The Spark and the Drive by Wayne Harrison | Rating: ★★★★☆
When I received an ARC of this novel my first initial thought was that I love the title of it and I love that it’s something different from what I usually buy or receive. I couldn’t wait to crack into it because the promising storyline was very present in my mind and it looked to be a fun and thoughtful read, which is everything we can ask for in a good story.
It didn’t disappoint me and I definitely recommend checking it out on its release date: July 15th 2014. The Spark and the Drive draws us in with love, tragedy and betrayal. It offers us a reminder of first loves, first real experiences of adulthood and the life and times of a young man (Justin) who is, like most teenagers, searching for something real in his life. And we see the light in this kids life as he gains experience with working side by side with one of the best mechanics.
Friendships bloom and romance falls into place. Broken homes are explored in depth. Decisions are made and hearts are broken — perhaps not in the way you’d think. And by the end of this novel, it will have destroyed you in the best of ways.
Harrison brings you into this world with great detailing and a thoughtful narration. He shows us a setting in the 1980s, but doesn’t let the setting cross into what the story really means. Seeing as the novel takes place with the world of auto repair, you may learn a little bit about cars and you certainly don’t have to be interested in mechanics to enjoy this story. There are many plot points within this piece of work that may have gone sour by any other writer, but Wayne Harrison does a beautiful job at stirring it all together and not letting one simple thing define the story.
He shows us a great heart in our narrator as well as the woman he desires: Mary Ann and his mentor, Nick. You want to root for Justin even in the hours in which he doesn’t do the best of things and you grow to love him, truly, by novels end. Justin’s relationship with Mary Ann plays a major part in the story, but I think that Justin’s caring nature for his younger sister April is what makes Justin’s story have all the more heart.
I liked the complexities within the relationships in the story: Justin’s struggles with his mother, his romance with Mary Ann in spite of all the toxic qualities, Mary Ann and Nick’s marriage and their losses. I loved that Mary Ann wasn’t the typical love interest — there was quite a bit to her character that made her believable and someone that I came to wish the best for, even though the ending and her actions let me down.
She is truly a character that comes to life before your eyes and you care deeply for. And there is something incredibly relatable about a character such as her; which is something that is sometimes missing in literature penned by men.
Some people may see this book as nothing new or special and that is something I can understand. A young man finding his way is certainly nothing new in novels of today and yesterday, however, there is something very special about this one. It’s unique and easy to fall into these pages where the world is vivid and thoughtful.
And in all honesty, there was rarely a moment in the pages that I wasn’t fond of. Flaws? Sure, there were a few and there were some moments I felt had something more that needed to be said; the thing is it was still an incredibly captivating read.
Genuinely, this was an absolutely well thought out story that hit all the right marks for me. I can see this becoming a hit amongst readers and non readers alike. And I would recommend this book to anyone and I’m positive that one will devour this beautiful, poetic novel.
These characters, this world and these relationships, will stay with you for quite a long time afterwords. I couldn’t put this novel down and now I can’t stop thinking about it. And that ending, my Gods, that ending! I felt as though my heart broke in two, but this isn’t a bad thing.