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Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbati Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RVs and hit the road for a month? Mike was thinking that he wanted to give his parents the ultimate family reunion. And so, one February morning, three generations of Leonards set out on their journey under the dazzling Arizona sky. Thirty minutes later, one of the humongous recreational vehicles has an unplanned meeting with a concrete island at a convenience store. Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime–and an absolute gem of a book. In the course of their humorous, often poignant cross-country tour, from the desert Southwest to the New England coastline, the Leonards reminisce about their loves, their losses, and their rich and heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) lives, while encountering a veritable Greek chorus of roadside characters along the way. The home stretch finds the clan racing back to Chicago, hoping to catch the arrival of the next generation, Jack and Marge’s first great-grandchild. Through it all, Mike pieces together acentury of family lore and lunacy–and discovers surprising sides to his parents that allow him to see them in a whole new light. Mike Leonard has captivated millions of television viewers with his wry and witty feature stories for NBC’s Today. Now he brings that same engaging charm and keen insight to the foibles and passions of his own blessedly unique family. By turns uproariously funny and deeply moving, The Ride of Our Lives delivers a lifetime of laughs, lessons, and priceless memories. This edition’s exclusive DVD features never-before-seen footage from the trip as well as candid family video and photographs. From the Hardcover edition.


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Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbati Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RVs and hit the road for a month? Mike was thinking that he wanted to give his parents the ultimate family reunion. And so, one February morning, three generations of Leonards set out on their journey under the dazzling Arizona sky. Thirty minutes later, one of the humongous recreational vehicles has an unplanned meeting with a concrete island at a convenience store. Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime–and an absolute gem of a book. In the course of their humorous, often poignant cross-country tour, from the desert Southwest to the New England coastline, the Leonards reminisce about their loves, their losses, and their rich and heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) lives, while encountering a veritable Greek chorus of roadside characters along the way. The home stretch finds the clan racing back to Chicago, hoping to catch the arrival of the next generation, Jack and Marge’s first great-grandchild. Through it all, Mike pieces together acentury of family lore and lunacy–and discovers surprising sides to his parents that allow him to see them in a whole new light. Mike Leonard has captivated millions of television viewers with his wry and witty feature stories for NBC’s Today. Now he brings that same engaging charm and keen insight to the foibles and passions of his own blessedly unique family. By turns uproariously funny and deeply moving, The Ride of Our Lives delivers a lifetime of laughs, lessons, and priceless memories. This edition’s exclusive DVD features never-before-seen footage from the trip as well as candid family video and photographs. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This is a memoir disguised as a travelog. The author decided to treat his elderly parents to a cross country trip featuring sites of general interests and in some cases sites of significance from his parents' younger years. Also accompanying them on the trip are three of the author's grown children, and a daughter-in-law. As the story progresses we learn much about the family, their ancestors, and the life experience memories of the author himself. The book's narration concludes with the caravan This is a memoir disguised as a travelog. The author decided to treat his elderly parents to a cross country trip featuring sites of general interests and in some cases sites of significance from his parents' younger years. Also accompanying them on the trip are three of the author's grown children, and a daughter-in-law. As the story progresses we learn much about the family, their ancestors, and the life experience memories of the author himself. The book's narration concludes with the caravan arriving home in time to witness the birth of the author's first grandchild (great-grandchild for his parents). The author's wife stayed home to be available in case the birth arrived early. This placement of a "new beginning" at the end of a series of past recollections provides a climatic goal for this family's trip, and it also furnishes to readers of this book a moving emotional conclusion. The shared family and personal stories vary from funny to cringeworthy. The author's father is described as a natural storyteller, and it's apparent from this book that the author has inherited some of