Tuesday, November 24, 2009

book review: Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

Driving Sideways is Jess Riley's first, and sadly, only novel to date. It's the story of 28-year-old Leigh Fielding, who has just received a kidney transplant and a new outlook on life. After not expecting to live past her 30th birthday, Leigh decides to live boldly for once and take a road trip from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to Los Angeles, where her mother, who left when she was five, lives. Along the way, she stops to see her college boyfriend, her best friend, and the family of the man who donated her kidney.

The description of the book does not begin to do it justice, and I'm not a fan of the cover. I read this book because I'd read so many great reviews. It's a road trip novel for my generation. I love Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and this book captures it's spirit but bears little other resemblance besides the a prominent road trip. Leigh is irreverent, funny, smart, grounded, and delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and I adore it's ability to be both meaningful and amusing. It's a delightful blend of light-hearted fun and real-life worry. It's never too heavy, or too light, and Riley achieves balance with story and characters.

If you're under the age of 35 (perhaps even 40), then you'll love this book. If not, then you might miss some of the humor and pop culture references. I do worry many of the pop cultural references will become obsolete, antiquated or less funny in the coming years, so read it now!

I sincerely hope Jess Riley has another novel coming out because this one was a fantastic novel, and an even better first novel.

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 352
Publication: 2008
Source: my local public library


  1. Oh I am intrigued! I'll have to add it to my list - looks good!

  2. Your post made my day! So, so happy you liked DS. :)


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