Published by Macmillan Children's Books
Published on 15 April 2021
Genres: Adolescence, Social Issues, Young Adult
Source: my home library
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Sometimes you have to leave your life behind to find your place in the world.
After five years at secondary school spent without any friends, Peyton King starts sixth form college determined that things will be different. Whatever happens, she will make friends at any cost.
When she finds the friends she’s always dreamed of, including an actual boyfriend, she’s happier than she’s ever been.
But when they let her down in the worst way, Peyton is left no better off than when she started.
Now Peyton knows the only chance she has of finding happiness is to look for it somewhere else. Her life may feel small, but it doesn't have to be. With nothing but her sketchpad and a backpack, she buys a one-way ticket and gets on a plane. . .
I am mad at myself for waiting so long to dive into Destination Anywhere, but in my defence, the title and blurb are… not great. It’s downright misleading. The main character, Peyton, doesn’t just randomly buy the first plane ticket she can: she researches where she’s going and carefully chooses Canada. It’s a lovely title, but slightly misleading. Maybe it would have been better if it was Destination Anywhere But Here.
However, it was an absolute gem of a novel. From the moment I picked it up, I was swept away on a thoughtfully crafted journey filled with unexpected depth and heart-wrenching moments. And yes, I should have expected it, because Sara Barnard always makes me cry, without fail.
One of the standout elements is the extraordinary character development. Barnard pours her heart and soul into shaping Peyton, giving her a voice that resonated deeply with me. I was genuinely surprised by the emotional impact of certain scenes, particularly a seemingly harmless prank that unfolded in a way that absolutely shattered my heart. The level of investment and empathy I felt for Peyton truly speaks to Barnard’s exceptional ability to create relatable and nuanced characters.
Throughout the book, Barnard deftly explores the layers of Peyton’s past, unravelling her struggles with sensitivity and authenticity. The emotional depth and rawness of the narrative kept me engaged from beginning to end, provoking both tears and moments of profound reflection.
Barnard’s prose is beautifully crafted, with vivid descriptions that effortlessly transport readers into the heart of Peyton’s journey. There are also occasional sketches, which are supposed to be Peyton’s, and to be honest, they did really help me because I still wasn’t entirely sure what Barnard meant by ‘suspension bridge’ until I saw ‘Peyton’s sketch. The narrative flips back and forth between Peyton’s present-day adventure and her emotional past, with spot-on pacing, blending introspection and self-discovery with unexpected twists and turns that kept me eagerly engrossed. This was a book that I could have read in one day, but I did not want to. I wanted to savour it.
In conclusion, Destination Anywhere is a quieter book that took me by surprise. Barnard’s talent shines in every page, delivering a beautiful tale of self-discovery that surpassed my expectations. I loved seeing Peyton’s desire for independence blossom into resilience and maturity. I’m sad I put off reading this book for so long, but I may not have been ready to read it when it was first released. I’m really glad I have read it now, and Barnard continues to thoroughly impress me with every release.