As somebody who is unable to drive, and who has friends that refuse to learn to drive the only way I can get the “road trip experience” is vicariously through an excellent road trip novel. Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche is a stellar example of a road trip novel that balances a serious story with moments of light humour. I loved both of Una LaMarche’s previous YA novels, although it was the synopsis of Don’t Fail Me Now that compelled me to pick it up.
Don’t Fail Me Now follows Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny, who live in urban Baltimore; they are struggling to make ends meet as their mother is in jail. As for Michelle’s father, well that’s where her connection to another Leah is as they share the same biological father. Buck Devereaux is the biological father of Michelle, Leah, in addition to Cass. I thought that the book captures the unfortunate reality and desperation that those living in poverty feel in a way that feels real and not overly dramatic. What I enjoyed the largely though, was how Don’t Fail Me Now doesn’t shy away from issues of race, discrimination and how they are connected. Furthermore, tough topics are examined in Don’t Fail Me Now such as dysfunctional families, addictions, and abuse in a way that doesn’t sugarcoat the reality and consequences of people’s decisions.
In the end, Don’t Fail Me Now is by far my favourite of all the books that Una LaMarche has written. It’s both a heartbreaking and a heartwarming novel concerning family, and all types of love including an adorable romance in the book. And while the ending of the book was a satisfying conclusion, there were a few loose threads that are true to real life, in that there are no quick fixes to complicated situations and problems.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.