Michael Zadoorian has elegantly captured the essence of what it means to choose your own life.
The Leisure Seeker has haunted me over the last couple of weeks. I find myself thinking about it while driving, taking a shower or sitting in my armchair. It has left me in much the same state of mind that I was after I saw Thelma and Louise. Exhilarated and ready to drive into the sunset towards a different ending!
John and Ella refuse to let age, illness, loss of memory or their children hold them back. They are stubborn and courageous to the end. And this last trip is a fitting affirmation of the power of self determination; no matter how hard or improbable.
For this last trip, John is the designated driver and Ella, his faithful navigator and colorful narrator. Slowly, the journey down Route 66 also becomes a trip down memory lane. And as they travel, Ella faithfully chronicles scenes from both the interstate and the story of their life together.
In every way they are ordinary people. They courted in the old fashioned sense of the word, raised kids, took family vacations and ultimately retired. They lived in the same urban area their whole life. They worked, played cards and took weekend jaunts with their friends.
Through the course of her ruminations about life, marriage, parenting and friendship you slowly realize that she is the glue that has their life together. You get a glimpse of the young mother and the suburban housewife she used to be. You hear the love and exasperation that co-exist in every marriage. You see her struggle with loss, age and disease.
She is. finally, "'a feisty old lady" with a quirky sense of humor and an iron will. Her words finely capture the fear and the euphoria of choosing your own life against all odds.
Here is the publisher's synopsis:
John and Ella Robina have shared a wonderful life for more than fifty years. Now in their eighties, Ella suffers from cancer and has chosen to stop treatment. John has Alzheimer's. Yearning for one last adventure, the self-proclaimed "down-on-their-luck geezers" kidnap themselves from the adult children and doctors who seem to run their lives to steal away from their home in suburban Detroit on a forbidden vacation of rediscovery.
With Ella as his vigilant copilot, John steers their '78 Leisure Seeker RV along the forgotten roads of Route 66 toward Disneyland in search of a past they're having a damned hard time remembering. Yet Ella is determined to prove that, when it comes to life, a person can go back for seconds—sneak a little extra time, grab a small portion more—even when everyone says you can't.
Darkly observant, told with humor, affection, and a touch of irony, The Leisure Seeker is an odyssey through the ghost towns, deserted trailer parks, forgotten tourist attractions, giant roadside icons, and crumbling back roads of America. Ultimately it is the story of Ella and John: the people they encounter, the problems they overcome, the experiences they have lived, the love they share, and their courage to take back the end of their own lives.