A sad and profound book, but with such an important message! Two lost souls embark on a trip to Washington State, where she wants to pursue a career at Bezyr College and he’s carrying out his late grandmother’s last request: to take a road trip to Seattle and visit several sites along the way. From the start, I recognized that Emery suffers from depression. I didn’t know if it was caused by the loss of his grandmother or from illness and I was very curious to find out.
Cooper is just living. She’s working at a diner, passing time until she can save enough money and get accepted at the college she applied to in Seattle, Washington. She lives in a trailer with her parents, one is a drug addict, the other an alcoholic. They are irresponsible and hateful to her. She’s just waiting for her acceptance letter and will leave Mobile, Alabama forever. Her only friend in town is Tammy, who is a friend and surrogate mother, works at the diner with her, knows about her plans and aspirations, and fully supports her.
One day, this young man appears at the diner. Sandy blond hair, honey colored eyes, two lines between his eyes that don’t mean anger or sadness. Cooper is transfixed by him. She serves hims and he surprises her with the question: What makes you happy? She’s nonplussed and has no answer. She asks him where he’s from and where he’s going and when he mentions he’s going to Washington state, she mentions her plans and he invites her to go with him.
After nixing the idea as crazy, Emery leaves the diner and Tammy convinces Cooper to go, that this is the chance she’s been waiting for all her life, or else she will keep on just existing and her parents will suck her dry. So she leaves, even thought she’s not very convinced he’s not a serial murderer or kidnapper.
The trip from Alabama to Seattle is a beautiful story of this guy who suffers from depression but who is complying with his grandmother’s request. Some days he’s sociable, other days he’s mute. He’s constantly writing in a leather journal and tells Cooper he’s doing it because his grandma asked him to. She tries to make him open up to her but he remains reticent about his family and his motives. As days go by, and she gets more intrigued by him, she succumbs to curiosity and starts to read his journal. She wants to help him and believes if she knows what is the matter with him, she could help him.
Initially, I repudiated her actions because it was a blatant breach of privacy, but as the story continues, I understood that her actions were important in bringing him about. With intuitive knowledge, she gives him hope and happiness, even though there were days when the darkness captured him and didn’t let him go for a while.
I loved reading about the depression because the author wrote with such reality. I also loved that she made the guy suffer from depression instead of the girl. Sometimes, when a woman says she suffers from depression, people will say that she’s hormonal. That can’t be true if the guy suffers from it. So in making Emery depressive, it adds more leverage to the story. I also think that Cooper helped him a lot when she shares about her lost leg and the way she dealt with it. His admiration for Cooper made him try harder to overcome the darkness. Cooper had a dog called Kalo and they both took care of her. I found her to be like a therapy dog for Emerson, except when he was deep into an episode. I hope this book helps people learn about depression and understand that this is a real sickness, not a whim or passing sadness. Emery’s parents didn’t deal correctly with his illness, dismissing the reality and the seriousness.
Apart from the serious message, it was a beautiful love story, fraught with difficult moments but also moments where the joy of life felt by Cooper brought clarity to Emerson. The fact that Cooper practiced yoga daily was another master touch in suggested therapy for depression. Emerson’s love for Cooper and the acceptance and love she gave him took him on a new road. Depression may not be cured, but with different therapies and medication, and with the acceptance and love of important people in the person’s life, it can be handled, and quality of life can be achieved. That was a great message in this book.
At the end of their trip, Cooper finally answered Emery’s question What Makes You Happy? And her answer was beautiful and full of life. Emery found someone who understood him and loved him, and Cooper found life, vibrant life.