The Delight of Being Ordinary: A Road Trip with the Pope and the Dalai Lama

Roland Merullo. Doubleday, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-385-54091-9
Drawing from his previous road trip series, Merullo (Breakfast with Buddha) weaves a quirky but uplifting story in which Paolo de Padova, first assistant and cousin to Pope Francis, is asked to whisk away the pope and the visiting Dalai Lama on a clandestine vacation. Paolo’s estranged wife Rosa tags along for the ride, providing the two religious leaders with disguises to prevent their being recognized. They travel the Italian countryside, inadvertently following the path of the last days of Mussolini, raising questions about spiritual progress, identities of religions, corruptibility, and more. The emotional core of the story lies in the dissonance between Paolo’s spiritual ideals and his ordinary state of being. An incessant worrywart who believes he is right, Paolo must learn the greater lessons that the religious leaders and the road trip attempt to impart: how to accept the unexpected, to know that one is not always right, and to be humble enough to realize one’s blind spots. Merullo’s newest is a thoughtful, compassionate, and mature work, a “Christian- Buddhist-agnostic prayer” to the world, and readers will find a pleasant surprise in its conclusion. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
Hardcover - 474 pages - 978-1-4104-9973-8
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-101-97079-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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