Sunday, September 28, 2008

Book Review: Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

"Driving Sideways" by Jess Riley
Published by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars

After a long awaited kidney transplant, Leigh Fielding cannot wait to take charge of her life. It has been six years since she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and she has been living under the watchful eye of her overprotective brother and his wife for far too long. Since her illness, Leigh has let her insecurities and fears rule her life but she is hoping that her new kidney will inspire more excitement and spontaneity. Leigh finally summons up the courage to take a road trip from Wisconsin to California where she will confront her past, learn more about her present and unknowingly meet her future. The road ahead holds more surprises and passengers than Leigh had bargained for but as she soon learns, life’s most precious moments are often the unexpected ones. Riley does an excellent job of crafting the intricate plotline and leaves much room for secrets and deception to unfold. Not everything and everyone are as they seem as Leigh sets off to find her estranged mother, a former flame and the family of her kidney donor.

The story is told solely through Leigh’s perspective but it does not take long to feel connected to the other characters and their personal struggles. Even the most mundane of events will arouse laughter because of the characters’ detailed idiosyncrasies and amusing interaction. However, it is ultimately their flaws that make them real and even more endearing to the reader. The friendships and relationships that grow throughout the novel are complex and yet incredibly heartwarming. There are aspects of each character that are relatable and therefore it is easy to get caught up in the storyline and to feel like a part of all the drama and excitement.

While the serious subject matter of the book has the potential to be depressing, Riley has created an uplifting novel through the use of tasteful humor and respect for those with PKD and their loved ones. You can feel the pain but at the same time, the hope, that Leigh manages to inspire. There are many humorous and touching moments throughout the book, but it is the lovable and neurotic Leigh, that will keep readers wanting more. Her self-deprecating humor and hilarious pop culture references woven throughout the book add a nice touch to the story.

"Driving Sideways" is a promising debut from author Jess Riley about life, love and hope in the face of hardship. It has just the right blend of adventure, wit, and charm.

For more info visit: (hilarious blog, I assure you!)

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