Blue-lit dusk falls soft over fields of rolling wheat, the stretching sky a blue so deep and dark that the remaining clouds seem black.

I love this time of day. It’s my favourite. Even the ugliest places in the world are beautiful under this soft blue light.

Although. The place we’re in front of might be the single exception.

I was fortunate to get an early copy of Poppy Nwosu’s latest contemporary romance for young adult (YA) readers published by South Australian small press, Wakefield Press.

Road Mapping with Pearl Nash is a contemporary Australian romance written in first-person for readers of young adult fiction

This is Nwosu’s third novel, and it is a sensitively written take on what it’s like to be heading into the last year of high school. Nwosu brilliantly captures the complexities of relationships, friendships, and family life. This is a novel less concerned with plot and more concerned with the intricacies of relationships. And it was this aspect of Road Tripping with Pearl Nash, along with Nwosu’s lyrical writing, that made this novel such an enjoyable read for me, and so different from many books written in this genre.

My five favourite things about this novel:

  1. I adored the strong sense of place in Road Mapping with Pearl Nash. Nwosu captured the harshness and wild beauty of the Australian bush throughout the story. Even though I read this in winter, I could feel the heat of the hot Australian sun.
  2. Pearl Nash was a relatable and flawed character. I loved her mix of vulnerability and strength.
  3. When Pearl picks up a fellow student at a remote petrol station, readers are introduced to Obi. Obi was born in Australia, but he is constantly asked where he is from because he has dark skin. In my opinion, this is a widespread experience in Australia, and it’s excellent how Nwsou uses this in the story to illuminate how people can be alienated or marginalised by skin colour alone. Throughout the novel, Obi and Pearl are on a journey together, a trip to find Pearl’s grandma and get Obi to an epic end of year party on the beach.
  4. Road Mapping with Pearl Nash is concerned with fractures in families and friendships, how they can be healed, and what it means to be home.
  5. I love a satisfying ending, and we are indeed given one in Road Mapping with Pearl Nash. The novel has just the right amount of tying things up while leaving plenty for the reader to reflect upon.

Road Mapping with Pearl Nash was a great read, and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoyed books such as It Sounded Better in My Head by Nina Kenwood and Sara Haghdoosti’s Sunburnt Veils.

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

The summer is finally here, and Pearl Nash is on a mission to save her slowly disintegrating friendship with a whirlwind end-of-year road trip that is definitely, absolutely, most positively going to solve all her problems.

Except, instead of her best friend Daisy’s feet on her dash, suddenly Pearl ends up stuck in the middle of the desert beside Obi Okocha, a boy with a mega-watt smile and an endlessly irritating attitude. Tasked with delivering him to the most epic end-of-year party ever, located in a beach shack in literal middle-of-nowhere woop woop, Pearl Nash is certain that nothing could be worse than this.

She’s wrong.

Add in a breakdown, multiple arguments, an AWOL nana and a kiss that was most definitely a huge mistake, and suddenly Pearl has the perfect ingredients for the perfect disaster.

Road Tripping with Pearl Nash is a story about home and family, about breaking apart and fusing together, and, of course, about love.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at Wakefield Press for giving me a copy of Road Tripping with Pearl Nash to read and review.