My most recent read was a really fun book that combined a few of my favorite things. The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis is a science fiction road trip romantic comedy. Think ET meets It Happened One Night, with a touch of The X-Files. Though, given the title, she may be referencing the Hope/Crosby “Road” movies (but I’m not as familiar with those).
A woman visiting Roswell for her college roommate’s alien-themed wedding gets carjacked by an alien that looks like a sentient tumbleweed and ends up on a weird, random journey through the southwest, as the alien seems to be looking for something. Along the way, the alien grabs others who run across them, including a handsome hitchhiker, a conspiracy nut, a little old lady with a casino addiction and a retiree obsessed with old Western movies. They end up in the retiree’s RV as they figure out that the alien needs help and try to find a way to communicate so they can help.
I think Connie is one of the best at conveying what it’s like to be a reasonably level-headed person who’s surrounded by utter chaos and trying to make sense of it. Even though this story involves aliens, structurally it’s very much a classic screwball comedy. Much of the early part of the story involves the humans trying to figure things out and work together. As it goes along, it gets deeper into the science fiction aspects as they work on communication and then deal with the alien’s mission and the consequences of that mission. At heart, I think this is ultimately a book about kindness and empathy, about caring enough to be willing to look past the surface and understand what’s going on with someone.
Although it feels like a rom-com, the romantic element is very subtle and slow burn. It’s the kind of romance I like in a book, something that develops naturally along the way between people who are having to work together on something and who learn about each other as they go through a crisis together. For those who are worried, the heroine’s romance is not with the sentient tumbleweed alien. It involves one of the other abductees.
I think people who like my books might enjoy this for the wackiness, humor, heart, and dash of romance.