this talent as well. The writing is well crafted and a pleasure to read. The author is a retired feature correspondent after thirty-two years for NBC's Today Show. It is my understanding that many of the incidents described in this book were filmed, recorded, and later shown on the Today Show as part of a human interest story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    “The Ride of Our Lives” wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it is what it says it is. I was expecting one of those road trip stories where you got a lot of “compare and contrast” between the land and the people met along the way. There’s a bit of that here, but mostly it is a record of the stories a family tells themselves, how the ancestors came to America, how Mike got his first job in TV, how everyone met and got married. The travel wasn’t the centerpiece of the book, the family stories we “The Ride of Our Lives” wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it is what it says it is. I was expecting one of those road trip stories where you got a lot of “compare and contrast” between the land and the people met along the way. There’s a bit of that here, but mostly it is a record of the stories a family tells themselves, how the ancestors came to America, how Mike got his first job in TV, how everyone met and got married. The travel wasn’t the centerpiece of the book, the family stories were. You also got a lot of description of the family members as characters, the grandpa who sings at the drop of a hat, the hard driving TV reporter who has to do two things at once. It was like binge-viewing something like “The Waltons” – you got to know a little about everyone and a lot about some, and you also know how the generations all interacted. Leonard is like a John Boy who has become a successful network TV reporter, so you do get stories of a well-to-do family, but also of family members borrowing to make ends meet and working for little pay to prove their worth – typical Walton storylines. If you have an appreciation for those kinds of stories, you will enjoy this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    I loved the writer's style. He's very funny and not afraid to take pot shots at himself. Traveling around the country with his parents and children, you learn that family is what is really important. Also you cannot go back to life as it used to be, it has changed. Be happy with who you are and who you are with.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    In addition to reading I love to cook and I love to travel. My most recent travel read, A Year In the World by the author of Under the Tuscan Sun (saw the movie but have not read the book), was a bit of a disappointment. So I wasn't sure what to expect with The Ride of Our Lives: Lessons of an American Family by Mike Leonard about a three-generational family road trip in two RVs that no one had any experience driving. But it turned out to be a really fun read with no heavy topics and no politics In addition to reading I love to cook and I love to travel. My most recent travel read, A Year In the World by the author of Under the Tuscan Sun (saw the movie but have not read the book), was a bit of a disappointment. So I wasn't sure what to expect with The Ride of Our Lives: Lessons of an American Family by Mike Leonard about a three-generational family road trip in two RVs that no one had any experience driving. But it turned out to be a really fun read with no heavy topics and no politics other than those expressed by the family members. This book exceeded all of my expectations and then some. As they say, I laughed, I cried, I went into deep thoughts. Who would think a book about someone else's road trip could ever be that interesting. It made me think about life and what family means to me. I also learned, along with the author, a bit about making a trip in an RV, which I have never done. If you are looking for a refreshing fun read to escape from all the usual reading about wars, religious conflicts, and even history, this may be just the break you are looking for. Highly recommended for general readers who may be seeking something different!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peggy L

    Brave son invites crochety, outspoken mom and engaging dad to travel across the USA in two rvs, and see what they have not seen and revisit personal history locations. I do not think I would ever agree to DO this, but I loved this book. This family is presented honestly with humor and love, but is not too sweet nor vapid. Individuals are fleshed out and failings are as charming as successes. Mike Leonard's personal story is fascinating and his family adds to it!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    The book starts off with a mishaps right away. The cast of characters mirrored people in my life. The family embarks on a trip across the us in two RV's. The son wants to give his parents a last tour of the country before they can't travel anymore. They visit special places to them as well as familiar land marks along the way. The family's interactions through out the book made me laugh.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cat.

