Ah, enemies-to-lovers, will I ever tire of you? I think not. And Eric Smith’s novel You Can Go Your Own Way is a great addition to your enemies-to-lovers TBR list.
Adam Stillwater is in over his head. He is struggling to keep his family’s pinball arcade afloat, the last physical reminder he has of his late father. All the while, he is battling to maintain the life of his old arcade pinball games and protect the arcade from the greedy hands of Philadelphia’s new tech mogul, who will turn it into just another eSports cafe. It doesn’t help when the son of said tech mogul destroys one of the Stillwaters’ arcade games.
Meanwhile, Whitney Mitchell’s personal life has gone topsy-turvy. Her boyfriend has dumped her, her parents have split up, and her friends are total flakes. Moreover, as the social media manager of West Philly eSports, she is dealing with the backlash of her brother’s actions and retaliating against Old City Pinball’s–Adam’s–online snippy remarks.
Then a huge snowstorm hits and Whitney and Adam are stranded together in the Stillwaters’ arcade. Trapped, the animosity and hurt between them eases, leaving something else behind.
Tropes that we can’t help but love
One of the tropes that I adore along with enemies-to-lovers is that of “forced proximity by means of being trapped together.” This could be when a couple gets stuck in a halted elevator, or in a project that requires them to be partners, or–in the case of You Can Go Your Own Way–in a snowstorm.
There is so much delicious tension that builds and builds, and experiencing the characters finally hashing out their issues, and realizing and accepting the full force of their actual feelings toward one another, is something that I will never tire of.
Yet, You Can Go Your Own Way primarily focuses on the theme of former friends coming back together and developing into something more.
Adam and Whitney were childhood friends, and remained best friends into their teenage years. However, when Adam’s father passed away, the two drifted apart, with Adam retreating into himself and Whitney focusing on her father’s new company. Hurt simmered between them until animosity burned bright.
While the “enemies/former friends to lovers” trope is widely adored, you cannot help but feel the pain of a lost friend (and perhaps something more?) from both Whitney and Adam in their early introductions.
The difficulty of letting go and finding your own way
Smith does a great job at depicting the difficult nature of letting go of something, especially if it is something you love or something you fiercely hope will lead to happiness. Adam cannot let go of his father’s arcade and of his legacy. Whitney cannot let go of her position as social media manager, desiring more than anything to be acknowledged by her father.
Both characters seemingly “go their own way” after their friendship ends, but they do not initially follow their rightful paths. Throughout the story, we come to understand that Adam’s true passion lies in electrical engineering and Whitney’s in horticulture. These are what makes them happiest; yet, both sacrifice their passions to cater to what they believe they need to be doing, not what they want or should be doing.
Smith takes us through Adam and Whitney’s journey not just in romance, but also in self-acceptance. They let go of what was anchoring them from where they should be, whether it was a positive or negative element of their lives.
It was a wonderful portrayal of how hard it is to let go of both positive and negative things in life, but how much more weightless you feel once you find your own path.
If you are looking for a good coming-of-age romance, Eric Smith’s You Can Go Your Own Way will surely keep you warm this winter, even in the midst of a snowstorm.
You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith was released on November 2nd, 2021.