Back in 2005, way before I started blogging, I joined Paperback Swap. I had hundreds of books gathering dust and with Paperback Swap, I could trade them for new books I wanted to read for just the cost of postage. I went a little crazy and soon had a huge To Be Read stack, o.k. stacks. I found today’s book there when I was searching for Wisconsin authors. I was just able to read it now thanks to Flashback Friday.
Driving Sideways: A Novel
Setting – Wisconsin/Road Trip West
Ballantine Books (May 20, 2008)
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00199B2XU
Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.
With her newfound vitality (and Larry’s kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stops in between: Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, the Rockies, Las Vegas–and a memorable visit to thank Larry’s family for the second chance.
Yet Leigh’s itinerary takes a sudden detour when she picks up a seventeen-year-old hitchhiker, Denise, a runaway with a bunch of stories and a couple of secrets. Add a long-lost mother, a loaded gun, an RV full of swingers, and Hall and Oates’s Greatest Hits to the mix, and Driving Sideways becomes a hilarious and original journey of friendship, hope, and discovery.
Why did I wait so lone to read this book? Leigh Fielding lives with her brother and his wife about 30 minutes from where I am sitting. I loved all the local references. Also my mother was on dialysis for some time before she died so those references rang true as well.
Leigh was lucky to receive a kidney transplant and through a mix up the anonymous donation didn’t stay so anonymous. Leigh has planned quite a road trip and she has added a stop to visit one of her donor’s relatives. She wants to find out what he was like and to thank them for the gift they have given her. Against her brother’s wishes Leigh heads west in what turns into a very memorable trip. She gains a passenger along the way, they stop to see the sights, visit her best friend in Colorado, meet up with an old boyfriend, has an interesting stop at the donor’s mother’s house and then head to California to hopefully reconnect with her mother.
This was Jess Riley’s debut novel and it a heartwarming and sometimes a heartbreaking story. It is also full of some laugh out loud and crazy moments. I found it to be very well written with a very balanced pace. Easy to picture all the events as they happened because of the author’s descriptive writing style. There was a twist that added just a little suspense too. It was almost a learning experience as Leigh has PKD, polycystic kidney disease. I had heard of this disease but didn’t know much about it.
The trip that Leigh calls her Unfinished Business Trip was quite a journey. I am honored to have been able to travel on it right along with her. I loved this story.
About The Author
Wisconsin native Jess Riley spent much of her childhood being punished for lying and/or passing notes during class, both of which qualified her for a possible future as a novelist.
Jess has been a waitress, a blue cheese packager, and a school grant writer. She worked at a toy store during the Tickle Me Elmo craze and lived to tell about it. She’s also worked at a medium-security men’s prison, which was much less stressful. Jess graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 1998 with degrees in English and History. She shares a drafty old house in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with her husband and a neurotic dog that despises public radio.
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~This book was from by personal collection.~