On the surface, this is a novel about a man at the end of his rope who jumps on his bike and decides to ride across the country. But, underneath that it is a complex and emotional story of a life gone wrong.
After the untimely death of his parents, Smithson "Smithy" Ide, a 43-year-old alcoholic, sets off for California on his two-wheeler in order to find his schizophrenic sister Bethany whom he hasn't seen in years. As in many stories, it is not at the destination that Smithy finds his purpose in life but during his journey. This includes not only his physical journey to California, but also the journey the reader takes with him through his life in flashbacks.
At times funny and at others sad, this book gives an interesting take on the places life leads us and how things change us in unexpected ways. It is an interesting read, and definitely worthy of discussion. It would be a great choice for a reading group.
That being said, I personally didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. It was really talked up to me before I read it, but after reading it I didn't feel that it had touched me in any way or I had learned anything from it. I was was a little disappointed in it.