Friday, March 25, 2011

Rules of the Road (YA)

Rules of the Road. Joan Bauer. 1998/2005. Penguin. 208 pages.

I leaped onto the sliding ladder in the back room of Gladstone's Shoe Store of Chicago, gave it a shove, and glided fast toward the end of the floor to ceiling shelves of shoeboxes.

I love Rules of the Road. I think it is my favorite and best Joan Bauer book. (In case you haven't read her, you should! You really should! She's fabulous!) I read this one in pre-blog days, so this is my first opportunity to gush about how wonderful it is.

Jenna Boller, our heroine, has a part-time job selling shoes. And it's a job that she enjoys very much--especially on days when her drunk father doesn't show up at the store to embarrass her. So Jenna is quite surprised when Mrs. Gladstone, the owner of the Gladstone company, asks her to drive her across country to visit all her stores before the big meeting in August. Surprised because Jenna is relatively a new driver. Surprised because she could have hired anyone, confided in anyone. But these two have a way of bringing out the best in one another. And a wonderfully odd friendship begins. Together these two will cover many, many miles. They'll have many opportunities to discuss the meaning of life. (Not that they'd ever call it that, mind you!) Each woman has their own battle to fight. Mrs. Gladstone struggling to hold onto her company, fighting her greedy son and stockholders. Jenna struggling to deal with her life, her father. Does he have any place in her life? Should she work at forgiving him so she can move on with her life? Is the anger and anxiety worth it? How do you stop worrying though? How do you stop hating? How can you turn your feelings off and on? She has a dad-shaped hole in her life, and it's a hole that is hard to ignore...

I loved this one. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. I would definitely recommend it!

I thought of all the good drivers I'd ever seen, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what made them that way. They just got behind the wheel, drove, and didn't run into things. The not running into things was important. (25)

Opal couldn't cope with my dateless state and kept trying to fix me up with sub-par guys like Morris, her second cousin twice removed, who, believe me, you want to be removed from at least twice. (31)

My grandma always said that people who snored were sleeping with enthusiasm. I tried to remember this, but there's just so much enthusiasm a person can handle in close quarters. (49)

I learned great road truths that teenagers aren't always exposed to.
Never go into a restaurant with a sign that says GOOD EATS.
Never eat at a place called MOM'S, because it's a safe bet Mom's been dead for years and whoever's in the kitchen didn't have a working relationship with her.
If you see four or more pickups in front of a diner, chances are you'll get a good meal. (113-4)

"I thought people in Texas were laid back," I shouted as two mega-trucks thundered by.
"They are," Mrs. Gladstone said happily, "except on the road." (121)

My grandma always said that God made libraries so that people didn't have any excuse to be stupid. Close to everything a human being needed to know was somewhere in the library. There was plenty I needed to know. (142)

It's the little things, not just in selling, but in life that make the difference. The small moments when you can touch another person. Harry Bender was always looking for them and he found more than any person I'd ever met. (146)

You know the thing about hope, how it sneaks up behind you when you're sure everything's in the toilet, and starts whispering to you that maybe, just maybe, things could turn around. That's the gift Harry gave us that night. Some people, all you have to do is stand next to them and you feel protected. Mrs. Gladstone said he was always like that, too, a presence of hope, even after all he'd been through, able to laugh darkness in the face. I wondered if that came from knowing the darkness so well, he'd figured out how to beat it. (153)

You never know where the road's going to take you. I think sometimes it's less important that you get to your destination than the sidetrips you take along the way. (165)
© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic 6:31 PM  

I love the quotes you included. This character and book sounds fantastic.

melissa @ 1lbr 10:20 AM  

Oh, one of my favorites too! Makes me want to reread it. Great review.

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