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

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  654 ratings  ·  174 reviews
Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbati ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 0 pages
Published April 18th 2006 by RH Audio (first published January 1st 2006)
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Setting:an RV road trip from Chicago to Arizona to the Atlantic coast and back to Chicago
Time period: several weeks in early 2004

Subject headings
Family and Relationships
Recreation vehicles
Family history
United States Travel

Appeal factors
Pace slow, leisured
Character Development quirky, genuine, moving
Language accessible, humorous, witty, ernest
Setting ancillary
Tone heartfelt, whimsical

Book Summary
Mike Leonard of the Today Show wanted to give his 80 year-old parents a family reunion and a chance t
The book starts off with a mishaps right away. The cast of characters mirrored people in my life. The family embarks on a trip across the us in two RV's. The son wants to give his parents a last tour of the country before they can't travel anymore. They visit special places to them as well as familiar land marks along the way. The family's interactions through out the book made me laugh.

Aug 15, 2007 Carole rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle aged people
Shelves: memoirs
I loved the writer's style. He's very funny and not afraid to take pot shots at himself. Traveling around the country with his parents and children, you learn that family is what is really important. Also you cannot go back to life as it used to be, it has changed. Be happy with who you are and who you are with.
o Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. Mike took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RV ...more
Diane Yannick
This book started out with a bang. Literally. As it progressed, it felt more like a flop. Much of the backstory was tiresome and bogged down the telling. I think you had to be there on this three generational cross country trip to want to read some of those mundane conversations.
Yet, there were snippets of hilarious. Just not enough of these to carry the book. I think Leonard should stick with his job as a broadcast journalist and save this book for his relatives.

Like Leonard I remember the 50'
The Ride of Our Lives is life affirming, alternately hysterical and poignant; rich in heart and humor with only one fault. It is almost too rich. Two-thirds of the way into the book, you feel like you have eaten too much chocolate. But it is a good feeling.

Are we having fun yet? Most people avoid vacations that involve both their grown children and their elderly parents. Perhaps NBC journalist Mike Leonard doesn’t have that common sense. He went on a cross-country trip with two RVs with his folk
I love family related memoirs and travel writing more focused on the relationships developed or rediscovered during a trip and this book from NBC correspondent Mike Leonard is a prime example of what I enjoy about them. Based around a two RV caravan trip through the United States with his parents, both in their 80s, and various other family members the book wanders through southern US and up through New Jersey on it's way to a final destination in the Chicago suburbs. The places visited are of ...more
This is a lovely book about families and what they mean to each other. Sure, there are times when they make you drink and want to run screaming for the exit. But this book exemplifies the good things about keeping family together: laughter, history, self-knowledge, love.

Who, when reaching middle age, doesn't realize all the things their parents have done for them? And, well, to them as well. Mike Leonard decided to give his parents one last vacation, one last big trip to talk about, with the top
Heaven knows I love me a good travel book, to say nothing of my passions for memoirs. This one almost did it for me. But it lacked an element of greatness, so I can only give it 4 stars. Could be the beyond foul 80 something mother or some crude unnecessay additions. Some of the travel companions were completely omitted from the narrative. I'll bet that daughter-in-law was ticked to get barely a shout out! I would have been. Still the book tickled me, so I willingly give it 4 stars.
Mike Leonard is a feature writer for the Today show, and in this combined autobiography/travel story, his family travels in two rented RVs from Arizona across the southern states and up the Atlantic coast, and then back to Chicago. The occasion is Mike’s gift to his elderly parents, the ultimate family reunion. Jack and Marge Leonard, well into their 80’s, are real characters, and such opposites that one wonders how they could have stayed married for sixty years. Along for the ride are two of M ...more
What a fun book. I loved the familiarity of Mike's growing up years--the freedom that we shared when the world was not such a scary place--or at least we did not know that it was scary. I was surprised and pleased to find Skoose singing a little ditty that Gary's dad used to sing--how strange to find it validated in print!! ( I used to work in Chicago, in a department store..) I identified with Mike's feelings about seeing his parents age. I wish had the desire to take my mom on a similar journe ...more
Vicky Tripp
A friend loaned me this book and said it was really good. I have to agree with her. It was hilarious in parts and so real to the life my husband & I are currently leading. We live in a Holiday Rambler fulltime and have taken his Mom, Glenda on a few trips. She's in her 70's and you never know what she's going to say next.

This book was a nice story about the Leonard family who goes on a cross country RV road trip with the elderly grand/parents. It’s witty and fast reading. Infused with lots of nostalgic tales of growing up in a simpler time and when kids were kids and some hardships endured by immigrants.

Mrs. Leonard is sassy and a spitfire; Mr. Leonard loves to sing whimsical little songs and it’s hard at times to believe these two opposites have been married for 60+ years! They have endured a lot of family sit
Fun story about a road trip that reporter Mike Leonard took with his aging parents and grown children.
Marge (Moose) is a pessimist who likes to hoist a few ! Jack is tea totaling optimist happily married to Moose for over 60 years.