    This is a lovely book about families and what they mean to each other. Sure, there are times when they make you drink and want to run screaming for the exit. But this book exemplifies the good things about keeping family together: laughter, history, self-knowledge, love. Who, when reaching middle age, doesn't realize all the things their parents have done for them? And, well, to them as well. Mike Leonard decided to give his parents one last vacation, one last big trip to talk about, with the top This is a lovely book about families and what they mean to each other. Sure, there are times when they make you drink and want to run screaming for the exit. But this book exemplifies the good things about keeping family together: laughter, history, self-knowledge, love. Who, when reaching middle age, doesn't realize all the things their parents have done for them? And, well, to them as well. Mike Leonard decided to give his parents one last vacation, one last big trip to talk about, with the topper at the end: the birth of their first great-grandchild. In the process of telling the stories of the trip, he winds in the history of his parents' families, and his own childhood and young adulthood. The book made me cry, laugh, smile and even come to some "aha" moments about my own wacky family. There is a DVD included which contains the four-part series shown on the "Today" show (where Leonard is an occasional reporter) as well as some other material showing details about the trip that can't be conveyed in print form. It's a wonderful package. Not that I'm rushing out to suggest this to my mom--she wouldn't, couldn't, do a trip like this--but it is a wonderful, lovely idea: enforced togetherness of three generations (three (I think?) of Leonard's children are with them on this road trip) with cameras rolling. It's just a reminder that as much as we like to think we're more evolved and don't need our parents, we did come from them, and there are some things that can't be left behind forever. Nice job.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    The Ride of Our Lives is life affirming, alternately hysterical and poignant; rich in heart and humor with only one fault. It is almost too rich. Two-thirds of the way into the book, you feel like you have eaten too much chocolate. But it is a good feeling. Are we having fun yet? Most people avoid vacations that involve both their grown children and their elderly parents. Perhaps NBC journalist Mike Leonard doesn’t have that common sense. He went on a cross-country trip with two RVs with his folk The Ride of Our Lives is life affirming, alternately hysterical and poignant; rich in heart and humor with only one fault. It is almost too rich. Two-thirds of the way into the book, you feel like you have eaten too much chocolate. But it is a good feeling. Are we having fun yet? Most people avoid vacations that involve both their grown children and their elderly parents. Perhaps NBC journalist Mike Leonard doesn’t have that common sense. He went on a cross-country trip with two RVs with his folks (in their 80’s) and most of his grown children and tried to recapture that particular family misery. As he drives from Chicago through the Southwest, up the East Coast and back to Chicago, Leonard intertwines his reflections with biographical stories by and about his somewhat eccentric parents. Their tales offer the book's most entertaining moments: phlegmatic Jack, who's "conversational `off' button got jammed," likes to sing old songs, while gregarious Marge likes to drink and repeatedly spices her conversation with profanity ("Toora loora, my ass!" she yells during one of Jack's songs). But what lies at the heart of this memoir and the journey it describes (something that Leonard discovered en route) is the recognition that families may be missing out on their own legacies—the stories that reside in each of us, especially our parents, that explain who we are, where we come from and where we might be heading.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gin

    Setting:an RV road trip from Chicago to Arizona to the Atlantic coast and back to Chicago Time period: several weeks in early 2004 Subject headings Family and Relationships Recreation vehicles Family history United States Travel Appeal factors Pace slow, leisured Character Development quirky, genuine, moving Language accessible, humorous, witty, ernest Setting ancillary Tone heartfelt, whimsical Book Summary Mike Leonard of the Today Show wanted to give his 80 year-old parents a family reunion and a chance t Setting:an RV road trip from Chicago to Arizona to the Atlantic coast and back to Chicago Time period: several weeks in early 2004 Subject headings Family and Relationships Recreation vehicles Family history United States Travel Appeal factors Pace slow, leisured Character Development quirky, genuine, moving Language accessible, humorous, witty, ernest Setting ancillary Tone heartfelt, whimsical Book Summary Mike Leonard of the Today Show wanted to give his 80 year-old parents a family reunion and a chance to be present for the birth of their first great-grandchild, but he also wanted to give them the opportunity to travel places they’d never been and revisit places that held important memories. He rented two RV’s, and together with three of his adult children set out on a road trip from Chicago to Arizona, then from Arizona to the Atlantic Coast and back to Chicago. While traveling and sight-seeing together, Mike and his family reminisce about family history and share some hilarious adventures. The cast of quirky family members and people and places along the journey provide stories that are touching as a well as humorous. 