Driving Sideways
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Driving Sideways

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  904 ratings  ·  173 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...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,523)
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Betsy
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...more
Summer
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.
Lisa
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 s...more
Angela
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
Sharal 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...more
CJ - Drop Dead Cute
Feb 15, 2009 CJ - Drop Dead Cute 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...more
Tami
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...more
Trish
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...more
Sarah
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...more
Johnna
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...more
Karin
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...more
Kathleen
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..
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.
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
Dana
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...more
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
Mikkee
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...more
Abby
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
Vivian
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...more
Ashley
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
Mar 19, 2009 MB rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
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...more
Caitlin
Jan 27, 2011 Caitlin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
This book is SUCH a great book. I've read it three times over and over again because i just love it soo much. It is about a girl in about her mid twenties close to thirty and she decides to take a road trip. She had just had a kidney transplant, but she still had the mind set to move on and do it.
She has three objectives for this trip..
1) Meet her mom in California, that left her and her brother when she was little.
2) Talk to an old college boyfriend and talk about being friends and "things" lik...more
Jen
Oct 20, 2008 Jen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jen by: Andrea
Didn't love it. Didn't hate it either. It was fine. Slow. A little far-fetched at times. There were some funny parts. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually thought there was too much sarcasm/too many "zingers". I generally enjoy that kind of humor and didn't think it possible to have too much of that...but it got a little old in this book. Also, I didn't like the sexual comments/material. It was unnecessary to the story, and I felt like the author added it to satisfy some "need" she fe...more
Cheryl Chapman
Really liked this book. The narrator was fantastic with different voices and perfect inflections. The story has a predictably happy ending, but not quite the one you might think it would.
Sharon
I only got this book because it was written by a woman who lives about 20 miles away from me. Wow! Was I surprised! I loved it and couldn't stop reading it. It's not a mystery, or even classic fiction, just a really good book about a woman with a chronic illness that could be fatal, and how she deals with it. Sound depressing yet? But it's not, it's someone who chooses to live, and on the way, it's great to drive along with her. I don't know why I loved this book so much, I didn't expect to, but...more
Stevie
I enjoyed this book. It wasn't my favorite and I wouldn't necessarily pick up another by her soon but it was entertaining. The story was quite good even if the writing was a little weak, which can be expected from a first novel. Main character was a bit weak and whiny but she knew and admitted that about herself which was good. There are definitely some really funny points throughout. I actually laughed out loud a number of times. However, I felt like the ending was rushed like she was trying to...more
Barbara Moher
I was bored...skimmed much of it just to get through.the kidney disease part seemed well portrayed, the rest did not.
laninaki
To be perfectly frank, I didn't get about 70% of the jokes in this book. I spent a lot of time being confused.

The basic story premise is interesting: Leigh has been on dialysis for the last few years, just received a new kidney and is wanting to have a life again. So, she goes on a road trip.

This book could've been so much better. The characters are weird - and talk an awful lot about bodily functions. Rather gross, actually. There isn't a tidy ending - which isn't a bad thing, but in this case...more
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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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