Monday, August 31, 2009

The Route - Gale Sears

Summary: Zipping along life's highway . . . Fifty makes you think. Thirty makes you morose, and forty makes you panic, but fifty makes you think. Half a century, and what is my life? Does it resemble anything I dreamed at sixteen, or expected at twenty, or hoped at twenty-five? What am I doing here? . . . I thought of climbing to the top of a high mountain in Tibet to consult a wise man, but I like vacations where there is indoor plumbing and vegetation. Since I already attended church, I thought perhaps I could pay closer attention. Maybe I'd been missing a great fundamental truth. Well, come to find out, I had been missing something. . . . Carol, a middle-aged wife and mother, is pondering the meaning of life. On a trip to the grocery store to find some energizing dark chocolate, she sees a sign asking for volunteers to deliver meals to the elderly. When Carol decides to take a chance and help out, she¹s in for a life-changing and route-altering‹ experience. (summary from - image from walnutsprings press)

Here at Reading For Sanity, we are of several minds (and ratings) on this book. Here’s three opinions from three reviewers who are at different places in their lives.

Chris’s Review: I loved this book! It drew me in on the very first page and didn’t let go of me until the last. I found myself riding along with Carol as she delivered meals, getting to know and love the people she delivered the meals to, and feeling the emotions she felt as she got to know each person. The names on Carol’s delivery list became more than just names to her (and me), they became real people with amazing lives.

The author did what a good author is supposed to—she made me feel like I was part of the story that was unfolding. I laughed at what “old age” sometimes makes people say, I cried because of all the sadness and loneliness in their lives, I felt anger at the way some of their children treated them and I even felt guilt (mostly because I have and 86 year old mother and a sister who lives in an assisted living center). The characters ranged from kind, gracious and loving people living in nice, but humble homes, to ornery people living in trailers or run down apartments. Their stories were all different but in the end they all needed what Carol could and did give them---LOVE.

My Rating: 5+ Stars

Sum It Up: I was telling people about this book before I’d even finished it. I would recommend it to anyone. It was a wonderful read!

Emily's Review: I was intrigued by the summary of this book. It looked to be a nice read with the possibility of introspection and occasional bits of wisdom. And gratefully, that is what I got.

I appreciated that this was a book about a fifty-year-old woman, written by someone…ahem, who I would guess is about that age as well. The introduction of the book explains that this is a novel based on the author’s similar experience. Because of its basis in reality it has a perfectly plausible “plot” (really more of a collection of moments and events), and the authors thoughts and reasons for starting this volunteer experience are those I could imagine myself having. Okay, so actually I have thought these things (minus the being fifty part) and even looked up the meals-on-wheels in our area.

The narrator of the story serves a group of people that I found as fascinating as she did. As I read of her interactions with them I felt like I got to know them just as she did. Introducing the reader to these people is the point of the story and the part I most enjoyed.

This book fits in the category of “what I’ve learned in my life” memoirs (I’m assuming its mostly true, even though billed as a novel) and functioned best under that role when simply telling the story. It was less successful when the author pointed out “what had been learned,” generally by using (over-using) the phrase “I made a mental note to…” I could have done without nearly every “aside” of this type; they watered down the message by taking away my own incentive to try and seen the meaning in the stories she told.

My Rating:
3.5 stars – Worth reading, not life changing.

Sum it Up:
A nice read with the possibility of introspection and occasional bits of wisdom.

Heather’s Review: Gale Sears begins her novel, The Route, in a uniquely captivating manner. It almost seems like the narrator of the story, Carol, is writing a letter to the reader about what it feels like to turn fifty after spending life as a SAHM when all the children have left home. Carol speaks in a witty manner about filling the void in her life, quickly drawing the reader in. Unfortunately the book quickly loses momentum in the next chapter as the story turns from an amusing narrative of one lively lady’s life to a chronicle of her volunteer experiences with brief glances into the lives of the seniors she delivers meal to. Carol loses her substance and charm, becoming a character that merely exists on Thursdays (her volunteer day).

I longed for more detail into Carol’s life and felt that this lack of information left Carol a one-dimensional character.I would not consider this novel especially thought provoking, however it did contain quite a few enjoyable antedates and quotes worth a minute or two of pondering. The story overall, while leaving much to be desired, did a good job of showing the benefits of volunteering from both the receiving side and the giving side. It left me longing to be of more service to others.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars, I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t find it as enjoyable as many of the books I have given 3 stars to.

Sum it up: A quick and mildly entertaining glance into the power of volunteering and the beauty of age.


Available at Amazon or Deseret Book.

Don't forget to check out Gale's blog or Walnut Springs Press blog for more great book suggestions.

Would you like to win a free autographed copy of this book?!?! Just comment on this review and you'll be entered to win.


Melissa Paul said...

What I love most about Reading For Sanity is getting the flavor of a book from the contributors. Also I've kind of figured out the ones that have similar literary tastes as I do, which is cool, especially when a rating on a book has such a wide range, naturally, since different people enjoy different reading. That said, I'd like to read this one.

Jillian said...

This book looks interesting. I've never heard of it before. Seems like one our book group could read and perhaps have a discussion on, since there are already varying points of view here on your site.

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