Shoot the Moon, by Billie Letts
While Shoot the Moon is not a road trip book per se, I found it to be a wonderful accompaniment on a trip I took recently. It's a story of personal odyssey, and Billie Letts does a great job of taking her readers -- or, in this case, listeners -- on the same circuitous journey her protagonist must follow to unearth his family secrets. The characters he meets along the way range from a bullying redneck sheriff and a femme fatale newscaster to a gay lawyer and an enterprising woman who owns the local pool hall. All are interesting, multi-faceted personalities that turn what might easily have been an ordinary whodunit into a richly textured novel.
Billie Letts' fine writing, so easy to enjoy in book form, translates beautifully into a satisfying audio experience. Lou Diamond Phillips deserves much of the credit for his excellent narration. He brings each character -- and there are quite a few -- to life with a distinct and credible voice. He's able to do this equally effectively for male and female characters, a talent I found remarkable. His Oklahoma accents are right on the mark, too.
Shoot the Moon's premise, pacing, and characters would have been enough for me to give it a thumb's up, but it also has something I think is much rarer: a satisfying ending. I often remind myself, when an author fails to tie things up in a way that leaves me smiling, that "getting there is all the fun." Shoot the Moon not only kept my attention on a six-hour journey, it left me very happy to have arrived.