1-3 sentence annotation A middle aged TV correspondent decides to rent an RV and take his adult children and his 80 year-old parents on a once-in-a-lifetime road trip. Along the way they reminisce about the family history and encounter a variety of adventures.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I love family related memoirs and travel writing more focused on the relationships developed or rediscovered during a trip and this book from NBC correspondent Mike Leonard is a prime example of what I enjoy about them. Based around a two RV caravan trip through the United States with his parents, both in their 80s, and various other family members the book wanders through southern US and up through New Jersey on it's way to a final destination in the Chicago suburbs. The places visited are of I love family related memoirs and travel writing more focused on the relationships developed or rediscovered during a trip and this book from NBC correspondent Mike Leonard is a prime example of what I enjoy about them. Based around a two RV caravan trip through the United States with his parents, both in their 80s, and various other family members the book wanders through southern US and up through New Jersey on it's way to a final destination in the Chicago suburbs. The places visited are of less importance, and less interesting, then the tales they inspire about past and current family members. The author makes much of his view that his family is full of eccentrics and mismatched personalities but in truth they are like any successful family though by successful I mean in the sense that there is deep and abiding love that acknowledges not only the feeling but the obligations that come with that success. Personalities in direct contradiction to each other become whole organisms when in a committed relationship. Allowances are made for each others strengths and weaknesses. And the sweetness of shared moments is palpable when described by a talented writer like Mr. Leaonard. This is a book worth reading more than once.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    This book started out with a bang. Literally. As it progressed, it felt more like a flop. Much of the backstory was tiresome and bogged down the telling. I think you had to be there on this three generational cross country trip to want to read some of those mundane conversations. Yet, there were snippets of hilarious. Just not enough of these to carry the book. I think Leonard should stick with his job as a broadcast journalist and save this book for his relatives. Like Leonard I remember the 50' This book started out with a bang. Literally. As it progressed, it felt more like a flop. Much of the backstory was tiresome and bogged down the telling. I think you had to be there on this three generational cross country trip to want to read some of those mundane conversations. Yet, there were snippets of hilarious. Just not enough of these to carry the book. I think Leonard should stick with his job as a broadcast journalist and save this book for his relatives. Like Leonard I remember the 50's and could relate to this observation: "Most summer days, in fact, were spent without a parent in sight. They assumed that we would figure out how to spend the time. And we did, assuming that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. And they didn't know. And it didn't hurt them. It hurt us. But we lived and we learned." If it wasn't a school day, I was often sent out after lunch and told to be home when the street lights in our development came on. Coming home before then was not an option. Times CERTAINLY have changed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Mike Leonard is a feature writer for the Today show, and in this combined autobiography/travel story, his family travels in two rented RVs from Arizona across the southern states and up the Atlantic coast, and then back to Chicago. The occasion is Mike’s gift to his elderly parents, the ultimate family reunion. Jack and Marge Leonard, well into their 80’s, are real characters, and such opposites that one wonders how they could have stayed married for sixty years. Along for the ride are two of M Mike Leonard is a feature writer for the Today show, and in this combined autobiography/travel story, his family travels in two rented RVs from Arizona across the southern states and up the Atlantic coast, and then back to Chicago. The occasion is Mike’s gift to his elderly parents, the ultimate family reunion. Jack and Marge Leonard, well into their 80’s, are real characters, and such opposites that one wonders how they could have stayed married for sixty years. Along for the ride are two of Mike’s children and their spouses, and a single son. Mike’s wife is staying home for the imminent birth of their first grandchild. The story alternates between events of their trip, Jack’s accounts of growing up with his three brothers, and his parents’ stories of their growing up in Paterson, NJ. The book is light as a feather but I enjoyed this crazy bunch, who make it back to Chicago in time for the birth of their great-granddaughter- granddaughter-niece Josie.