Bend in the Road

Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419748738.
Gr 9 Up–Soon to be 18, Gabe finds himself heading to Minnesota to hide from the paparazzi after living in Los Angeles and striking out on the release of his second music album. His plan is to live on the family farm that is being taken care of by Juniper Blue. Juniper gets wind that Gabe is supposed to inherit the farm on his next birthday, and she must come up with a plan to stop him from selling it. While the two are far from getting along, she finds herself falling for him, which is not her plan as the differences between them seem to put them at odds. Told in alternating perspectives, Biren’s novel is set in the Midwest and is a slow simmer. What appears to be a novel about farming and gardening turns out to focus on relationships and grief. Readers who are musically inclined will appreciate the side story of Gabe’s rocky music career. The characters, who are light skinned, are likable and complex in this heartwarming romance that slowly develops between Juniper and Gabe, who seem to have realistic differences.
VERDICT Fans of Sarah Dessen will find this novel appealing and will reach for others written by Biren.

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