Guest Post: How Emma researched about art in TEA and what pieces inspired her?
This Adventure Creates
This Adventure Blooms
Guest Post: 10 Things We Didn't Know About You
This Adventure Inspires
Guest Post: Road Trip Essentials
This Adventure Swims
Guest Post: Friend Vacations
This Adventure Begins
Guest Post: Talk about your character building process specifically regarding Sloane's family?
This Adventure Swoons