When you first pick up "the Route", the cover is very deceiving. You see a beautiful, middle age woman, with a happy smile on her face; but don't let that carefree smile fool you. Little do you know, as the reader, there is a wonderful journey to be taken within these 184 pages. It is not always a happy, carefree journey either; but one that has it's ups and downs. I can tell you from the first page until the last, it is a fulfilling trip.
Here is a little blurb from the back cover of "The Route...
Zipping along life's highway . . .
Fifty makes you think. Thirty makes you morose, and forty makes you panic, but fifty makes you think. Half a century, and what is my life? Does it resemble anything I dreamed at sixteen, or expected at twenty, or hoped at twenty-five? What am I doing here? . . . I thought of climbing to the top of a high mountain in Tibet to consult a wise man, but I like vacations where there is indoor plumbing and vegetation. Since I already attended church, I thought perhaps I could pay closer attention. Maybe I'd been missing a great fundamental truth. Well, come to find out, I had been missing something. . . . Carol, a middle-aged wife and mother, is pondering the meaning of life. On a trip to the grocery store to find some energizing dark chocolate, she sees a sign asking for volunteers to deliver meals to the elderly. When Carol decides to take a chance and help out, she's in for a life-changing and route-altering experience.
This book made me think about my life, the present and the past. I have always loved older people, especially my own grandparents and neighbors. I was raised to show love and respect for my elders. I know how my life has been enriched from knowing and loving older people. The main character, Carol, also has this same experience. As she meets and serves the elderly assigned to her, she begins to find new things about herself. There were many things Carol learned, that I marked along the way as I read. Some readers may think of these things as "preachy", but I saw them as things I needed to remember in my life. here are some examples:
-"Don't compare yourself to others because you'll always come out better or behind. Better will make yourself feel superior and entrap you in pride- behind will make you feel inferior and entrap you in doubt. Big philosophy."
After Carol sees how a selfish daughter cares more for her personal possessions than her own Mother, this is what she is thinking,..."I scold myself for judging a situation I know only a little about. As my dad would say, Take care of your own lawn before you mow the neighbor's."
This novel has a way to make you laugh and cry in the same chapter. As Carol visits her elderly friends, their lives are not always easy and she is there to witness the pain, suffering and loneliness they are living through. This next part made me question myself and how much I do for others.
"Life is suffering. What I don't understand is why some people have to deal with so much suffering. Are these weary wounded just not receiving the care and kindness they need because the rest of us aren't doing our jobs? Are we lost in television or computer games, caught up in money and material possessions, too busy with schemes and aggrandizement? I wonder what message the prophets. Buddha , the Man from Galilee. or Mohammed would bring to us in the twenty-first century? Probably the same message they preached thousand of years ago. The route hasn't changed, only the walkers."
After reading this wonderful book I wanted to interview Gale Sears. Here are the things I asked her about and her great answers.
Several years ago I had the great good fortune to be a meals-on-wheels delivery person. The people on my route made me laugh, cry, and wonder about life.
2. Are the characters in the book actually based on real people you have known in your life?
Yes. And not just people from my past, these were the actual, zany, amazing, lovely people I discovered on the route.
3. Who have been your favorite "elderly" people in your life? Of course, for most of us it has been our grandparents. Would you concur?
My grandparents on my mother's side were very good people, but sort of boring. The real characters were the Great Uncles on my father's side of the family. They were part of a huge clan of Danes, and let me tell you, these people were loud, fun- loving tricksters. They were also big time huggers, eaters, and gamblers. Actually my Uncle Louie was the only gambler. We called him "Lucky Louie!"
4. "the Route" is only 184 pages long, but it is full of enough wisdom and down to earth , it reminds me of a quote by ...
"In those homely sayings was couched the collective wisdom of generations". As I read, I kept bookmarking pages of my favorite lines/quotes said in the book. There were so many lessons for the readers to learn in the book. Was this part of the reason you wrote, "the Route"?
I think it was part of it. I didn't start out to intentionally write a book laced with philosophy, it's just that these wonderful older folks had so much wisdom to share that it just kept seeping into the story.
5. One of my favorite quotes in the book was, "Life is life, and we have the choice to ignore, endure, influence,bemoan, or enlighten the process. Our choices make the route apparent." That was just so meaningful for me.
Thank you, Sheila. It does have a lot to do with the approach we take to life, doesn't it?
6. Why do you write? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always liked to tell stories. I was kind of renowned in my neighborhood in Lake Tahoe for making up some pretty far fetched whoopers. I guess I figured I'd just write some of them down. I read the to my mom, and she always made a big deal out of my meager efforts. Her positive response made me think that someday I might aspire to a little bit of greatness. (Moms can do that, ya know.)
7. What are your writing dreams for the future?
I've just had a children's picture book published...Christmas for a Dollar. The illustrations are by Ben Sowards. He's a fabulous illustrator, and I was so captivated by the wonder created by combining words and art! I would love to do another children's picture book.
8.Do you have some favorite authors and books?
I seriously love many of the fine LDS authors we have now-a-days. I love the Cadfael series by British author, Ellis Peters. I love Amy Tan. I love the by Christian writer, .
9. Share some good advice for aspiring writers. What can they do to get published some day?
Don't write to be published. Write because you love to tell a story. Make that story shine by rewriting it and polishing it. And I know aspiring writers hear this a lot, but I'm going to say it any way because it's true...READ. The more you expose yourself to words, and how other writers manipulate words to make them talk, the better you'll be at analyzing your own writing.
Gale, I truly loved this book. Thank you for letting me review it.
Thank you so much, Sheila for the interview. I admire the work you three do at LDS Womens Book Review. I'm so glad you liked The Route. It was such a joy for me to be able to round-up these characters into the pages of a book. I learned so much from their exquisite lives.
I want to end this blog post with one more quote from the book that I needed to hear right now in my life. I felt like this book came along right at a time in my life when I needed this wisdom the most.
"A lot of people, when they think of God, see him as a serious purveyor of commandments. Mary and I see him as a loving father who gives us rules to keep us safe, and then places beauty and comedy along the rough road to keep us smiling. The key is to look up and see the beauty and comedy and not just down at our feet trudging along the rough road."
If you would like to know more about Gale and her work, go to her website at
((This book was published in 2009 by Walnut Springs Press, who were kind enough to provide a free copy of this book for my review.)