Book Review – Driving Grandpa

Synopsis: What do you get when you combine a hard-nosed WWII vet, a crazy stray dog, a pickup, and a string of foreclosed houses? The answer is a story that will playfully slam your nose against the proverbial passenger-side window at every unexpected turn. In this fictionalized memoir, author John Redstand takes readers on a rollicking tour of the last few months of his grandfather’s life. It’s an adventure you don’t want to miss.

A contract worker hired to clean out abandoned properties during the housing market crash of 2008, the narrator happily adopts double duty as chauffeur for Grandpa, who (despite his ornery protestations) is not allowed to drive anymore. These two simple tasks collide in a perfect storm of one humorous calamity after another.

Woven between the daily adventures of cleaning up supposedly vacant foreclosures, attempting to renew Grandpa’s license, and pursuing a decades gone by female counterpart, are Grandpa’s amusing and often absurd stories of World War II. An airplane mechanic stationed in Australia and the Pacific during the war, Grandpa fills their commutes with tales of stranded submarines, earthquake bombs, run-ins with Australian wildlife, and a disagreeable commanding officer.

Behind the story’s humor breathes a warm and touching ode to family, patriotism, and the Greatest Generation. Not so much of an elegy as an attempt to see the world through Grandpa’s peculiar and remarkable eyes, Driving Grandpa offers an amusing and endearing slice of life that is sure to bring a smile.

Rated: 3 out of 5 stars

Review: This fictional memoir is exactly what sounds like. It is a story about a man driving around his grandfather to abandoned houses while he listens to World War II stories – almost all of which he’s heard before. The author is a wonderful writer. It’s clear he has skills while reading through, but I’m not sure this fictional memoir accurately flatters his talent as an author. The book was a little boring. I had to force myself to keep reading it.

A memoir is defined as “a historical account or biography written from personal knowledge or special sources” but I’m not really sure that’s what this story is. It’s almost as if it’s trying to be a novel but doesn’t really have a plotline to keep the reader’s interest. It’s just a recounting of the last days before the grandfather’s death.

I’m not a huge fan of hearing stories from World War II, but for anyone who does enjoy them this would be a wonderful story for them. The characters are very well developed and they have a very endearing relationship. Rather than a fictional memoir, this could have been a lovely and interesting novel if there was a little more excitement put into the story.

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