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Driving Sideways

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,094 ratings  ·  187 reviews
Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.

With her newfound vitality (and Larry’s kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will c
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsGood Omens by Terry PratchettLamb by Christopher MooreThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Best Humorous Books
486th out of 3,040 books — 5,989 voters
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In the Car with Your Feet Out
4th out of 19 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

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I loved, loved, loved this book. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. The author points out how disconnected you feel when you're away from home and you see nothing but local TV commercials (and hear the jingles). She even mentions "Save big money at Menards."

2. Her pop-culture references are spot-on -- references to everyone from Georgia O'Keeffe to the Blues Brothers to the Las Vegas strip to Target.

3. Her main character is funny, self-deprecating and amusingly profane (and to all the prissy pe
just finished this book today. I'm sad that it is over. Jess Riley is a great author and I hope to read more from her in the future. When I read this book, I wished Jess was the cool (as defined by me) older sister I never had. So many funny lines, but also inspiring at the same time. It inspired me to stop staying in (and drinking red wine) and "get a life if it kills me." Well maybe that will start tomorrow because I am definitely drinking out of the box of wine tonight.
Did I read the same book as these other people? Leigh has been through a LOT in her life, including lots of time in dialysis - but she finally got a kidney transplant and is off to enjoy her new life...

This sounds good on paper - and the write-up on the back of the book sounds hilarious. Instead, Leigh is selfish and immature, and her "adventures" are just annoying. The author tries to make all sorts of silly little inside jokes for someone of "her age" but it just comes off as flat. The languag
Driving Sideways, by Jess Riley
and a 1/2 (rounding up to 4)

Synopsis: Leigh Fielding wants a life. Seriously. Having spent the past five years on dialysis, she has one simple wish: to make it to her thirtieth birthday. Now, thanks to the generosity of the late Larry Resnick and his transplanted kidney, it looks like her wish may come true.
With her newfound vitality (and Larry's kidney) in tow, Leigh hits the road for an excursion that will carry her from Wisconsin to California, with a few stop
I really, really liked this book. I would recommend it to anyone who needs to get a little Perspective with a capital P, and who needs to realize that compared to the main character in this book, any problems you may have really aren't THAT bad. Leigh is 28 and is faced with spending the last several years of her life in and out of hospitals, on dialysis, and waiting for a kidney donor. She truly doesn't believe that she will make it to age 30. If that isn't enough, her mother abandoned her and ...more
Darren Tang
This novel was excellent. Typical coming of age novel with amazing characterization. There were times when I felt that the narrative perhaps dragged on a little too much, specifically at the end. Fortunately though, this novel has way more highs than lows and makes the 340+ pages feel like a short story. If one judges the quality of a novel to the degree in which it provides moments of emotional engagement during the read, then this novel undoubtedly hits a home run. Even though Leigh Fielding i ...more
Sherri Hunter
Driving Sideways by Jess Riley is yet another one of those books I acquired on a whim, added it to my "to be read" mountain with every intention of reading it quickly. Instead, it languished for years in the bottomless pit of my reading pile. With Driving Sideways, new to me author Jess Riley introduces us to Leigh Fielding, a dialysis patient who has recently received a kidney transplant and thereby a new lease on life.

I know it doesn't sound very appealing on the surface, but where this story
CJ - So, you wanna play with magic?
Feb 15, 2009 CJ - So, you wanna play with magic? rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes good stories
A really good book about living your life and learning to be your own person. It's a story about Leigh Fielding who has PKD and has just had a kidney transplant, a miracle unto itself, she then decides to take a road trip so that she can see her mother,meet up with her best friend and essentially be free of her overprotective brother and her own limitations.

She gets "hostage-ed" into taking a 17 year old hitchiker named Denise with her to California and coincidentally, Denise is the name of her
This is the story of a kidney transplant patient with a new lease on life. After her transplant, Leigh Fielding decides to embark on a road trip from Wisconsin to California to settle various unfinished business. Of course, the road turns out to have more metaphoric bumps and detours than she expected.

Denise, a quirky 17 year old hitchhiker with a couple of little secrets, is my favorite character. With her carefree exuberance and capriciousness, Denise draws the narrator out of her egocentric r
This book is what I ultimately classify as my favorite term for a novel: subtle.