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    What a fun book. I loved the familiarity of Mike's growing up years--the freedom that we shared when the world was not such a scary place--or at least we did not know that it was scary. I was surprised and pleased to find Skoose singing a little ditty that Gary's dad used to sing--how strange to find it validated in print!! ( I used to work in Chicago, in a department store..) I identified with Mike's feelings about seeing his parents age. I wish had the desire to take my mom on a similar journe What a fun book. I loved the familiarity of Mike's growing up years--the freedom that we shared when the world was not such a scary place--or at least we did not know that it was scary. I was surprised and pleased to find Skoose singing a little ditty that Gary's dad used to sing--how strange to find it validated in print!! ( I used to work in Chicago, in a department store..) I identified with Mike's feelings about seeing his parents age. I wish had the desire to take my mom on a similar journey, but perhaps I missed the window where she would have agreed and enjoyed going on such a trip. I also enjoyed the references to Mike's and his kids interest and enjoyment in movie making and wish I had seen some of the Brenden Leonard Show--it is so something that our Michael/Charlie would do! There are so many good people in this world, why don't we hear more about them!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Benson

    Perhaps this is an unfair review, as I listened to this book on tape for a book club meeting (and the abridged version was the only thing available to me), but I would not have picked up this book unless it was for a book club. That was a fair judgement, because I didn't find this book interesting at all. I was not familiar with Mike Leonard prior to reading this book, so maybe that played a role in my disinterest. But his stories about his parents aren't all that compelling and aren't even told Perhaps this is an unfair review, as I listened to this book on tape for a book club meeting (and the abridged version was the only thing available to me), but I would not have picked up this book unless it was for a book club. That was a fair judgement, because I didn't find this book interesting at all. I was not familiar with Mike Leonard prior to reading this book, so maybe that played a role in my disinterest. But his stories about his parents aren't all that compelling and aren't even told with that much heart. I really don't care about his high school hockey days, and build it up all you want, but I bet Meg's baby turns out perfectly fine. I don't think this book was necessarily poorly written, I just think the subject matter was boring and not what I was expecting from a memoir.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    This book was a nice story about the Leonard family who goes on a cross country RV road trip with the elderly grand/parents. It’s witty and fast reading. Infused with lots of nostalgic tales of growing up in a simpler time and when kids were kids and some hardships endured by immigrants. Mrs. Leonard is sassy and a spitfire; Mr. Leonard loves to sing whimsical little songs and it’s hard at times to believe these two opposites have been married for 60+ years! They have endured a lot of family sit This book was a nice story about the Leonard family who goes on a cross country RV road trip with the elderly grand/parents. It’s witty and fast reading. Infused with lots of nostalgic tales of growing up in a simpler time and when kids were kids and some hardships endured by immigrants. Mrs. Leonard is sassy and a spitfire; Mr. Leonard loves to sing whimsical little songs and it’s hard at times to believe these two opposites have been married for 60+ years! They have endured a lot of family situations. Sometimes the book’s writing transition was a little confusing – on one topic then off to another and seemed more centered on the author Mike instead of the whole purpose of the trip which was the grand/parents and giving them an adventure in their old age. Bonus: ½ hour DVD of the experience.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    My husband and I lived full-time in an RV for almost 2 years, so this story appealed to me. The trip covered some places we stopped. Our RV life focused on driving to places where we wanted to stay for several months at a time. This story's RV trip consisted of many long hard-driving days, cranking out many miles to get to each trip stop. The elderly parents didn't seem to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the western states, so that's a shame. The elderly parents were mostly disappointed in retu My husband and I lived full-time in an RV for almost 2 years, so this story appealed to me. The trip covered some places we stopped. Our RV life focused on driving to places where we wanted to stay for several months at a time. This story's RV trip consisted of many long hard-driving days, cranking out many miles to get to each trip stop. The elderly parents didn't seem to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the western states, so that's a shame. The elderly parents were mostly disappointed in returning to college towns and previous residences - time had marched on in mostly unkind ways. Apparently the highlight of the RV trip was the family bonding between/among the elderly parents, the 56 year-old narrator, and three of his adult children. The end of the trip was timed to coincide with the author's fourth adult child giving birth to the first great-grandchild in the family.