Thursday, January 25, 2024

Book Review: The Breakup Tour

By Sara Steven

A rising-star musician has a second chance at love with an old flame she remembers all too well in this swoony romance from the acclaimed authors of The Roughest Draft .

Riley Wynn went from a promising singer-songwriter to a superstar overnight, thanks to her breakup song concept album and its unforgettable lead single. When Riley’s ex-husband claims the hit song is about him, she does something she hasn’t in ten years and calls Max Harcourt, her college boyfriend and the real inspiration for the song of the summer.

Max hasn’t spoken to Riley since their relationship ended. He’s content with managing the retirement home his family owns, but it’s not the life he dreamed of filled with music. When Riley asks him to go public as her songwriting muse, he agrees on one he’ll join her in her band on tour.

As they perform across the country, Max and Riley start to realize that while they hit some wrong notes in the past, their future could hold incredible things. And their rekindled relationship will either last forever or go down in flames. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I wouldn’t say I’m a self-professed Taylor Swift fan, although I do like some of her songs. One of my favorites is “Illicit Affairs.” I had a feeling from about a few chapters into The Breakup Tour that the story of Riley Wynn very much mirrored the same depiction of Taylor Swift and her penchant for taking doomed relationships and writing songs about them. It was an interesting perspective, given that what we see on the surface of the media frenzy is often just that–the surface. We don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, or what life is really like for a woman who is revered so much that she has her own Swiftie following. What would it be like for a megastar when she’s given the chance to reconnect with the first real love of her life? Would it be a worthy enough experience to write a song about it?

Riley is unapologetically Riley. Love her or loathe her–much like her true-to-life counterpart–she knows who she is and isn’t afraid to use it. So much so, that she finds herself writing a hit song about her former flame, Max. There had been a time when the two of them felt destined for fame, together. But right at the last moment, Max bowed out, intent on fulfilling family duties, a potential ploy to steer clear of the limelight, considering he doesn’t seem the type to thrive in that kind of environment. Not like Riley. The two characters are such contrasting opposites, but it works for them. Max helps to center Riley, while Riley helps Max to step outside of the confines of his comfort zone, showing him that there is a deeper greatness and depth to him just waiting to claw its way out. 

What ensues is a potential love disaster waiting to happen. There is too much history there. And, it doesn’t help that Riley in a sense is using Max as a way to get back at her ex-husband. If diverting the public’s opinion that Riley’s lead single isn’t at all about her ex, but about Max instead, it could really be a win for Riley. But it will only add insult to the damaged past that is Riley and Max’s relationship. I can’t recall right now which character said it–it was Max or Riley’s mother–but at one point, it was suggested that instead of Riley thinking she has to create damaged relationships to write heartbroken songs, that she is the one who is in charge of her life. That she’s the one who can choose what she wants to create. I do know her mother said, “I’d like to see you write a love song,” and I wholeheartedly agree. 

The Breakup Tour was a literal lyrical read. So much of it focused on the musicality of life and relationships, and I really loved that style of writing. There were moments that had long pauses of reflection, which meant more introspective thoughts vs. dialogue, and I feel as though I would have liked to see more dialogue between characters. But other than that, it flowed well and I appreciated the point the story tried to make–that sometimes, there’s more depth to a story than the song that has been written about it. Has Riley’s story helped to convert me into a Swiftie? Probably not. But I still had a lot of fun reading it. It was a great read!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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