Book Review: Together We Will Go, by J. Michael Straczynski

Together We Will Go,

by J. Michael Straczynski

Publication: Gallery/Scout Press; July 6, 2021


Mark Antonelli, a failed young writer looking down the barrel at thirty, is planning a cross-country road trip. He buys a beat-up old tour bus. He hires a young army vet to drive it. He puts out an ad for others to join him along the way. But this will be a road trip like no other: His passengers are all fellow disheartened souls who have decided that this will be their final journey—upon arrival in San Francisco, they will find a cliff with an amazing view of the ocean at sunset, hit the gas, and drive out of this world.

The unlikely companions include a young woman with a chronic pain sensory disorder and another who was relentlessly bullied at school for her size; a bipolar, party-loving neo-hippie; a gentle coder with a literal hole in his heart and blue skin; and a poet dreaming of a better world beyond this one. We get to know them through access to their texts, emails, voicemails, and the daily journal entries they write as the price of admission for this trip.

By turns tragic, funny, quirky, charming, and deeply moving, Together We Will Go explores the decisions that brings these characters together, and the relationships that grow between them, with some discovering love and affection for the first time. But as they cross state lines and complications to the initial plan arise, it becomes clear that this is a novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it. The final, unforgettable moments as they hurtle toward the decisions awaiting them will be remembered for a lifetime.

*My Review*

I have said this before, but I cannot believe I let this gem sit on my NetGalley shelf so long before picking it up. Before I even begin, this is easily one of my top three reads of the year and definitely falls into my top ten ever. As the blurb states, Mark has bought an old bus and hired Dylan to drive it while he picks people up across the country that are wanting to end their lives. Each person has different reasons for wanting to take this trip, which we artfully get bits and pieces of throughout their journey either through journal entries, texts, audio recordings, or face-to-face conversations. Karen has been living with a debilitating pain disorder her entire life. Tyler has a heart condition causing his skin to be blue. Lisa is bipolar/manic depressive. Vaughn is a widower with a ton of guilt. Shanelle has been fat-shamed and bullied her entire life. Zeke has a dying cat that has been the only thing to depend on in his life filled with a constant cocktail of drugs. Then there’s Theo, Peter, Jim, and Teresa who also round out this unlikely group. 

This is not just a depressing bus trip across the country for everyone to drive off of a cliff. This is a fascinating look into the minds of these characters which, honestly, prompts a hell of a lot of self-reflection. There were a few times I thought to myself, “that’s no reason to want to kill yourself” before stopping to think that everyone on earth sees and feels things differently. On the other hand, there were characters whose stories were heart-wrenching and I found myself understanding some of their motivation behind joining this bus trip. Regardless of their reasons or situations getting them to that bus, I absolutely adored these characters. 

A huge takeaway from this novel, at least for me, is that no matter how bad life may seem, when you find your people, your tribe, or however you want to phrase it – anything is possible. Did everyone get their happy ending? It depends on how you look at it. But every single person on that bus was forced to take a hard look at their lives, what they wanted, and what they no longer wanted. It was amazing how powerful it was simply for these people to let go of their old lives. Just when they thought they had reached rock bottom and there was no hope, all it took was a bus full of new people. 

Straczynski has blown me away with this novel. The development of the plot and characters along with the never-ending surprises, made this incredible from beginning to end. I loved everything about this book and it will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Purchase Together We Will Go on Amazon!


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