Road Trip!

Summer weather, it seems, is finally here, and that means road trips. I have four novels here, published within the past year, of journeys that take place both on the asphalt and in the heart. 

Rebecca Roanhorse has followed up the award-winning Trail of Lightning (see my blog post about it) with another winner, Storm of Locusts. Maggie finds out Kai, the man she had feelings for, is alive and mixed up with the leader of a cult. With a set of sidekicks, she heads out of Dinétah to the uncivilized world of Malpais on a rescue mission. Once again, Roanhorse balances world-building, action, and character for a very satisfying read, with one of the best climaxes in science fiction I've read in awhile. 

In Lake Success, Barry Cohen is on the run from a sea of troubles involving his hedge fund, his sputtering marriage, and his son's recent diagnosis of autism. Taking only a suitcase full of obscenely priced watches and a Greyhound Bus ticket, Barry mixes with the lower 99% on the way to a former love and himself. Author Gary Shteyngart alternates between Barry's sojourn and his wife's attempts to hold life together back in New York. As usual with Shteyngart, there is both sidesplitting comedy and a transcendent conclusion. 

Getting away from the United States for a moment, there's Bali Kaur Jaswal's The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters. A dying mother's request (complete with itinerary) is for her three daughters, who are emotionally and geographically distant from each other, to go on a Sikh pilgrimage and scatter her ashes. None of the sisters are expecting much from the trip, but as they are wowed by the beauty of India and Sikh temples, they each put aside their own personal dramas to help each other out. Flashbacks help fill out the less-than-perfect personalities and choices of the characters in this moving story.

In Sarah Jane Gilman's Donna Has Left The Building, the title character, a former-punk-rocker-turned-kitchen-salesperson long in recovery hits the road after a cringe-worthy marital crisis. As Donna reconnects with her past, she realized that perhaps the choices she thinks were too safe may not have been so awful, after all. When the world intrudes on Donna's trip to self-realization, she comes through in the end. Flawed characters and frank, first-person narration with a wicked sense of humor make this book great fun while dealing with the big questions.

Have favorite tales of road trips? Tell us in the comments.

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