Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

Read for book club (10/2010) at Crystal Lake Public Library. This is my favorite book club read so far! I absolutely loved this book! This is the one that has stuck with me the most, out of anything I have read the last couple of years, but especially from the book club reads.

It is a fun, touching, sad, but spunky novel about an elderly couple's trip across country via the famous Route 66. The voice of the book is Ella who tells about her life as they travel from their home in Michigan to their final destination in California. It could be a sad book because the two of them are ill but instead the writer's voice is so good that I never once felt sad just thrilled from one page to the next.

Ella's husband John has Alzheimer's and as the book progresses we find out she is sick as well (cancer) but determined to have one great final trip no matter what happens. They used to take good old fashioned road trips with their children and she recalls some of these fondly for us. Other moments which should be sad are really funny, like when they are camped out for the night and they both somehow end up hitting the ground and cannot get up. Ella is a real spitfire and she makes a fantastic protagonist!

I learned a lot from reading this book about love, health, determination, and humor in the face of what is almost certain embarrassment and could easily become depressing. I was mad at her for the ending, and despite seeing it coming a mile away, I still wanted to turn those pages every minute. Our group had a fun time reminiscing about the good, bad, and ugly things that happened during road trips in our own lives; and thanks to our smart librarian, we all brought along some of our own road trip pictures to share on the day of our discussion which were really fun to look at!

I also got a little education about the American road and Route 66 in the process. There is a great greenhouse near my house that has these giant statues that I always wondered about because they seemed so odd (The Greenhouse of Crystal Lake). It turns out they are pretty common if you have traveled on or around Route 66. Apparently there were a plethora of Paul Bunyan statues along the way, and many of them were re-purposed by local businesses and used for their own signs, like the ones near me at the greenhouse of Paul Bunyan and an Indian Brave. That helped clear it up for me because I couldn't figure out why they had these bizarre and massive things where people go to buy their plants!
I seriously adored this novel and would recommend it to anybody who wants to reminisce about the good old fashioned family trips they had, to think about what it means to grow older with the love of your life, and how to do things your way every step along the journey of life, come what may!

And so it goes...
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