When awkward musical theater nerd, Sam, meets Rose at a party, he’s convinced they belong together. She’s perfect in every way, but he’s constantly worried he’ll lose her. He tries to be a good boyfriend, but he’s always getting things wrong. He could blame his abusive dad or even his best friend for sabotaging his relationship, but deep down he knows the truth: he’s not worthy. After all, he drove his mom away when he was ten.
Alcohol helps Sam cope. It also helps him push everyone away, making him more like his dad than he wants to admit. As Sam navigates his way through damaged friendships and a possible breakup, his past haunts him, forcing him to come to terms with truths he’s not ready to face.
Plot/Idea: Take Me With You poignantly documents young adult angst, the impacts of trauma, and absorbing relationships. The story follows a group of intimate friends and their lives, most notably 16-year-old Sam, who is walking the line between his abusive home life and common teenage conflicts. Along the way, Duddridge reveals the devastation of early childhood trauma played out interpersonally, and the effects of substance abuse on meaningful relationships. The novel draws readers in and keeps them invested in the outcome of the main characters, and readers who prefer realistic problems with happy endings will embrace this book.
Prose: Duddridge’s prose is remarkably clear and concise, and readers will devour the passages where she bares Sam’s heart and portrays his internal struggles. Dialogue flows naturally between the protagonists, with a contemporary and authentic feel, and the main characters have strong, distinct voices that will resonate with readers.
Originality: Although Duddridge depends heavily on certain conventions common to young adult fiction, the novel offers an unusually intense psychological reflection that expertly connects readers with the emotional battles of the main protagonist.
Character Development/Execution: Duddridge is accomplished with character development, and Sam shines as a tortured, lost protagonist desperately trying to right his wrongs. Kennedy is equal parts inspirational and frustrating in her passive acceptance of heartbreaking circumstances, but even these interactions come across as genuine for the intended audience. The author weaves the main players together in a nearly effortless dance that smooths the novel’s storyline.
Blurb: A moving coming-of-age story bursting with insight and authenticity.
Date Submitted: May 02, 2022