Your Destination is on the Left
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published on June 26, 2018
About Your Destination is on the Left
Dessa Rhodes is a modern day nomad. Her family travels in an RV, their lives defined by state lines, exit signs, and the small communal caravan they call home. Among them is Cyrus, her best friend and long-time crush, whom she knows she can never be with. When your families are perpetually linked, it’s too dangerous to take a risk on romance.
Instead, Dessa looks to the future. She wants to be a real artist and going to art school is her ticket to success and a new life. There’s just one problem: she hasn’t been accepted…anywhere. Suddenly her future is wide open, and it looks like she’s going to be stuck traveling forever.
Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself: an internship working with a local artist in Santa Fe. Dessa struggles to prove to her boss—and herself—that she belongs there, but just as she finally hits her stride, her family suffers an unexpected blow. Faced with losing everything that she has worked for, Dessa has a difficult decision to make. Will she say goodbye to her nomadic lifestyle and the boy she loves? Or will she choose to never stop moving?
I liked that Dessa’s major goal wasn’t to find true love or be in a relationship. While romance is an important element of the story, Dessa’s real goal is to go to college and craft a future for herself. This creates some problems between her and her family as her parents want her to stay with them and continue traveling. It also strains her relationship with her best friend Cyrus, because he reads her desire for another life as a rejection of the life he’s chosen. So Dessa faces a difficult journey as she tries to find a way to do what she feels is best for her without hurting the people she loves most.
At one point, Dessa’s dad asks her to keep a secret from her mom. Dessa keeps the secret, but feels guilty about the lie and frustrated that her dad continues to lie to the family, too. I loved her relationship with her grandmother, who acts as a pillar of strength and a sort of home base for Dessa and her family. She doesn’t direct the story, but she sometimes serves as a mirror, reflecting Dessa’s true desires back to her sometimes without any words.
Dessa’s artwork also plays a major role in the story. I loved that. The descriptions of her artwork and the art of the woman who mentors her had me wishing for a studio and paintbrushes or a day at the museum.
On the whole, I liked the balance between Dessa’s dreams for the future, which she won’t compromise for a relationship that might only be for right now, and her relationships. I loved the way art was represented in and played a role in the story, too. Readers who liked Stacie Ramey’s The Sister Pact and How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras will want to check this one out.
Dessa’s family is Greek. Cyrus’s family is black.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used regularly throughout the book.
Kissing between boy and girl and tops removed. Dessa says they don’t have sex but come close.
Dessa’s grandmother is Greek Orthodox. There are a couple mentions of her going to church or passing mentions of her faith. At one point, she and Dessa plan to spend time alone together, and her grandmother says, it’s going to be her, Dessa, and the Lord.
Dessa throws a cup of beer in the face of a cruel boy.
Dessa drinks beer with a friend after they both sneak into a bar together, and later drinks champagne (provided by her grandmother) with Cyrus.