Having raced through Brendan Leonard’s The New American Road Trip Mixtape, I finish it slightly disappointed. I’m not sure if it is just me or what, but I feel I missed what was supposed to be the grand theme of the book. I also suspect I was expecting much more out of this work based on the title and where I had heard it recommended.
Warning some spoilers below.
To begin, all throughout Leonard keeps coming back to his lost love. Does he miss her? Is he over her? Can he move on? Etc. Continually coming back to these types of questions eventually gets tiring. He continues this type of cyclical repetition when it comes to having a home, how climbing is his therapy, and the question posited to him by a friend, ‘What is a life?’.
What is even more frustrating is that while reading I was fully expecting the book to conclude with Leonard’s answer to the question ‘What is a life?’, but was sorely disappointed in the way in which the book concluded. All throughout, Leonard comes up with a multitude of questions that most individuals encounter at some point in their life; such as ‘Do I want to have children?’. Sadly, we, the reader, are never given Leonard’s ultimate or discovered answers to these questions. Instead we are presented with a series of life situations of various friends to demonstrate the variety of answers possible. Ultimately, we follow Leonard along for his western US tour, and, instead of getting an answer to the often repeated question ‘What is a life?’, we’re left discovering that Leonard knows he’s home in the West, on the road, in his Subaru.
Once again I can’t stress enough that I feel I may have been searching and stretching out for much more from this book than it had to offer. I had heard such praise reaped upon it and perhaps it was unfounded or I just missed the point. Ultimately, if you’re interested in the story of a man who strikes out to hit the road this may be it. If you’re looking for something with more meat, more thought, more philosophy then I would suggest you skip The New American Road Trip Mixtape.