WHEN WE WERE YOUNG

Years ago, in their teens, Joel Thompson and Theo Hern promised each other that one day they would walk the entirety of the Thames Path together. Now, about to turn 30, they haven’t spoken in years and are in very different places in life. Theo moved back to his parents’ house after having a quarter-life crisis, and they’ve just served him an eviction notice a week before his 30th birthday. Joel, in London, has been doing extremely well—impressive career in television, loving relationship with his high school sweetheart—except for one piece of news he’s just received. Wanting to make things right with his old friend, Joel shows up on his doorstep on the morning of Theo’s birthday, imploring Theo to finally walk the Thames Path together. Despite his reluctance and the still-fresh pain from their past, Theo meets Joel at the trailhead and the walk begins. Along the way, old wounds will be reopened, but maybe that way they can finally heal. Writing with both great humor and heart, Roper has a light touch that keeps the reader laughing even while he gently pulls on the heartstrings. Theo and Joel have hurt each other in the past, and their history of miscommunication and trauma feels incredibly real, but their longing for reconnection and nostalgia for what they once were also shines through. Even in hard moments, there is an element of farce, especially in scenes when Joel, Theo, and Joel’s girlfriend, Amber, play around with who knows what secret. Although the end might not land with everyone, the story of two friends finding each other again will resonate with most.

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