This is a story of a family that rent 2 big winnebagos and head off to visit some old memories and to make new ones. But mostly it's the story of love. Married love that has lasted for more then half a century and filial love of a son for his parents (this trip was Mi
Jennifer Schneider
Perhaps this is an unfair review, as I listened to this book on tape for a book club meeting (and the abridged version was the only thing available to me), but I would not have picked up this book unless it was for a book club. That was a fair judgement, because I didn't find this book interesting at all. I was not familiar with Mike Leonard prior to reading this book, so maybe that played a role in my disinterest. But his stories about his parents aren't all that compelling and aren't even told ...more
This was a book that was full of quirky characters and wonderful descriptions of the differences in the generations. The author, in taking his parents and several children on a long RV-style road trip, creates a wonderful opportunity for several generations to get to know each other better. Our readers enjoyed the way the author cut back and forth from past to present. His writing was spare but with wonderful detail. We enjoyed reading about how he stumbled upon his life's work. Especially poign ...more
LOVED this book! Mike Leonard does a great job of telling the story of their cross-country drive and mixing in memories from his childhood and adult life as well as stories from his parents' lives. It's like a family history, biography, and novel all in one. I love the way he describes his children because you can tell he's so proud of them. And I fell in love with his parents, especially his dad. I really enjoyed the whole thing. I laughed out loud multiple times and even shed some tears. And t ...more
Four pages in and there's already cursing. My book club's going to hate it, but things are looking up for me!


Well, I'm finished now, and extremely curious about my book club's reaction. This book is bursting at the seams with positive family feeling, while also presenting them in a realistic light, cursing and light alcoholism included.

These kinds of "aw, shucks, ain't my family great" memoirs aren't really my thing, but it wasn't painful to read or a complete waste of time. The people were
This was a delightful book. The author decides to take his aging parents and 3 of his grown children in RV trek across the country, visiting places significant in the family's history. He tells about incidents that occur along the way and stories that are shared between family members. This was one up those upbeat books that made me feel good and hopeful about life. There were parts where I laughed out loud. The author's parents were fascinating and endearing. I could see myself turning into the ...more
Dec 08, 2011 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio
I should pay more attention to what my friends read. Beth read this two and half years ago and gave it 4 stars. I just picked it off the library shelf knowing nothing about it or Mike Leonard. It's the story of a trip he took for a month with his parents and three of his adult children and a daughter-in-law in two rented RVs, visiting sites from the family's history, and ending with the birth of the first child in the 4th generation. I laughed a lot, but also cringed at the Irish Catholic sweari ...more
I enjoyed Mike Leonard's feature stories on the Today Show and also his son Brendan's short lived show on ABC Family. This book, which comes with a DVD, was just another of the many collections of family stories that are on the shelves. Leonard put it best when he said,"..when you add up all those trivial events and then follow the lines connecting one small life to the next, the end result is often beyond your wildest imagination." He took his parents on a cross country trip in an RV whose end ...more
If I had a few more siblings, this would be a book about my family. Lots of laughing, good story-telling, nostalgia trips, Irish heritage...
I watched the entire documentary on PBS so I feel that I already know the characters. I am pleasantly surprised to see that many of the stories in the book are new to me and were edited out of the video version. I have often dreamed of one day going cross-country in an RV (or two) with my family; this book is a great way to vicariously have that experience,
If you're looking for a fun, good and worthwhile read, I highly recommend this one.

It's a true story of a family traveling cross country in an RV. This isn't akin to slap stick humor movies like "Vacation" or "RV," although there are passages that made me laugh so hard, I either peed my pants or cried. The grandparents make the book--what treasures! I envy the Leonard's because I never had an opportunity to do something like this with my grandparents. Now, as a parent, I want that for my kids a
Aug 06, 2007 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A 5 star book!! (I can't choose the number of stars on the site so I write it here.)

It was a great book. Mike Leonard relates funny, sad, and intimate stories about his life and the lives of his family members. He takes his elderly parents on a road trip across the country..."the adventure of a lifetime" an RV along with several of his children and their family members. It's a huge undertaking but they finally make it to their destination and the other reason for the trip...a new grandchil
Cathy Briles
Cute and touching story.
Sep 30, 2008 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Nancy by: Satellite Sisters
I got this book because I heard about it from the Satellite Sisters book club. I enjoyed this book so much probably because I am around the same age as the author and could relate to his experiences and memories. I laughed out loud many times and had to read some parts to anyone that was around so they could enjoy it also. What a wonderful experience it was for him and his family. We were thinking of taking a motorhome trip across country in a few years with all the family so this book makes me ...more
I loved this book. It was definitely the comic relief I needed at this time. I think Mike dealt honestly about the diferences between the different generations without sugarcoating them but still pointing out what we can learn from each other and appreciate about each other. We can still love and respect each other and still have those eye rolling moments. I know that this trip is a time that the author will never forget or regret having shared with his family. Thanks, Mike for sharing your expe ...more
I first read this book after seeing the series on PBS by the same name. I immediately fell in love with Jack and Marge, and all the rest of the Leonard clan. The stories Mike tells in this book are touching, inspiring, funny, and often unbelieveable. So many of the things this family say and do are so hilarious they almost seem scripted, but they are totally not. This book is a beautiful, well-written tribute to an awesome set of parents and grandparents. This book left me wishing they were my ...more
I picked this book up at the library. I was pleasantly surprised to find a DVD enclosed, that had the "Today Show" segments of his month long RV trip with his parents. I really enjoyed reading about his travels, and I wished there were more about his actual travels, and less about his growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1950's/1960's. His parents really reminded me of Kathy Griffin's parents in her reality series--they could have been neighbors. The parents were the real stars of this book. ...more
I really enjoyed this book because it included two of my favorite things - road trips and quirky family stories. Three generations of a family (80 year old grandparents, 60 year old dad and kids in 20s & 30s) take a road trip from Arizona to the northeast and then end their trip in Chicago for the birth of the first great-grandchild (4th generation to the family). Many stories were shared - happy, sad, embarrassing, and poignant. A quick and entertaining read - I even teared up a little at t ...more
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