It was simply wonderful. It touched on a lot of the issues that I face as a so-called cancer survivor, except in this case, the narrator has PKD (a kidney disease I'm not quite adept at spelling). All the health insurance problems, life decisions, desire for independence and friends and a social life that does not revolve around hospital visits, etc...the author did a great job of getting it "right" - even though it
A good easy read about a young girl taking a road trip in search of some answers.
WBC-10 pts---new author

I LOVED this book. It caught my attention from the first few pages and held it all the way through. I loved the fact that the main character made her way through South Dakota. Being from Sioux Falls, you don't find many books that deal with anything near here, but this one did. I also loved the ending. Not all the strings are tied up, but you get the gist of what is going to happen. I am a sucker for the happy endings, but the ones that allow you to make your own ending is
Driving Sideways by Jess Riley

Leigh Fielding, a kidney transplant who is now free of dialysis, sets out on a road trip seeking adventure and reunions with an old flame, an old friend and her long gone mother. Shortly into the trip she meets Denise, a teen with a horrendous tale who needs a ride, and, against her better judgement and in order to get her purse, she agrees to give her a ride. Leigh uses plenty of humour to help alleviate stress and get through difficulties, and receives a number of
I picked up this book as a bit of "fluff" after reading a very depressing memoir. I expected it to be very forgettable. I was pleased and surprised to find that it was amusing, touching and witty. I didn't want to come to the end, and when I did, I wanted to know more. The only problem was the speed with which sarcasm and "one-liners" appeared. I felt that I was still appreciating the wit and language of one when another had already gone by. I do read very fast, so maybe the problem was mine..
I really wanted to like this book. I was looking for a breezy chicklit road-trip, but there were several things that made this book increasingly unpalatable. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Leigh and Denise, and the belief Leigh had that her transplanted kidney, Larry, allowed her to channel the donor was very amusing. Her friends Jillian and Wes were completely unbelievable. Both felt like a hodgepodge of personality characteristics and I found Jillian's sulking tiresome.

Then there were th
The subject was good; a young woman gets a kidney transplant and a new lease on life. I learned quite a bit about kidney failure, dialysis and treatments. It was just difficult to connect with the main character, Leigh. I didn't feel any emotional attachment, if that makes any sense. The relationship between Leigh and her brother was sketchy and hard to understand. It's a good story, I just think it needs "more"; more development of character so the reader actually cares if her new kidney fails. ...more
Kate Stolz

this book was billed as a "hopeful and hilarious debut." I can agree with hopeful. it's definitely NOT a book I couldn't put down. in fact, I had to make a commitment to finish it. it's not a book I would recommend.
This story takes on a tough subject, polycystic kidney disease (PKD), cysts that develops in the liver and elsewhere in the body, sometimes causing kidney failure which happens with Leigh, the main character. This could had been a very heavy and difficult topic to read about, but the author lightens it up by making Leigh have a wicked sarcasm sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud a few times even.

Leigh wants to thank Larry's family for giving her his kidney, after all she's been on d
Stephanie Weeks
While there were tons of funny, humorous jokes & great life lessons, I could NOT get excited about this book. Bought it completely on a whim from my local used bookstore & while I really enjoyed the IDEA of the story.. it seemed to jump all over the place! There were constant flashbacks but they weren't always clearly spelled out & I got confused out. I did however highlight & underline all sorts of quotes in this book and I did find myself relating to so many things in this stor ...more
Whenever my daughter or I read a great book we share it. Driving Sideways was first read by Lauren and she passed it along with a great review read by the author no less. Knowing that the author might read your review is very daunting to me. I am not an English major and tend to write in short but sweet sentences. But here goes.

Leigh Fielding has a kidney disease (PKD) and for the last five years has been on a restricted diet and constrained by being on dialysis. Now thanks to the late Larry Res
Connie N.
This comes across as a young adult book, despite the fact that the main character is 28-years-old. But she has been affected with kidney disease and has had a transplant, which makes her dependent and seemingly younger than she is. She's never had a career or a long-term relationship, so this road trip is a new adventure for her. It's also against her brother's wishes, with whom she's had a love-hate relationship for years since he is her guardian. That's another reason why she's emotionally del ...more
If the 1/2 star system was available, I would give this book a 2 1/2. This was Jess Riley's first novel, and while there were definite moments peeking out at good novel writing skills, overall, I am unimpressed.

