Who wrote this book and when?
Tom Bodett published this in 1996.

Has there been a film version?
No.

Who are the important characters?
Webster Cummings – a man who knows numbers, is adopted and searching for his biological parents, fell out of an airplane and survived
Ed Flannigan – a former construction worker who lost his arm while living in Alaska and has now been relocated to Quartz Creek, Oregon
Oliver – a homeless man with amnesia on the streets of Seattle, has somewhat prophetic dreams
Lloyd Decker – a man in his 70’s who suddenly decides he wants to see the US by RV
Evelyn Decker – Lloyd’s wife, set in her ways
Deirdre – Lloyd and Evelyn’s daughter, a rebel
Norman – a teenager banished to Oregon by his Alaskan family for misbehaving
Zowat – a spiritualist
Richard Hoople – an editor for diet books, lives across the country from his wife
Katherine Bedinger – an executive, Richard’s wife
Anthony Decker – Lloyd and Evelyn’s son, started for out west and made it less than 100 miles

What’s it about?
This is a collection of stories about people in various areas of America whose lives become intertwined over one summer, as one man falls out of an airplane and another gets wanderlust. It spans the entire US, including Alaska and Hawaii, NY and Seattle – drawing from the lives of regular Americans to tell a tale about family, forgiveness, growing up, and dealing with change.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
I don’t believe it’s either.

Do I recommend you read this book?
If you enjoy Garrison Keillor, then yes.

How did this book make my list?
Spotted it at the library.

Has it won any awards?
Nope.

Favorite quotes:
“There were so many things to be miserable about in New York. Richard had no trouble at all fabricating suffering. He seldom had to be creative at all.” – p 36

“The morning came like a good idea – slow, clear, and divine – pushing everything else out of the way.” – p 112

Anything else?
Tom Bodett is the spokesperson for Motel 6. He’s the guy that says “We’ll leave the light on for ya.” Also, he used to do the voice work for the show Animaniacs in the segment called “Good idea, Bad idea.” Know who I’m talking about yet?

Personal thoughts:
This book is distilled Americana. Bodett manages not only to cross the country, but include people from several walks of life – from homeless to those with multiple homes, from farmer to businesswoman. The “twists” in this book are either exceedingly obvious or blindsidingly unexpected, but usually sweet and poignant.

One thing I enjoy about Tom Bodett’s works is his ability to leave his characters unfinished. At the end of the story, there are still unfinished personalities, room to further grow, not necessarily a “happily ever after.” People die and disappear unexpectedly, refuse to forgive and grow, just as people in the real world do. His works are so very true to life.

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