ROAM by Erik Therme

roamYoung woman has a terrible, ego-involved boyfriend.  Hopes to have a fabulous 21st birthday night.  Car trouble strands them on a dark deserted road out of cell phone service.   Young woman learns exactly what kind of guy he really is.  Young woman then stalks off to find help.

Kevin, a high school senior, and aspiring writer, spends the nights driving around, hoping to pay forward kindnesses received, trying to exorcise the effects of an abusive father.  He keeps a set of clothes in his car, hoping for a reason, any reason, to leave town forever.

Sarah, the young woman, having blown off all her friends for the last three months in favor of the new boyfriend, decides she will find a way to get to the next town where her one true friend lives, Scotty.  Although they haven’t spoken in maybe over a year, or more, she is sure he will be there for her.

Kevin comes across Sarah and offers her a ride.  She accepts.  Why?  Because we all at some point make some pretty dumb decisions.  She just got lucky on this one.  Kevin explains about his pay it forward thing, and that apparently tonight, she is it.  So he will take her anywhere she wants to go. He tells her it is fine, he will take her to find her friend.

Meanwhile, in an intersecting thread, we are introduced to Scotty, who turns out to be something of a problem, who has been living with his brother, having been tossed out of his mother’s home. They no longer speak.  The father is dead.   But because of his slovenly ways, sister-in-law is anxious to get him off of their couch and out of their home, too.

Scotty actually has no job, and hangs around his so-called girlfriend (see what I did there?) on her night shift job at the sleezy possibly hot pillow hotel in town.  He is lost, sure that something is broken inside him.

Sarah is not exactly sure where Scotty lives, and through a series of events, like a trail of crumbs, and due to the lateness of the hour,  finally gives up and gets a room in that same hotel,where the two story threads come together, and  where she attracts the ire of the girlfriend who thinks that Sarah and Scotty might be a thing.   While in the hotel, Kevin comes to the room with Sarah and they have a revealing and touching conversation.

There seems to be someone hiding in the hotel, around the pool area, and the desk receives several complaints about this.  Guess who it turns out to be?

I really loved this character-driven chiaroscuro tale of love and hope, right up to this point…

— spoiler alert—

Honest to goodness, the lovely story closes, and…..  it is two other people talking about the story and whether it will be picked up by a major market publisher.  OMG.  How awful.  A story about a story.  I hate those.  I felt totally played.

I really like the work of this author, and you can see what I thought of another book of his that I read here — Mortom.






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