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I bought this after hearing Mike Leonard speak at a book and author luncheon in 2006 or 2007. Somehow it sat on a shelf for a decade (as so many books do in my house) and I pulled it off to meet the "Read a Travel Memoir" task on Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge. And, as so often happens, the book was in my life at the right place and right time. I am about the age that Mike Leonard was when he took this trip with his elderly parents and young adult children. I'm seeing my young adult chil I bought this after hearing Mike Leonard speak at a book and author luncheon in 2006 or 2007. Somehow it sat on a shelf for a decade (as so many books do in my house) and I pulled it off to meet the "Read a Travel Memoir" task on Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge. And, as so often happens, the book was in my life at the right place and right time. I am about the age that Mike Leonard was when he took this trip with his elderly parents and young adult children. I'm seeing my young adult child today and anticipating a visit from my own parents next week. And I'm going to pay better attention and listen more. A couple of weeks ago, I picked this book from my pile because I knew it was funny and I needed something less serious. I spent the last couple of chapters wiping away tears. That's life -- funny and tender.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    LOVED this book! Mike Leonard does a great job of telling the story of their cross-country drive and mixing in memories from his childhood and adult life as well as stories from his parents' lives. It's like a family history, biography, and novel all in one. I love the way he describes his children because you can tell he's so proud of them. And I fell in love with his parents, especially his dad. I really enjoyed the whole thing. I laughed out loud multiple times and even shed some tears. And t LOVED this book! Mike Leonard does a great job of telling the story of their cross-country drive and mixing in memories from his childhood and adult life as well as stories from his parents' lives. It's like a family history, biography, and novel all in one. I love the way he describes his children because you can tell he's so proud of them. And I fell in love with his parents, especially his dad. I really enjoyed the whole thing. I laughed out loud multiple times and even shed some tears. And the icing on the cake was watching the DVD that came with the book that has the segments from the Today Show as well as other outtakes and pictures. There's nothing like seeing the real characters in action after falling in love with them in the book. I highly recommend this book!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dagmar

    This was a delightful book. The author decides to take his aging parents and 3 of his grown children in RV trek across the country, visiting places significant in the family's history. He tells about incidents that occur along the way and stories that are shared between family members. This was one up those upbeat books that made me feel good and hopeful about life. There were parts where I laughed out loud. The author's parents were fascinating and endearing. I could see myself turning into the This was a delightful book. The author decides to take his aging parents and 3 of his grown children in RV trek across the country, visiting places significant in the family's history. He tells about incidents that occur along the way and stories that are shared between family members. This was one up those upbeat books that made me feel good and hopeful about life. There were parts where I laughed out loud. The author's parents were fascinating and endearing. I could see myself turning into the Mom, who always gets to her destination making only right turns. The insights into human nature and how previous generations coped were thought-provoking and heartwarming. I would recommend this book for adults of all ages.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Four pages in and there's already cursing. My book club's going to hate it, but things are looking up for me! ----- Well, I'm finished now, and extremely curious about my book club's reaction. This book is bursting at the seams with positive family feeling, while also presenting them in a realistic light, cursing and light alcoholism included. These kinds of "aw, shucks, ain't my family great" memoirs aren't really my thing, but it wasn't painful to read or a complete waste of time. The people were Four pages in and there's already cursing. My book club's going to hate it, but things are looking up for me! ----- Well, I'm finished now, and extremely curious about my book club's reaction. This book is bursting at the seams with positive family feeling, while also presenting them in a realistic light, cursing and light alcoholism included. These kinds of "aw, shucks, ain't my family great" memoirs aren't really my thing, but it wasn't painful to read or a complete waste of time. The people were interesting enough, but I think the cover is misleading. It seems like the book will be all about this family's hijinks on a month-long road trip. Really, the road trip was just a springboard for a lot of reminiscing about family history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lynell

