I wanted to take some time to sit with this book before writing this review, but I received an eARC in exchange for a review and the book is released at the end of the month so I am pressed for time. So, as a disclaimer, I will say that these are my fresh undeveloped thoughts, written an hour or so after finishing reading.
Take Me With You When You Go is described as a story of hope, siblinghood, and finding your home in the people who matter most, so I think I will break this review down into those categories.
The thing that I love about this book is that it is a sibling story above anything else. Bea has run away from her broken home, leaving behind only a secret email address to communicate with Ezra, her younger brother. The siblings have always had each other for solace when their home doesn’t feel safe, and that doesn’t change.
We learn about the entirety of their relationship from these emails, starting from the day Bea disappears. They exchange memories from growing up, more recent events that triggered Bea to leave, and she eventually finds out about events that occurred before Ezra was even born.
To me, a lot of this background information felt forced as I was caught up in what would realistically be written in an email. I understand why the authors chose this format as it makes the most logistical sense for the plot, but the infodumping written beneath an email address didn’t really work for me personally and quickly felt tiresome. It also removes a lot of the emotion from the moments that are being described as the characters are looking back on them with less connection. It made the side characters extremely disconnected from the story and two dimensional. I wanted to be with the characters rather than dwelling in their memories.
This point is specifically about Ezra rather than the theme of siblinghood but I’ve already committed to this format and don’t know where else to put it. I like that Ezra’s sexuality isn’t the focal point of the book. He’s gay, and there’s moments where he reflects on his first kiss and the realisation about his sexuality, and the book shows his relationship with his boyfriend, but the focus still remains on the siblings’ relationship and their home.
Finding Your Home
This book is an incredibly raw and honest portrait of parental abuse inflicted on the lives of the people they were supposed to keep safe. When Bea disappears, Ezra is left behind to deal with the fallout in addition to the regular emotional abuse he is experiencing.
As the abuse becomes increasingly physical, Ezra seeks an escape through Joe – Bea’s ex(?) boyfriend who is worried about her – and his boyfriend Terrence, who I believe is black and Christian. This book explores the dynamics of these new homes very well: refuge with someone who is almost doing it as a favour to someone they love, and safety with someone who is your found family. There’s also some scenes I adore where Terrence has to admit that Ezra is more than just his ‘special friend’, and how Ezra has to adapt to being part of Terrence’s family.
This is the part that has left me with so many mixed feelings about this book. In my opinion, there is very little hope until the final few pages when the book feels as if it has reached its conclusion. I almost wanted an epilogue that carried out some of the promises written in the final emails, but I don’t think it would make sense written in this format.
This lack of hope throughout the book dulled the impact of the emotional scenes: it’s very easy to become either overwhelmed or underwhelmed (or, in my case, both) with emotional scenes when they’re constant and there’s no lighter scenes to contrast or complement them. In many places, it felt like the story was dragging and wasn’t really going anywhere. The plot twists and big reveals and climaxes all felt the same as the siblings recounting the bland parts of their day.
Overall, I would give this book a 3.5 star rating. There were a lot of moments that caught my attention, but they were eventually overshadowed by a tiresome format and darkness that completely swallowed up the light.
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 stars)