When Becca’s dad is involved in a serious accident, Riley vows to do whatever he can to help her. As her family packs up their motor home and takes off to be with her dad, he watches helplessly as she leaves him behind. A call asking for help is all it takes to send Riley on a journey after her. But then his car breaks down and Riley finds himself stranded with only one option: to call the father who abandoned him for fortune and fame as a pro surfer. Determined not to let his dad back into his life, Riley plans on keeping his head down and focusing on what matters: making it to Becca’s side. But the long journey isn’t without its own ups and downs, and Riley has to admit that there’s more to his dad than he wanted to credit him with. The two hammer out their differences as they cross state lines, making their way toward Becca’s family and the girl Riley hopes to make his future with.
At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like this book. The pro surfer thing didn’t really resonate with me, and I worried that it would be kind of too feel-good or obnoxiously clean or something. While the writing is very clean, I found the story to be largely authentic. I liked that Riley finds value in Becca and wants to protect her, even from things he thought were okay in his own past. Honestly, I liked Riley, period. I liked his dad and Saul, too. I thought Saul made a great third wheel and really brought some humor and warmth to the story in some of its harder moments.
I loved that Riley connected with not only Becca but her larger family, too. In my own life, my parents were kind of those sort of people, where our home was a place our friends liked to be, and their connections went beyond my sister and me to include my parents as well. That model definitely resonates with me as an authentic expression of Christianity, so I enjoyed that part of To Get to You, even though it was a smaller, less central element.
Overall I found this book to be a great clean read with a strong spiritual center. It’s the first time I’ve read anything by Joanne Bischof, but I’d definitely read other novels she’s written. To Get to You is a 2016 Christy Award finalist, an honor I think is well-deserved.
Riley makes some oblique references to his past dating experience, stating that he probably owes some girls an apology. We never get specific details about what happened, but we definitely sense his shame and how foreign Becca’s family’s strict rules are.
Riley has a mentoring relationship with a local pastor who holds him accountable. Riley thinks a lot about wanting to treat Becca right according to the guidelines her conservative Christian parents set for her.
Brief references to the fact that Riley used to smoke.