Riley for the most part had a good sense of flow and kept the reader connected to all the details of the characters. Her wit in the book began to weigh the book down. She reminded me of a 5 year old child who realize that they are funny and start doing the same thing so often that the adu
. Interesting book. It sounds like it would be a downer, but it really isn’t. … Leigh Fielding needed a kidney. After being on dialysis for 5 years, she receives one from a young man who was killed in auto accident. Now feeling good, she decides to take a roadtrip to 1) find her absent mother and 2) meet the family of the young donor. Her best friend joins her on the trip. On the way from Wisconsin to California she picks up a 17 year old hitchhiker who brings more adventure to the trip.
Kathi Knowles
Read this for book club otherwise would have never read it. If you like drunken college humor about pubic hair and the "f" word, you'll love this book. If you like stories of crazy friends with "life" being thrown at them and you can look past all the raunchy tmi, you can get enjoyment out of this book. behind all the tmi comments there is a meaningful story about a woman dealing with the trials of having a deadly disease and the hardships of organ transplant.
Riley presents an interesting story that has the potential to be a lot of fun while still addressing some interesting issues including chronic illness at a relatively young age and the impact that this can have on an already difficult or complicated life; however, she falls short. She uses a lot of unpleasant ableist jokes in her narrative - which is incredibly unproductive given the focus on Polycystic Kidney Disease and the awareness-raising attempt at the back of the book, which immediately t ...more
I picked this up looking for a quick fun read, and that's what I got. I enjoy random humor, so this book was pretty entertaining for me, with some laugh out loud moments. Some people might say the author is trying a bit too hard to be funny and goes overboard, I was okay with it.

To keep the summary short and sweet:
A girl goes on a roadtrip and encounters some interesting people and crazy adventures. And the moral of the story - live life to the fullest.

The people she meets and some of the things
Stephanie Scarbrough
I really loved this book. Not only as a chronic illness survivor, but as a reader. It was beautifully well written and made me feel like I was on Leigh's road trip with her. I feel like there should be more books written about a protagonist with chronic disease! Wonderful work, touched my heart and soul.
This one was just ok for me... Leigh Fielding, a twentysomething who had a kidney transplant last year takes a road trip. She starts solo, but soon picks up a teenager at a rest stop. They continue to meet Leigh's BFF, Jillian, who ends up joining their journey. Leigh's ultimate goal is to meet the family of her kidney donor, Larry, and meet her mother who walked out on her family when she was a kid. Things goo awry, Leigh makes some relevations, and voila, there's the mostly happy, somewhat unr ...more
Chi Dubinski
Leigh Fielding spent five years on dialysis before she received a kidney transplant. She and her brother were raised by their grandmother, after their mother deserted them and their father committed suicide. With her newfound energy, Leigh sets out on a road trip—from her home in Fond du Lac to California, where she believes her mother is living. Along the way she plans to visit an old college boyfriend, drop in unannounced on the family of Larry Resnick, the donor of her new kidney, and visit h ...more
MB (What she read)
Going in, from the cover art and book blurb, I expected this book to be chick lit. It turned out to be something else entirely. Like life, it was both heartwarming and heartbreaking at times. It was flip, funny, and sad, and ultimately hopeful. I am glad that I read it!

I wish that I had found this book earlier in my life. It reminded me of a friend who had experienced and was experiencing much of what this book's heroine went through. If I had read this book then, I would have had better underst
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Win a Free Signed Copy of Driving Sideways 2 20 Apr 01, 2012 04:47PM  
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Wisconsin native Jess Riley spent much of her childhood being punished for lying and/or passing notes during class, both of which qualified her for a possible future as a novelist. She won her first short story contest in high school for a tale told through the point of view of a seven-year-old black boy living in Cabrini Green because as a middle-class white teenager, she knew a lot about that ki ...more
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