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21 June 2015

Life Is All This
Sheila Blanchette
Publication Date
April 2015

Description from Amazon

In the summer of 1975, Samuel Ryder sets off to hitchhike to the Grand Canyon where he realizes life is very good. Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona the road ahead appears to be one neverending smooth ride full of fun, adventure, and pretty women.

Late at night in a vacant hotel lobby in South Florida, decades later Sam finds himself trying to come to peace with the fact that plans do not always work out and the life you imagined is not always the life you end up living. Alone at the front desk, he writes novels and communicates via email with his wife who has left him and now runs a food truck in Colorado. The two of them alone but at the same time together, trying to work things out, trying to hold onto a marriage that has moved just out of reach.

With a sharp eye for the world around him, Sam’s memories wander through the decades of his life as a traveling salesman, husband, and father. His story takes the reader on a journey from 1960’s New Hampshire where he writes letters to his brother in Vietnam, to Boston and New York where he and his wife raise their young family during the tumultuous years at the turn of the century, to South Florida during the Great Recession.

Against the backdrop of the conflicts and anxieties of a changing world, Life Is All This is the story of a modern American family facing life’s hardships with hope, optimism, and humor while discovering that pain, loss, and distance can strengthen their love and enrich their lives. 

My thoughts / review:

A delightful little book which, as often, I read on my daily commute. 

Aged the wrong side of 50 and with grown up children, Sam Ryder looks back on his life. He works nights at a hotel reception, which gives him the chance to write books. I could immediately identify with Sam. Though a bit younger than him, with different life circumstances (and I'm certainly not a published author) there were so many pages when I thought: 'I know exactly what you are talking about.' And if you managed your children through the teenage years, you will feel for Sam and his wife.

As an aspiring writer, in a funny kind of way,  it was nice to read about a 'fellow writer' and 'how they do things'. Certainly, we all know about the little notebook we carry with us at all times to take down thoughts, conversations, ideas don't we? Another part I really liked was the chapters which dealt with how Sam looks after his war vet brother Joe and I had a tear in my eye. Beautifully written without being over-the-top, which can so easily happen with this kind of topic (a terminal disease). And despite many challenges for Sam and his family, there is a positive vibe in this book which will lift you. 

This book won't change the world, but I recommend it especially if you are at that age where your children have just flown the nest or are about to. 

I have received this book from the author in return for an honest review.