Two sisters, a broken heart, one road trip through America that will change everything. Here’s my honest review of No Alcohol Beyond This Point, by J.B. Teller.
Get ready to put your feet on the dash, turn up the music, and travel in a 1969 Mini Cooper with two witty, laugh out loud sisters in this romantic comedy. A heart-warming tale of misadventures, music, soul-searching, love, and a rescue dog named Lone-Lee.
First of all, the title of this book is the best thing ever. It’s captivating and made me want to read this book on the spot. I requested No Alcohol Beyond This Point expecting a fun and surreal story, and the premise didn’t disappoint, since it begins with Mar seemingly drunk on the floor of her sister’s house with pieces of cupcakes in her hair. It piqued my curiosity: what was going on? What made her end up like that?
And that’s where the problems started for me. What followed was a huge digression into Mar and Joan’s childhood-to-adult life. It was distracting and made me want to quit reading more than once, because I couldn’t understand why it was important to know all that. I’m all for story economy —it moves the plot forward? Awesome. It doesn’t? No need to read it—, so I struggled. A lot. It’s a real pity in my opinion, because this novel has potential.
Once the digression is over, the story gets interesting and packed with good actions, kindness and very lucky coincidences. It’s sweet and fun in a childish way, the perfect book for you if you live, laugh, love and believe in good-hearted people and positive vibes.
Mar and Joan’s relationship is adorable: they’re there for each other, they root for each other, and they really have huge hearts. They do a lot of good deeds, from rescuing an adorable puppy to helping out an old lady in need, which puts them on a path toward their happy endings. That’s great, because both of them deserve to find their happiness. And to grow up a little.
They do, by the way, turning into a better, less childish and less codependent version of themselves.
While the growth is there, No Alcohol Beyond This Point doesn’t follow what I’d define a standard structure. It’s more of a journey, one that leads you to see beautiful places and interesting people. Because of this, it kinda reminded me of Nomadland at times, but without the nostalgia and heartbreak.
If I have to be honest, I struggled with all the good feelings. I’d have wanted to read more tension, because, as it is, it wasn’t enough to make me root for the sisters. Them acting like teenagers at their first crush around the men they like didn’t help much, nor did the fact that Joan falls in love quickly even after her whole life’s been shattered into pieces. As someone who’s been married for years, I know it’d take me a long time to heal enough to even think about liking someone else if my marriage crumbled.
That said, I believe No Alcohol Beyond This Point is a cute story if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief.