Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: YA / Coming of Age / Adventure / Contemporary Fantasy
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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“Aaron Michael Ritchey was born with Colorado thunderstorms in his soul. He's sought shelter as a world traveler, an endurance athlete, a story addict, and even gave serious thought to becoming a Roman Catholic priest. After too brief a time in Paris, he moved back to the American West and lives semi-comfortably with three forces of nature: a little, blonde hurricane, an artistic tornado, and a beautiful, beautiful blizzard.”
Mr. Ritchey’s Long Live the Suicide King was a nominee in BigAl’s Books and Pals 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards under the YA category. For more, visit his website.
“Sixteen-year-old Beth Meyers creeps through her days, terrified of her domineering mother and viciously pretty sisters. Beth’s only comfort is reading to her catatonic grandmother. Then the impossible happens. Grandma May awakens, desperate to get to France by midnight on Halloween, only five days away. Someone named Phillip will be there waiting, someone she knew when she fought the Nazis during World War II. But is Grandma May telling the truth? For the first time in her life, Beth will defy her mother and sneak her grandmother out of the nursing home and across the Atlantic. There she will find answers, romance, and a world she never dreamed could possibly exist.”
Beth is a junior in high school, a bit over-weight, insecure, and a terribly introverted sixteen-year-old. Mostly because of her verbally abusive mother and younger sisters. Her twin sisters, Megan and Melinda, are pretty, thin, and popular. All of which, Beth is not. Beth has only one memory of her grandmother before the nursing home. She was six years-old and they were making cookies, Grandma May smiled with kind blue eyes and called her Elizabeth. Not Beth, not Bethie, but Elizabeth. Beth longed to be headstrong and confident like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, one of her favorite stories.
While Beth was reading to Grandma May, she suddenly awakens and wants to make plans to fly to Paris to rendezvous with Phillip at midnight on Halloween, Beth thinks her grandma is delusional. However, May seems so full of life and promise that Beth follows along at first just to keep her safe. So… the adventure begins. This is a wild adventurous roller-coaster ride that tests friendships, loyalty, obligations, responsibilities, reality, love, and truth.
The plot is character driven and told through Beth’s eyes. She is dismayed a lot of the time. (Ha! I get it!) But May keeps challenging Beth to stretch outside of her comfort zone, to find the confidence she needs to succeed within herself. May does this by showing her examples. May can be quite a swindler, she knows how to read people and connect with them. Is this a form of magic? At each stage of Grandma May’s quest the goal is to be reunited with Phillip, her one true love. May has held onto a poem written by Phillip for sixty-four years. In this poem is a riddle they must decipher to find the next poem and a small treasure. It’s like a scavenger hunt through May’s past and they are being followed by tattooed men.
When the tattooed men show up in France in force, Beth and May are chased. It becomes clear that these men seek to end May’s quest by any means necessary and things suddenly get real for Beth. At the train station a young handicapped Frenchman, Quince, helps Beth and May escape the tattooed men yet again. He offers them a safe place to stay and decides to join their quest. But there is a dramatic turn when Grandma May meets with tragedy and is weakening. All she wants now is one last kiss from Phillip before she dies.
Beth ends up risking more than she should to try to make that happen for May by taking over her quest. As she meets the final stage head-on Beth learns she can walk through her fear afraid. There are some emotional twists and dramatic revelations towards the end of this story that caught me unaware. Aaron Michael Ritchey has been able to take this coming of age tale to a whole new level. The adventure is engrossing, the tension continues to build through the entire story with suspense and emotion. The characters are unique, charming, and the relationships have a realistic feel to them. I have to say, well done! This is a journey extraordinaire.
I was given an advance readers copy to review. However, I found no significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five stars