In Michael Zadoorian's The Leisure Seeker, the Robinas have shared a wonderful life for more than 60 years. Now in their 80s, Ella suffers from cancer and John has Alzheimer's. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed "down-on-their-luck geezers" kidnap themselves from the adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives and steal away from their home in suburban Detroit on a forbidden vacation of rediscovery. With Ella as his vigilant copilot, John steers their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 toward Disneyland in search of a past they're having a damned hard time remembering. Yet Ella is determined to prove that, when it comes to life, you can go back for seconds'' - even when everyone says you can't.
©2009, 2011 Michael Zadoorian (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
"Ella's wise, feisty voice turns what could be a sappy melodrama into an authentic and funny love story." (Publishers Weekly)
"The Leisure Seeker is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, funny, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed." (Booklist)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish, from the first paragraph to the last. It never sagged. This is a story about a couple, Ella and John Robina. They have been married over fifty years. They are both in their eighties. Both are sick: John with Alzheimer’s and Ella with cancer. So they must decide what to do with their lives. Yes, Ella was sure! They needed a vacation. What could be better than to take Route 66 again, that route that they so often traveled when they were young and the family was four, before the kids left home? While they travel they haul out their projector and slides and look again at their lives. They have cocktails, grill their food, snooze, take little naps and drive all the way to Disneyland in California. She has her little blue pills.
Does that sound sad and depressing? Yes, I supposed it might, but think, they are both in their eighties and they have had good lives. It is not hard to believe that the book could prove to be thoughtful and down-to-earth and wise. But the author goes one step further and makes it very, very funny. I laughed on every page. I did. You laugh and you smile and you shed a melancholic tear occasionally. Mostly you laugh and maybe think a teeny bit about how you want to live your own life. The message is not all that astounding. What is astounding is the humor embedded in the story. Yes, I really did laugh out loud and exclaim as the events unfolded. You see the book is more about living and enjoying life than about its end. Ella and John and the characters they meet on their travels are very ordinary people. The conversations are so classically ordinary that you cannot help but smile. There is quite a bit of irony in the humor.
I listened to the audiobook. The narration, by Judith West, was superb. Ella’s voice was of a spunky old woman, and John had a crusty, solid baritone. When the narrator spoke for them it felt like I was overhearing a true conversation between two old geezers. When I think now of Ella, I know how she sounds and that is Ella. The same is true of John. Voice says a lot about a person. The narration gets five stars.
So why only four stars for the book? Well because the situation is in fact not extraordinary. It felt so real, such a perfect description of two old geezers. Does that means it is worth five stars? To perfectly capture this old couple, their lives and their dialogs, their sorrows and happiness and fear? It is all there. It is just a personal thing, I think; I would more readily give a book filled with real facts, that is also engagingly written, five stars. My head tells me this is all wrong. Maybe it is the author that builds a story from nothing, that creates with his words an imaginary world, that seems genuinely real that is the most talented? I did enjoy every minute listening to this audiobook. Heck I will give it five. Why not? It is not amazing, but I really did love it. I didn’t just like it a lot. It was better than that.
Great listen for us geezers. It brings our lives into focus, and delivers wisdom to ourselves and our children
I'm in my late twenties, and while thoughts of getting older weave in and out of my brain, they aren't a major concern since I'm busy. (I'm so busy, that I bought the audiobook!) Listening to Ella's story of her life gives a lot of food for thought about aging, life and marriage. She's a funny lady, and I loved getting to see the world as she does. I loved this story about a last hurrah, and will be recommending it to my family and friends!
There is no happy ending here, but the trip is filled with fun and laughter. I could relate to the issues of aging and dealing with death, cancer and dementia. And while those are grim words and issues, the author has been able to bring out the other side of the coin as well, which is that even in dealing with these things, there is joy and laughter. The narrator did a good job with the voices as well, making the plot more believable. The story appeals to what we all hope for in our old age, one last big adventure.
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