Review: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Addie is heartbroken, so spending the summer in Ireland watching her Aunt Mel get married (again) is not the one.
It’s made even worse by the fact that her and Ian – her brother and her closest friend – are at each other’s throats constantly. He won’t let her forget the fact that she didn’t trust his advice earlier in the summer and it blew up in her face.
Oh, and then she misses her flight to Italy because Ian decides he’s going across Ireland on a road trip with Rowan (an internet friend he’s literally never mentioned before who he met through his secret indie music blog) to Electric Picnic to see his favourite band, Titletrack, perform their last ever show. Totally not part of their travel itinerary, particularly not in Clover, Rowan’s beaten up car which is barely roadworthy before they even start their journey.
But luckily she has Ireland for the Heartbroken, a travel guide to Ireland with challenges to complete in each location which promise to help the reader recover from their heartbreak. If Addie can’t have Italy, hopefully guidebook lady’s advice can save the day.
Love & Luck is the contemporary novel I never knew I needed. Every single part of this book appealed to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a book so fast.
I think part of the charm is that I relate deeply to both of the main characters.
Addie’s heartbreak is the violent, messy kind. She doesn’t sit around weeping and moaning; she gets in a fistfight with her brother and shouts so much that she can’t help but cry.
Meanwhile, Ian’s addiction to Titletrack reminds me of how palpable my excitement used to be every time I saw a new band live for the first time. His sadness at Titletrack’s impending split is something that every music fan will feel deeply, and I found myself wistfully wishing that I’d been able to travel across country to see some of my favourite bands’ final shows.
Each chapter of Addie’s story is followed by an excerpt from the guidebook, introducing a new location in Ireland for the group to travel towards. This structure pushes the story on incredibly quickly, because you learn about the place – in a fun, conversational way, completely at odds to what I’d expect from the narrator of a travel guide – and then barrel full steam ahead towards it, overcoming the many obstacles that crop up.
Jenna Evans Welch cleverly relates the stories of the locations and then links them to an aspect of the history of Titletrack, explaining the reason both Addie and Ian would be interested in each landmark they visit. I found myself getting overly invested in a fictional band, and my heart was racing when they finally took to the stage at the end of the novel!
This is a story that’s focused on getting past heartbreak with the help of your friends, not rushing headfirst straight into a new relationship. There’s obviously chemistry between Addie and Rowan but nothing happens between them and I appreciated that. When you’ve just been burnt by someone you thought you were in love with, it’s inadvisable to throw yourself at the next person you meet. It’s a shame that so many YA contemporary novels about heartbreak still fixate on this way of dealing with it.
I wasn’t aware that Love & Luck was a companion novel to Love & Gelato until I was already a fair way through the book, but having fallen in love with Welch’s writing style I’ve already bought the first book on my Kindle. I’ll hopefully get around to reading it sooner rather than later, because I know I’m going to fly through it just as quickly as I devoured this.