Based on a true love story

Click on the cover for a preview

Based on a true love story

Click on the cover for a preview

The year is 1974. Kyle Sands is a high school senior, looking for something to fill the emptiness in his life. A child of a divorced couple, he has only himself and his music to rely on.

Valerie Willard is a ninth-grade English teacher caged in an abusive, loveless marriage, looking for an escape.

When Kyle sees her for the first time, he knows she is what he has been looking for all his life.

When Valerie hears Kyle play his music, she knows her life will never be the same. But as she looks over her four lists, all the pros are under Kyle’s name, but there are also two cons, and they could destroy her.

The relationship is so wrong, so dangerous. Obstacles are everywhere, and no one thinks it’s right, including one person whose interference threatens their very lives.

 Reviews for Roadwork

   Roadwork is a novel about love between high school teen Kyle Sands and Valerie Willard, young teacher trapped in a passionless marriage. It is a story that is embedded in music, with notes about the threat and obstacles to the forbidden relationship that evolves between them. These elements will especially invite and attract music lovers who will relate to this special intersection between musical and personal attraction. The story takes place in the 1970s, and is steeped in the era's atmosphere. Drugs are commonplace, sex can be casual (even though the narrator admits that women can be complicated), and raging hormones drive many decisions, both good and bad. John Alvah Barnes, Jr. and Naomi Lynn Barnes do a fine job of crafting the social and personal interplays between various characters as the relationship evolves, for better or for worse, embedding the 1970s atmosphere into the story of a relationship that moves forward as Valerie meets Kyle's family and becomes a part of it. The problems of her past and his future often clash as Kyle finds himself increasingly involved in her personal life: "I wasn’t at all happy about her talking to her ex-husband. Well, technically he wasn’t an ex yet. She had talked about divorce, but she’d learned that she needed to live apart from him for at least six months before she could file." Her husband won't give her up easily...and neither will Kyle. From evolving threats and growth both individually and together through Kyle's music, which drives them both towards a goal and away from danger into unknown waters, Roadwork creates a compelling story of not just a forbidden love's evolution, but the process by which two disparate lives come together to form new goals. From student/teacher relationships and a musician's evolving new purposes to the intrigue created by threats that may or may not be interconnected, readers receive a moving journey of developing love and changes which probe the foundations of abuse and transformation. Readers with a special interest in recovery and growth situations and musician challenges will find Roadwork a realistic, moving psychological and social exploration.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer
Midwest Book Review
California Bookwatch


   John Alvah Barnes Jr and Naomi Lynn Barnes’s latest is an elegiac portrait of an unconventional couple exploring the nature of true love. It is 1974. Kyle is a high school senior, merely going through the motions of his school life. Still scarred by the divorce of his parents, Kyle tries to find solace in music. Valerie, stuck in a loveless, abusive marriage, is an English teacher. When they meet, the spark immediately flies for Kyle. But Valerie, despite finding Kyle attractive, is reluctant to act on her impulses, owing to the age difference between them and the fact that Kyle is a student in the school. But Kyle is one determined young eighteen-year-old, and he won’t take no for an answer. The authors’ writing is nuanced, and their larger-than-life characters shimmer: Kyle charms with his wit and steadfastness. The authors beautifully portray Kyle’s inner yearnings as well as his teenage angst, skillfully illustrating the subtle variations and manifestations of self-doubt. The best part of the authors’ writing is their exploration of Kyle’s persistent side, which despite all the hardships stays intact. Valerie, with her vulnerabilities and struggles remains an intriguing character throughout. At once dreamy and dramatic, the authors’ crisp prose beautifully gives soul to Kyle and Valerie’s love story as they capture the tension and excitement of the teenage Kyle, his attraction for the lovely Valerie, and how he is shaped by the divorce of his parents and his love for music. Valerie’s struggles to come out of her abusive marriage, all the while fighting to discover her own path is portrayed with conviction. The conflict in the plot not only comes from the dangerous situation that the couple finds themselves in but also from their anxieties over family’s approval, money, and career path. Throughout, the authors’ descriptive eyes lend beauty and authenticity to this intricate tale. Part autobiography and part fiction, the book has the pull of a mature romantic drama, and the authors’ deep understanding of the intricate framework of romantic relationships provides this story both authenticity and rationality. They evoke the 1970s eclectic music scene with skill and conviction, deftly capturing Kyle and his band’s raw, infectious energy. A meditation on both finding relevance and acceptance in the face of extraordinary circumstances and intricacies of love, this provocative tale isn’t one to be missed.

Tina S.
The Prairies Book Review

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