Friday, February 20, 2009

The Final Journey: A Book Review

A review of The Leisure Seeker, by Michael Zadoorian (William Morrow, 2009).

The final stages of life often involve hospitals and pain and invasive treatments as even the most productive, happy life comes to a close. What if a long-married couple decided to avoid all that to take a final cross-country honeymoon trip? That's the premise of Michael Zadoorian's novel "The Leisure Seeker."

Ella, with terminal cancer, and John, with Alzheimer's, leave their disapproving doctors and their adult children behind in the midwest to escape in their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along what's left of old Route 66 to Disneyland. With John at the wheel and Ella as navigator, the couple set out to grab just a bit more of life "in search of a past they're having a damned hard time remembering."

This bittersweet tale is about courage and daring, about crumbling roads and memories. There's humor in Ella's matter-of-fact ways of handling John's dementia, in her attitude toward taking her ever-more-necessary "discomfort pills," in her wry acceptance of what's to come.

This is a compelling book. Perhaps it will make some of today's active seniors consider such a final fling. The book's admirable, courageous characters encourage thoughts about daring new ways to approach the inevitable end and to have fun along the way.

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