Trust, love and forgiveness in Katie McGarry’s “Long Way Home”

Katie McGarry is known for her beautiful, romantic young adult novels that inspire us, make us brave and give us hope. Her plots are both enchanting and riveting, making us unable to put the book down; her characters are charming and true to themselves, even if they appear to be misunderstood. McGarry writes epic love stories that remind us that all is not lost, and she did not disappoint in her newest and long awaited novel, Long Way Home.

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

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Long Way Home is McGarry’s third novel in her Thunder Road series, with talk of a fourth book coming early 2018. One thing that I loved about this novel was how independent our 17/18-year-old protagonist, Violet, is. Where she sees the other women in her father’s motorcycle club are treated as objects owned by their men, she wants to be loved and respected for the woman that she is.

There is nothing wrong with someone you love claiming you as theirs, but the difference lies when they start treating you as though you belong to them. We each belong to ourselves, it’s just that the ones we love own our hearts. and I think it is an incredibly brave thing for Violet to stand up and say, in front of many older and highly respected men in a motorcycle club, that she wants to be treated as an equal.

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Long Way Home is a story of love and compassion and teaches us a lot about trust and forgiveness. Whilst progressing through the novel I felt as though McGarry was trying to teach us about some of the most important things that we learn as young adults: We need to forgive the people who have wronged us, and even more than that, we can’t keep everyone at arms length all the time, sometimes we need to trust the ones we love with our secrets.

Forgive and forget. That’s what they say. It’s good advice, but it’s not very practical. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. When someone wrongs us, we want to be right. Without forgiveness old scores are never settled. Old wounds never heal, and the most we can hope for is that one day we can find a way to forgive, or that one day we’ll be lucky enough to forget.

Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Not only to make the other person to feel good, but to heal you.

It isn’t until nearly halfway through the novel when Violet starts to forgive the people who have, albeit unintentionally, hurt her. She begins forgive them once she realises that she doesn’t hate them, because she knows that they do the things she doesn’t like that can get her hurt, because it’s the way the love. She says:

“How can you fully hate someone who does all the stupid things because that’s the way he loves?”
— Katie McGarry, Long Way Home

Violet also starts to learn to trust the one boy she’s pushed away for years but loves more than almost anyone, Chevy. After fearing he would end up breaking her heart by putting the motorcycle club first and before her, she pushed him away at arms length. But she soon sees that she needs him and relearns to trust him because she still loves him.

He asks her:

“Do you trust me?”
Of course I did. Trusted him to be the first boy to hold my hand. Trusted him to be the first boy I kissed. Trusted him to be the first for so many things.
— Katie McGarry, Long Way Home 

We can’t always keep everyone at arms length, sometimes we need to trust the people who love us. At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don’t keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy, that’s how we’re made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. Here’s what I know: if you’re willing to throw caution to the wind and take a chance, the view from the other side… can be spectacular.

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