    This was a book that was full of quirky characters and wonderful descriptions of the differences in the generations. The author, in taking his parents and several children on a long RV-style road trip, creates a wonderful opportunity for several generations to get to know each other better. Our readers enjoyed the way the author cut back and forth from past to present. His writing was spare but with wonderful detail. We enjoyed reading about how he stumbled upon his life's work. Especially poign This was a book that was full of quirky characters and wonderful descriptions of the differences in the generations. The author, in taking his parents and several children on a long RV-style road trip, creates a wonderful opportunity for several generations to get to know each other better. Our readers enjoyed the way the author cut back and forth from past to present. His writing was spare but with wonderful detail. We enjoyed reading about how he stumbled upon his life's work. Especially poignant was his descriptions of how his parents kept their sadness to themselves. The experiences of the characters in the book caused us to reflect on the changes in society and how returning to the past is never the same. It is better to keep our memories. We awarded 4.25 stars to this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Mike Leonard's self deprecating account of his family's month long travel across the country in 2 rv's is an easy and enjoyable read. Mike's parents are in their late 80's and he loads them, some of his children and their spouses and off they go on an adventure to revisit significant areas of their lives: his parents first home together, his parents colleges, and make some other scenic stops along the way. But that's really not what the book's about. It's about the relationships of his family, r Mike Leonard's self deprecating account of his family's month long travel across the country in 2 rv's is an easy and enjoyable read. Mike's parents are in their late 80's and he loads them, some of his children and their spouses and off they go on an adventure to revisit significant areas of their lives: his parents first home together, his parents colleges, and make some other scenic stops along the way. But that's really not what the book's about. It's about the relationships of his family, remembrances of his parents as they delve back in their memories to tell how things were when they were young, reminisces from Mike on his early years growing up with is brothers (hilarious) and just through plain happenstance met some of the people who most influenced his life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I should pay more attention to what my friends read. Beth read this two and half years ago and gave it 4 stars. I just picked it off the library shelf knowing nothing about it or Mike Leonard. It's the story of a trip he took for a month with his parents and three of his adult children and a daughter-in-law in two rented RVs, visiting sites from the family's history, and ending with the birth of the first child in the 4th generation. I laughed a lot, but also cringed at the Irish Catholic sweari I should pay more attention to what my friends read. Beth read this two and half years ago and gave it 4 stars. I just picked it off the library shelf knowing nothing about it or Mike Leonard. It's the story of a trip he took for a month with his parents and three of his adult children and a daughter-in-law in two rented RVs, visiting sites from the family's history, and ending with the birth of the first child in the 4th generation. I laughed a lot, but also cringed at the Irish Catholic swearing. You can catch Mike and his family on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McpI68...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    o Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. Mike took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RV o Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. Mike took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RVs and hit the road for a month. o 09/16/2010 – 8 – I liked it. I think it’s been made into a book on tape – full of amusing antidotes

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    My sister sent me a copy. She read it after seeing the features on the Today show, and it became her favorite book. It's a good one. I'm thankful to meet Mike Leonard's delightful parents. They have much to teach us through how they handled some difficult life experiences, including World War 2 and the loss of their first child. They accepted each other's differences and lived with much humor and faith. I especially loved Mike's great grandmother who came to live with them when he was small. Her My sister sent me a copy. She read it after seeing the features on the Today show, and it became her favorite book. It's a good one. I'm thankful to meet Mike Leonard's delightful parents. They have much to teach us through how they handled some difficult life experiences, including World War 2 and the loss of their first child. They accepted each other's differences and lived with much humor and faith. I especially loved Mike's great grandmother who came to live with them when he was small. Her life story was one of coping with difficulty too. She had a great impact on her grandsons and helped raise them. Great book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    This is more along the lines of John Grogan's