The economic crash has sent Vincent Stevens life on a downward spiral. No longer able to afford his high-end lifestyle and trophy girlfriend, he retreats to his childhood home and village — the place Vincent thought he’d left for good. Determined to return to his successful London life, he begrudgingly settles into the mundane existence of familial obligations and small-town living.
When Vincent meets the eccentric Sarah Penny, he finds himself thrown further off balance. She doesn’t fall for his suave ways or carefully constructed façade and isn’t afraid to call him out on either. As he starts giving Sarah driving lessons and spending time with her, they forge a unique friendship and Vincent comes to question everything he values.
The Girl at the End of the Road brims with potential but unfortunately does not deliver. K. A. Hitchins tackles an often overlooked yet important issue — autism. I loved Sarah’s character. Her genuine and straightforward manner drew me and left me wanting to know more about her. While most viewed her as strange, damaged, and even to be pitied, Sarah possessed a clearer outlook and grasp of the truly important things in life.
My struggle came with Vincent. While Hitchins did a great job portraying him as shallow and materialistic, he had no redeeming qualities, which made him an unsympathetic and unlikable character. His supposed turn of heart didn’t come until the last fifty pages, but it wasn’t developed in a believable way. Throughout the entire novel, Vincent’s interest in Sarah didn’t come across as sincere. She presented a challenge. He wanted her because he didn’t like hearing no. He proved this further by stalking Sarah. Even after Vincent claimed that he accepted people different than himself, he showed otherwise in his total rejection and horrid treatment of Sarah’s “strange” friends. Considering he’s the protagonist and narrator, it made it difficult for me to get into the story.
At the end, the revelation of Vincent and Sarah’s supposed budding childhood love came out of nowhere and felt tacked on to justify a potential relationship between them in the present day. I finished the book feeling that Sarah had lowered her standards and sold herself short.
The large number of exclamation marks continually yanked me out of the plot. Told with a different protagonist or point of view, this might have been a really nice story. However, as is, I cannot recommend The Girl at the End of the Road.
Review copy provided by the author. Thanks!