For Jamie, the exploration is about a motherless girl searching for approval and acceptance, which is why she is so willing to follow the lead of her cousin Fawn, who has ended up in Moline, Illinois because she is trouble personified. Fawn’s version of the events that brought her to Illinois casts her in the most positive light possible. And to Jamie, who has been shunted back and forth between relatives after her mother Suzette took off one day years before, Fawn’s behavior may send up red flags, but she is ill-equipped to interpret the signs.
A Ticket to Ride: A Novel (P.S.) alternates between Jamie’s point of view and her Uncle Raymond’s, and as we follow the story arcs of the two characters, the picture fills in and presents the full story. Each chapter is titled with songs from the era, and sometimes, I could almost hear the music lilting in the background.
As the summer draws to a close, these two young girls seeking excitement have stumbled upon a whole world of trouble and tragedy.
As Jamie is trying to sort out and understand what has happened, she and her uncle finally sit down to talk, and in a few moments of soul-searching honesty, Jamie learns the whole saga about her mother and what happened so long ago. Examining the realities of the past and revisiting the moments of one hot summer full of errors in judgment, Jamie will finally begin to discover her place and her identity.
The characters are multilayered, with all the facets of real people trying to make sense of their lives, the choices they’ve made, and the possibilities that are left for them. Four stars for an insightful story that, while it may not be for everyone, is a relevant coming-of-age tale set during a unique time in history.