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The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances: A Memoir
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The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances: A Memoir

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In the course of one nine-month period, filmmaker Mark Millhone’s youngest son nearly died from birth complications, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, his mother had a heart attack and passed away, a freak illness claimed the life of one of his friends, and his career imploded. As a result of his membership in what he calls the “tragedy-of-the-monthclub,” his...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Rodale Books
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If there could be an award for an over-dramatized plot with little redeeming substance, this book would win hands down! This book was not at all what I was expecting - it turned out to be an excruciating account of a troubled year in the life of the author's family and the resulting catastrophes. Yes, it's admittable that their year was full of unfortunate and dispairing experiences, but could Milhone ever take a look on the bright side of any of it?
The story drowns in dysfunctional family epis...more
Fun story, but not completely resolved

Mark Milhone's memoir about his self-described "Year from Hell", marriage troubles, a reconciliation with his dad and a road trip to pick up a used BMW he purchased on E-Bay (who does that?) is a fun, sad read.

Millhone tells his story about the death of his mother, the death of his first dog, the near-death of his newborn son, the dogbite his oldest son suffers and the deterioration of his marriage.

So, does he resolve these issues?

Not really.

He tells hi...more

Millhone's ease with pushing prose on paper makes this book bearable.
Although there's a BMW and the open road, a smooth ride this book is not. Millhone's writing is a breeze despite the constant dread found in his story. This book reads like a therapy journal for Millhone's "year in hell." In one year, Millhone's mother died of a heart attack, his father is diagnosed with prostate cancer, his son Benny spent his first days of life in ICU fighting for his life, and his...more
Bill Hall
Mark Milhone has given us the story of two journeys in this funny, sad, moving book. “The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances” is about the author’s trip from Texas to New York with his father in a used BMW he’s just purchased on eBay. But it’s also the story of an intensely difficult year in his life and the life of his family, and how he began to sort through the shattered pieces of their existence and found the clarity to begin putting things back together.

During the self-described “...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
I usually enjoy true-life memoirs, and this certainly falls into the true-life category. It's an easy read and, for the most part, an interesting one. Mark Millhone writes about what he calls his "year from hell" and does so honestly. As one crisis after another affects his family, he finds himself and his wife pulling apart from each other. Once he purchases his dream car, he thinks it will be something that brings his family back together again, because a past BMW purchase was such a good expe...more
Heather (Capricious Reader)
A man reconnects with his dad and finds his way back from a year filled with tragedy and loss in this touching memoir that puts a humorous cast on some of life’s darkest moments...

Mark Millhone has just had the worst nine-months of his life. His youngest son, Benny, almost died from birth complications. His emotionally distant father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His neurotic mother died of a heart attack. His son was mauled by the family dog. And his once idyllic marriage is slowly coming...more
It seems Mr. Millhone has learned that there's nothing to be gained from running away from the shared (if sometimes, or even often(!) excruciatingly difficult) present into either of the self-constructed realms of the past or future. Next lesson: As members of the supposedly intellectually superior species, please consider that WE owe as much (or more) patience and caring toward, and hold equivalent responsibility for the "dumb" animals as we do to our own human toddlers. There is an ever-growin...more
Reading The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances by Mark Millhone is like sitting on your deck with an old friend and a case of your favorite adult beverage. He tells of his "year from hell" and its aftermath in the straight-forward, easy tone of an old friend filling you in on what's been happening in his life. The story moves primarily in a chronological fashion with just enough flasbacks for the reader to be able to understand where Millhone is coming from.

The beauty of the work comes...more
Milhone has a nice and accessible writing style. While you're reading this book, it kind of feels like you're having a nice, long chat with an old friend. I think we've all had our own "year from hell" or have dealt with dysfunctional family members, which makes it easy to relate to this book.

I didn't always agree with the way Milhone handled some of the situations he encountered, but stress often makes you behave in ways completely out of character. By the time the book ends, it seems like Mil...more
This is one GoodReads sent me. . .can't wait! Memoirs are distrubing. No one would write one about a la-dee-dah life, so that makes a lot of sense. This one is so normal--normal horrible things happen to this guy, perhaps not all in such quick succession--that it is easy to relate to this guy, the guy with troubled relationships, a fabulous view of the world, a sense of humor. Although I had to race through some chapters for my own peace of mind, I found the allusions and imagery familiar, funny...more
I don't normally go for memoirs, but I went for this one. Millhone comes to the table with just the right mix of oddball humor, tenderness, and drama. I like the way he tells the story as well, just as much a mix of memories as the ongoing track of events. Everything Millhone chooses to describe (either the memories or the track of events) seems carefully chosen and essential. The memories seem at first to be digressions from the main story of the car, but really they are as much a part of the a...more
I checked this audio book out from the library on my phone. It was a very quick read/listen. I tend to like memoirs anyway, so I enjoyed it. It was a good reminder that when things get rocky there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I was looking for some slightly less intense listening after the 64 hour audiobook that was Atlas Shrugged. This worked nicely. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes memoirs of non-famous people or someone looking for hope that things will get better even...more
I will try to keep this brief so as not to ruin any part of this book for anyone else. You should read this book. I would have given it five stars but I had a serious personal problems with two decisions the author made and his realationship with his mother and wife were so honest and heartwrenching it was just too close to home. This memoir is well written with some beautiful, soundbite-worthy prose. I do recommend this with the warning that you should be prepared to have it take you by surpris...more
I needed a light read to listen to on a long drive and I stumbled across this title. Seemed like a good choice. I got more than I bargained for. I laughed, I sobbed, I got a bit angry, I even yelled at the reader once. And I never realized how quickly the miles rolled past until I noticed I had only thirty miles to go as the book ended. For anyone who's life has hit a downward spiral they could not control but survived anyway.
Library2go Audiobook. This book was fairly depressing throughout, what with all the tragedies that befell the author in one year. A couple of times, I even got a tear in my eye (I empathize too much). On the whole, a mildly amusing tale that made me ever more grateful for my circumstances.
Lots of sad topics addressed in this book, which could have been unbelievably depressing if not for the black humor sprinkled throughout. That's what keeps the story afloat and allows for the author's message of hope and second chances to shine through.
A good read, but keep the tissues handy.
A surprisingly funny recounting of a "year from hell" experience in a family's lifestory. At first I thought, well this is just an unusual set of circumstances. But later I realized that years from hell are more common than not. Enjoyable, profound and easy to read.
I really enjoyed this book. It was weird remembering that it is a true story and yes, it even made me cry a little. It also made me think about myself and how I act under stressful circumstances. A quick, easy read that people can relate to.
It had some pretty funny one-liners, but besides that, it was a somewhat depressing look at a husband/wife who are growing apart after a very tough year of family tragedies.
This book took me forever to finish, it wasn't bad it just couldn't hold my interest. I'd pick it up for a half hour at a time and then put it down in lieu of something else.
Reading this book is like you're having a nice, long chat with an old friend. I think we've all had our own "year from hell" I know I have.
So good for so many reasons. It's a roller-coaster of emotions filled with "been there- done that" situations, a really good read.
Samantha Colson
Loved this audio book. I really want to read it so that I can get the full impact of the story. The audio reader did a fantastic job.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Very funny. The author has a witty way of writing. Heart-warming story. (I do wish the language was cleaner.)
Aug 12, 2009 Amy is currently reading it
I bought this book after hearing Mark Milhone give a reading from the book -- hilarious and poignant!
Witty, self-deprecating, intelligent. A quick read, worth your time, if you like memoirs, as I do.
I don't usually like memoirs at all, but this one was actually pretty good.
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