A heart-warming story of first love, friendships, standing up for yourself, but most importantly about family and all its messiness.
Poppy Nwosu, based in Adelaide, Australia, has published three romantic contemporary novels for young adults: Making friends with Alice Dyson, Taking Down Evelyn Tait and now her newest offering, Road Tripping with Pearl Nash.
This is the story of 17-year-old Pearl Nash. Pearl has braces and she grew up in the country, so fitting in to a city school has not been easy. It is now the summer holidays, at the end of her second-to-last year of high school. She is heading off on a road trip to try and do something about her disintegrating friendship with her very best friend in the world, Daisy. Unfortunately, along the way she picks up Obi who has been left at a service station in the middle of the desert. Obi is annoying, opinionated and she really does not like him! On the way to a party at a beach shack in the middle of nowhere, Pearl must also find her nana who has disappeared without a trace, navigate breakdowns, work out how she feels about a kiss that should never have happened and work through family issues that have torn her family apart. A lot to think about!
Road Tripping with Pearl Nash is written in the first person with the occasional flashback for context. It is a story about first love, friendships, racism, self-esteem and standing up for yourself, but most importantly it is about family and all its messiness.The characters are mostly endearing, especially nana with all her quirks. There are of course, the mean kids who are oblivious to their effect on others.
Each chapter is named after a flower, a nod to Pearl’s nana and grandfather’s love of Australian flora: bottlebrush, kangaroo paw, swamp gum. There is also a mention of our Australian staple Vegemite.
Even though Road Tripping with Pearl Nash is a story for young adults, it stops short of being so full of angst that the reader wants it to end. Yes, Pearl does have issues that she continually weighs up, but there is enough storyline around these issues that it does not get bogged down.
Thankfully, there are no lengthy descriptive passages, but even so, Nwosu has been able to give the reader a real sense of the vastness of the country side, the wind-swept beaches and the oppressive summer heat. It is unclear where in Australia this story is set, and it doesn’t really matter. Suffice to say, there are huge distances covered.
This story is a coming-of-age road trip for the young adult and many will empathise with Pearl and life as a 17-year-old girl.
Reviewed by Sue Mauger
Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: September 2021