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Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard - Review

Friday, September 2, 2022

Where did I get it? I bought it at Northern YA Lit Fest in May and got it signed by Sara - we had a nice discussion and it was nice to meet her. 

What's it about? Peyton is seventeen years old and after some difficulties at college has decided to run away to Canada. Right at the beginning of the book she has emailed her parents and is on a flight to Vancouver. She arrives and checks into a hostel. Her parents are obviously angry but also worried about her, and want her to go home immediately. But she refuses.

Then in flashbacks we learnt what happened at college. While at school Peyton had literally no friends and was bullied mercilessly. So when she started sixth form she was determined to do better. She was determined to have friends, and in one class she ends up talking to Travis, Flick, and Eric. Flick and Eric are a couple and they have several friends from school that they're close with. Peyton becomes part of the gang and eventually starts going out with Travis, but the friendships are not exactly easy or happy ones. Peyton goes along with a lot of stuff that she's not happy with, but feels like she can't say no to, because she's so determined to keep her new friends. Everything goes terribly wrong, which happens only a few weeks before she heads off to Canada. This part of the story is told is bits and bobs throughout the book, which was a really good way of showing it and was a complete contrast to what was happening in Canda. 

Because, in Canada, Peyton is having adventures. She arrives with no real plan, but she quickly makes friends with some others staying at the hotel. They're Scottish lads Khalil and Beasey, a Russian guy whose name escapes me, a Germany girl called Maja, and two Swedes called Lars and Stefan. They all haven't met before (except the Swedes who are a couple, amd Khalil and Beasey who are travelling the world together) but they form a close bond and decide to travel to Vancouver Island together. They kind of mock Peyton for not having a plan, but she goes with them and has a good time. 

There's definite chemistry between her and Beasey, but after what happened with Travis Peyton is reluctant to get into another relationship. But he is very cute...

Oh and Peyton's grandfather just happens to live in Canada, and he's an artist like she is, but there's no way she'll go and see him, of course... 

Every time I read a book by Sara I look at it with different eyes than I do some books, and this is because I think my writing is quite similar to hers, and I look at what I would do with the story and characters. It's not a bad thing, I like doing this, and I think it was a massive compliment when my writing was compared to Sara's. We have similar set ups (for instance, Flick's family is poor and Peyton ends up paying for everything, which she later feels taken advantage of for) so I like to think critically about Sara's books. This one - I couldn't fault it. I loved Peyton and really felt for her, especially as I suffered bullying myself at school. I loved that she just took off and was determined to do things by herself. I loved the story and how it panned out. 

What age range is it for? 15+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Lars and Stefan, but it's not part of the story 

Are any main characters people of colour? Khalil, I'm guessing by the name, but it's not mentioned 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? I think it's fair to say that Peyton has some post traumatic stress stuff going on 

Is there any sex stuff? No, it's very fade to black 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, definite trigger warning here 

Is there any talk of death? No but there is some violence 

Are there swear words? A few 


What criticisms do I have? Almost none. It took me a few chapters to get into it but once I did I really wanted to know what would happen 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, it's definitely one for fans of Sara's, but I'd also say it's a really accessible one if you haven't read anything by her before. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I am so determined to read all those books I bought in Preston so I started with this one! 


What do I think of the cover? It's cute, it's quite unlike any others of Sara's books though. It's also maybe not as easy breezy of a book as the cover would indicate 

How many stars? Four out of five. I enjoyed it. 


Where is the book going now? I'll keep it because it's signed, of course!

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