Tom Walsh's book tells the story of Jason, a disillusioned young man on a cross country drive. At a gas station in Pennsylvania, he meets up with an old man, Hector, in need of a ride to Pocatello, Idaho to visit his family. Against his better judgment, Jason allows the gas station attendant to talk him into giving the old man a lift, seeing how he is heading out West himself. Written largely as a dialogue between the two protagonists, Jason begins to listen to the old man's story of his long and varied life. Soon, Jason begins to share facts about his own upbringing and family, his disappointments, and his desire for a new life. Viewed through the prism held up by HEctor, Jason begins to see his past, and his relationships, in a whole new light.
Many writers fall into a cliche trap, portraying the older character as both wise and perfect in the eyes of the younger, and the old character envying youth for the horizons left ahead. Thankfully, Walsh skillfully avoids these narrative pitfalls. The book is engaging and engrossing. The ending was heartwarming, but it also left this reader saddened that the road trip shared by Jason and Hector had to come to an end.
Thematically, the book resonates with the self discovery of Mitch Albom's "Tuesdays with Morrie" and the classic road trip story in the spirit of John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie in Search of America."