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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  ·  Rating Details  ·  764 Ratings  ·  191 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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Mar 11, 2015 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
“The Ride of Our Lives” wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it is what it says it is. I was expecting one of those road trip stories where you got a lot of “compare and contrast” between the land and the people met along the way. There’s a bit of that here, but mostly it is a record of the stories a family tells themselves, how the ancestors came to America, how Mike got his first job in TV, how everyone met and got married. The travel wasn’t the centerpiece of the book, the family stories we ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Gin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  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.
Jan 17, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
Aug 12, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2013 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 05, 2015 Cat. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2014 Marilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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.
Mar 16, 2011 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ellen Marchessault
This is a wonderful book! I have met the author and he's a wonderful guy. This book details a cross-country trip he took with his parents and his two sons, daughter, and daughter-in-law in two giant RVs. They are a crazy, fun-loving family and the DVD that's included with the hard cover edition brings them all to life. Mike works for the Today Show, and some of the videos were shown on TV. Be prepared to laugh and cry!
Sep 17, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book! A friend shared her copy, so it was a quick read to return it. Mike Leonard of nearby Winnetka and NBC's Today, did a great job capturing his parents personalities and the moments of a cross country RV trip along with some of his adult kids. What a trip! I loved every mile, laughing and crying with Mike along the way. Don't miss this one. IF your listening Mike, I would love a sequel!
Jul 20, 2015 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book of the family life of ordinary people; well okay, Mike Leonard is not ordinary but the addition of his story enhances the book. Funny and deeply touching the recounting of family lore is analyzed by the author to reveal the individuality, depths of character, and quirks of well loved family. The story left me with great respect for the child that has to find his own way to success and happiness.
Apr 08, 2016 Suzette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a great memoir; Mike Leonard weaves the tale of his childhood and how it impacts his relationships as an adult. He candidly shares his struggles in school and how tenacity mixed with sheer luck led him to the Today show. Leonard's voice shines brightly and he uses an incredible cross country journey as the jumping place for his rambling thoughts about life, love and relationships.
My husband and I lived full-time in an RV for almost 2 years, so this story appealed to me. The trip covered some places we stopped. Our RV life focused on driving to places where we wanted to stay for several months at a time. This story's RV trip consisted of many long hard-driving days, cranking out many miles to get to each trip stop. The elderly parents didn't seem to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the western states, so that's a shame. The elderly parents were mostly disappointed in retu ...more
Apr 26, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glad-i-read-it
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
Feb 10, 2016 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor, 2016
My sister sent me a copy. She read it after seeing the features on the Today show, and it became her favorite book. It's a good one. I'm thankful to meet Mike Leonard's delightful parents. They have much to teach us through how they handled some difficult life experiences, including World War 2 and the loss of their first child. They accepted each other's differences and lived with much humor and faith. I especially loved Mike's great grandmother who came to live with them when he was small. Her ...more
Vicky Tripp
Feb 11, 2014 Vicky Tripp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Aug 09, 2012 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 31, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2015 Starry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Had some funny bits and was a good concept (telling family stories while on a road trip across the US with elderly parents to visit sites important to them). But ultimately it's one family's story and felt too one-family and ego-trippy to be universal.
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
Bonnie Sanguinet
I was born a year after Mike Leonard in south central Wisconsin to his Chicago suburb, so I can relate to his childhood memories, where it was not uncommon to be injured in an era when children were not always supervised as they are today. I enjoyed those stories.

Leonard is obviously in love with his Irish Catholic family, especially his optimistic and talkative father Jack and his critical but lovely mother. He just didn't make me feel like I loved them or thought their every comment was someh
Dec 19, 2009 Dagmar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ruth Jerome
Nov 15, 2015 Ruth Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Didn't live it until I was about half way through. Made me want to try a cross country trip with a group of crazy people.
Nov 03, 2015 Maura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun peek into someone else's crazy family! Mike Leonard is a great storyteller and the idea of a trip like his is intriguing.
Sep 05, 2015 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the funniest, true books I've ever enjoyed! Highly recommend it to anyone who travels in/with an rv!
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