The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family

Mike Leonard, Author . Ballantine $24.95 (230p) ISBN 978-0-345-48148-1

Fans of NBC News correspondent Leonard's slice-of-life features for the Today show may enjoy this account of a month-long road trip he took with his parents, now in their 80s. (A DVD of the journey accompanies the book.) But what works on screen doesn't translate to the printed page, and Leonard's attempt to merge a tribute to his parents with greater issues of life and death hits a dead end. As he drives from Chicago through the Southwest, up the East Coast and back to Chicago, Leonard intertwines his reflections with biographical stories by and about his somewhat eccentric parents. Their tales offer the book's most entertaining moments: phlegmatic Jack, who's "conversational 'off' button got jammed," likes to sing old songs, while gregarious Marge likes to drink and repeatedly spices her conversation with profanity ("Toora loora, my ass!" she yells during one of Jack's songs). Although Marge's behavior begins to seem more unnerving than unusual, Leonard's account of her brave childhood with an abusive father is the book's highlight. But Leonard keeps putting himself at the center of the story, detailing how charmed his life has been from his college prep high school days to lucking into his TV career, which makes for dull reading. Photos. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 188 pages - 978-0-345-49094-0
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-3011-1
Hardcover - 349 pages - 978-0-7393-2590-2
Paperback - 230 pages - 978-0-345-48149-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-2466-0
Paperback - 350 pages - 978-89-8407-322-7
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