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The Whole Way Home: A Novel Hardcover – June 6, 2017
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From the Back Cover
A luminous talent on the brink of country music stardom must confront small-town scandal, old heartbreak, and second chances . . . all while singing her heart out in Nashville
Wearing her trusty red cowboy boots and playing to sold-out shows, rising country singer Joanne Lover is poised to become a one-name Nashville star like her idols--Loretta, Reba, and Dolly. To ensure her success, Jo has carefully honed her public image as a long-haired, sassy, down-to-earth girl from the mountains of Virginia who pours her heart into her songs.
But Jo’s perfect world is threatened when a tribute concert brings Nashville heartthrob J. D. Gunn—her first love—back into her life. Jo and J. D. grew up together but parted ways to carve out their own crooked roads to stardom. When they’re forced back together, sparks fly, igniting a flurry of tabloid rumors. What drove Jo and J. D. apart? Why don’t they ever go back to their hometown? What secrets are they hiding?
The perfect ballad of romance, scandal, and redemption, The Whole Way Home is a love letter to country music, first love, and rising stars.
About the Author
Sarah Creech was born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her work has appeared in storySouth, Literary Mama, Aroostook Review, Glass, and Glimmer Train. She teaches English and creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. Season of the Dragonflies is her first novel.
Top customer reviews
Joanne “Jo” Lover has remained true to the country music she began playing as an up and coming star. Signed with independent label, Asphalt Record, she has retained creative control over her music and she is definitely on track for hitting it big. Engaged to marry her music producer, Nick Sullivan, she is dismayed to learn that her future father-in-law who also owns Asphalt, has just signed a deal with her childhood friend, first musical collaborator-and her first love-J.D. Gunn. Their parting of ways was less than amicable and Jo has been extremely vocal in her belief that J.D. sold out when he stopped writing his own songs in order to churn out the typical beer drinking, pick-up truck and girl chasing songs that are so popular in country music today. After they perform a duet at an event, the video goes viral and now Asphalt Record wants them to collaborate on a new album together. In the midst of this professional turmoil, Jo cannot forget what J.D. once meant to her and a reporter is trying to dig up dirt on her long ago past.
Jo is an extremely talented singer/songwriter and she has amassed an incredibly loyal fan base. She has never compromised her musical integrity in order to fill Nashville’s vision of today’s country music. She is an ardent champion of female country artists and she is quite outspoken in her belief that women singers deserve equal airtime with their male counterparts. Jo has never regretted her decision to sign with Asphalt Record and she is grateful for Nick’s assistance in helping shape her career. Despite their long standing acquaintance and her admiration for her new fiancé, she has not confided certain aspects of her past to him. With utterly disparate backgrounds, Jo has no doubt there is no way he can understand certain aspects of her life before she moved to Nashville.
J.D. and his band the Empty Shells are wildly popular but he is at the point where he wants to regain creative control over his career. Ready to return to his roots, he is eager to begin working on their next album. It has been several years since his path last crossed with Jo but he is well aware of her opinion that he is a sellout. He is surprised when his old feelings for Jo immediately rise to the surface and while he would not deliberately sabotage her relationship with Nick, he does not hesitate to bring up memories of their time together as children and their early years together in Nashville. He is quick to take advantage of an opportunity for them to perform together but J.D. is disappointed when their first attempts to write new material do not go well.
The Whole Way Home is a captivating novel with wonderful cast of eclectic characters and an engaging storyline. Sarah Creech provides readers with an intriguing behind the scenes peek into the country music industry that is quite fascinating and very illuminating. Jo’s relationship with J.D. is heartwarming yet troubled due to their complicated history. A shocking plot twist late in the story threatens to destroy everything Jo holds dear and the future of her career hangs in the balance.
A thoroughly engrossing, feel good story that will to appeal to music lovers of all types.
I received a complimentary copy for review.
Jo(anne) Lover is a country music musician who embodies the roots of traditional country music. She is an independent person, applauding a long line of strong women singers who have gone before and she is not very keen on the male country singers who sing about their trucks and the girls in their daisy dukes who sit in the passenger’s seat. And that’s one reason why she thinks J.D. Dunn, a boy she’s known since she was 10, is a sellout.
I came to The Whole Way Home thinking that it was a romance novel. While there is romance in it, actually a subplotted romance as well, this is more along the lines of women’s fiction with much more depth and elegance of writing than in your traditional romance novel. And I was really delighted with the quality of Sarah Creech’s storytelling and writing.
There is a lot about traditional country music here for people who enjoy it, with a focus on Dolly and Loretta and Emmylou and a lot of early singers. The depth of knowledge shows a lot of research.
The Whole Way Home is told in multiple povs, which can be distracting, but Creech handled this with finesse. However, for anyone hoping that the story would focus on Jo and J.D., they might find that the multiple povs distance them from the relationship, but as I mentioned, this isn’t solely a romance so hopefully readers will be aware of that coming into it.
The subplot of Jo’s assistant, Marie, and an upcoming drummer, Denver, is interesting, with Marie being ten years younger than Jo and sometimes behaving like a party-girl, a nice foil for Jo’s more settled persona. Denver is part of a duo, The Flyby Boys, with Alan, a talented black musician who sings and plays various instruments. Part of the subplot involves The Flyby Boys being discovered and what that ultimately means for a black musician in Nashville.
There is a lot more to The Whole Way Home. It’s a book you can easily lose yourself in. The writing is frequently poetic and Creech describes natural settings with flair. I appreciated that there weren’t any stereotypical characters. Corporations might be stereotyped though—but is it a stereotype if it’s true?
I highly recommend this for any one who loves a lot of country with their music as well as readers who like relationship novels that aren’t afraid to deal with hard topics.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.