The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir than a touring book, much to my disappointment. I think Leonard has written a great book to share with his grandkids. It's all about their family stories, but they didn't seem that compelling to me. It was difficult to keep my interest level up through the whole book. It was especially disappointing to me that the local people and local venues they visit in their trip really only merit a brief mention. In many cases, t This is more along the lines of John Grogan's The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir than a touring book, much to my disappointment. I think Leonard has written a great book to share with his grandkids. It's all about their family stories, but they didn't seem that compelling to me. It was difficult to keep my interest level up through the whole book. It was especially disappointing to me that the local people and local venues they visit in their trip really only merit a brief mention. In many cases, those venues aren't even the catalyst for family story discussions.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    A 5 star book!! (I can't choose the number of stars on the site so I write it here.) It was a great book. Mike Leonard relates funny, sad, and intimate stories about his life and the lives of his family members. He takes his elderly parents on a road trip across the country..."the adventure of a lifetime"...in an RV along with several of his children and their family members. It's a huge undertaking but they finally make it to their destination and the other reason for the trip...a new grandchil A 5 star book!! (I can't choose the number of stars on the site so I write it here.) It was a great book. Mike Leonard relates funny, sad, and intimate stories about his life and the lives of his family members. He takes his elderly parents on a road trip across the country..."the adventure of a lifetime"...in an RV along with several of his children and their family members. It's a huge undertaking but they finally make it to their destination and the other reason for the trip...a new grandchild/great-grandchild's birth. I HIGHLY recommend this book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    If I had a few more siblings, this would be a book about my family. Lots of laughing, good story-telling, nostalgia trips, Irish heritage... I watched the entire documentary on PBS so I feel that I already know the characters. I am pleasantly surprised to see that many of the stories in the book are new to me and were edited out of the video version. I have often dreamed of one day going cross-country in an RV (or two) with my family; this book is a great way to vicariously have that experience, If I had a few more siblings, this would be a book about my family. Lots of laughing, good story-telling, nostalgia trips, Irish heritage... I watched the entire documentary on PBS so I feel that I already know the characters. I am pleasantly surprised to see that many of the stories in the book are new to me and were edited out of the video version. I have often dreamed of one day going cross-country in an RV (or two) with my family; this book is a great way to vicariously have that experience, and it helps me see that it's possible and not that tough to plan.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I got this book because I heard about it from the Satellite Sisters book club. I enjoyed this book so much probably because I am around the same age as the author and could relate to his experiences and memories. I laughed out loud many times and had to read some parts to anyone that was around so they could enjoy it also. What a wonderful experience it was for him and his family. We were thinking of taking a motorhome trip across country in a few years with all the family so this book makes me I got this book because I heard about it from the Satellite Sisters book club. I enjoyed this book so much probably because I am around the same age as the author and could relate to his experiences and memories. I laughed out loud many times and had to read some parts to anyone that was around so they could enjoy it also. What a wonderful experience it was for him and his family. We were thinking of taking a motorhome trip across country in a few years with all the family so this book makes me want to all the more.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I loved this book. It was definitely the comic relief I needed at this time. I think Mike dealt honestly about the diferences between the different generations without sugarcoating them but still pointing out what we can learn from each other and appreciate about each other. We can still love and respect each other and still have those eye rolling moments. I know that this trip is a time that the author will never forget or regret having shared with his family. Thanks, Mike for sharing your expe I loved this book. It was definitely the comic relief I needed at this time. I think Mike dealt honestly about the diferences between the different generations without sugarcoating them but still pointing out what we can learn from each other and appreciate about each other. We can still love and respect each other and still have those eye rolling moments. I know that this trip is a time that the author will never forget or regret having shared with his family. Thanks, Mike for sharing your experience with us.

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