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How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp: And Other Tales From Our 10,000-Mile Adventure Paperback – December 6, 2012
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Top customer reviews
I was flipping through my stack of unread Kindle books and chose this one. I was drawn into it almost immediately and read it straight through. On the surface there is a lot of stuff about a family traveling across the country but the subtexts are what resonated with me the most. I could identify with Shawn and Maile's fears and the upheaval that took place before they set out on their trip. I spent most of the time with a smile on my face as I read through the book. Yet some of the best parts are the ones that were more poignant. I think the strongest one for me was Maile's account of her internal struggle after the titular encounter. I felt it because I've been there on a smaller scale.
One of the best bits of the book is the reflection on "What kind of a God makes a creation like this?" and the answer "A wild One." It reminded me of how so many people want to know why a loving God allows bad things to happen to people. It is a question I have asked on occasion myself. The answer of 'A wild One' reminds me of reference to Aslan in the Narnia series: "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." And, for some reason, that's very encouraging to me right now.
This isn't the book I was expecting. I'd envisioned a cross between Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt" and John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley". Although I'd give five stars those as well, Shawn is driving a bus with a minivan a wife, and four kids in tow. It's not at all the same, and I was foolish to expect it to be.
Shawn and Maile take an intellectual and spiritual hejira through a secular world. I boggled the first time it cost me $80 to fill my minivan, but he's filling a tank with $400 of diesel, without a regular paycheck coming in, but six bellies to keep filled.
Kids are a blessing, no two ways about it; my late first wife and I would have been happy to accumulate a half-dozen of them, but having kids is giving hostages to fortune. I'm surely not the only one who cannot decide whether Shawn and Maile are courageous or simply foolhardy.
Shawn doesn't pretend that worry never creased his brow, though he continues on the trip. I scream silently at the Kindle "Go back, go back, you fool, you fool" as if he was exploring an old mansion on a stormy night and there is spooky music playing, but as the characters in the horror movie, they pretend not to hear me.
On the other hand, Shawn has been talking (on Facebook) about the value of silence. It's as if his Facebook posts were in answer to my silent screams and those of others.
A year ago, I gave five stars to "Building a Life Out of Words", and I predicted this book to worthy of four, for it was just a travelogue. However, it didn't work out that way. Instead of the scenery changing, it was the narrator (and the reader) who changes.
The last good travelogue I'd read was "Year of Eating Dangerously" by Tom Parker-Bowles (son of Camilla Parker-Bowles), which turned out to be a dangerous book to read. Similarly, this book is dangerous. Perhaps there ought to be a Surgeon-General's message on the cover, Warning: This Book May Change Your Life"
What I found instead was a book that took a bit more contemplation, a bit more digestion on my part, as writers Shawn and Maile Smucker share their trek across the United States in spiritual terms.
Shawn and Maile's alternating perspectives give different writerly "voices" to different aspects of their journey, but both those voices are transparently honest and introspective -- almost nakedly so.
They talk openly about their trepidations about the trip -- money, bus repairs, the future -- and share even more openly the life, spiritual and practical lessons they learned along the way.
So much more rewarding than just a travelogue.
" Don't let comfort keep you from living. Don't let fear of discomfort keep you camped on a back street of life. Don't be scared to disconnect, batten down the hatches, and hit the road, if that's where your journey leads you." ~Shawn Smucker
At each bend in the road a lesson for life is shared. Be prepared to want to gather your loved ones and take off in a blue bus of your own.