Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Pursuit of a Dream (Victory Lane: The Chronicles)

So, forever and a day ago, I picked up a book in support of the #Indiesunite4Joshua campaign because the author, Rob Pruneda was donating all the sales of the book to the campaign. I thought it was a sweet gesture, so I bought the book both to support the author and to support the campaign. (The campaign has since closed, but Maxwell Cynn, the author whose son Joshua is still  fighting Leukemia, is still taking donations and using his book sales to help pay his son's bills. If you have a few bucks, pick up some of his books on his website or make a donation. He'd be thrilled!) Since then, I've become twitter friends with the Rob (or Sharky as he likes to be called) and I find his blog and his twitter feed very entertaining.

Now that I've read his book, Pursuit of a Dream (Victory Lane: The Chronicles) I can honestly say he's an entertaining and great author as well. I don't like being tied to any one genre and I found Pursuit of a Dream to be a breath of fresh air because it dealt with two subjects quite well; one I didn't know very much about, which was racing, and the other I have quite a good deal of knowledge about, family and the inner workings of the familial bond. He dealt with both subjects lovingly and with a deft hand.

Pursuit of a Dream chronicles the ups and downs of the Lockhardt family and one family member in particular, Caleb Lockhardt as he grows up and tries to achieve his dream of becoming a NASCAR race car driver. It follows Caleb through his youth as he deals with the loss of his mother, his father's ups and downs with joblessness, his father's new love life and his extended family's struggles with health concerns and death and also his own faith. It also describes his love affair with the sport of racing and what it really means to love a sport so much and the hard work, sacrifices, and tears it takes to be a part of a sport like racing.

I have to be honest, the book took awhile to get where it was going. There were moments early on in the book that I just didn't see where they were going, some involving the father, John Lockhardt and his losing his job, that I felt were a little too detailed for their own good. But once I got to the end, I understood why some of these things were so meticulously detailed and their importance to the rest of the story. Each detail added layers to who these people were and how they made it as a family. Once I understood how  John, Caleb, his brother Jared and the whole extended Lockhardt clan reacted to the lowest of the lows it made the highest of the highs in the book that much more worth it. Pruneda really brought you into their lives, even into the mundane day to day aspects of their lives to make their inner connections that much more meaningful. Even characters that had minor parts in the beginning of the book I ended up being very invested in. One of Caleb's childhood friends, Brian, ended up being a bigger cog in the machine than I had expected and I really became invested in him and rooting for him by the end. It's those little unexpected layering of characters and how they fit that made the book that much more charming.

Where the book really excels is in the descriptions of racing. If you would've told me months ago when I started this book that I would be holding my breath for the outcome of a go-kart race I would've laughed in your face, but here we are. There were pile-ups and close calls, bumper hits, and 'Big Ones' as the book calls them, that literally has me gasping for air awaiting the outcomes and praying that Caleb made it out OK.

It's an enjoyable, if long (by the author's own admission) read but well worth it. I enjoyed my time with the Lockhardts and am waiting with bated breath for the second installment of the series. My Rating: A-

[Ed Note: Edited to add, I forgot to mention that you should stay tuned on this blog for an interview with author, and maybe *Gasp* a book giveaway! Stay tuned! ]

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trifecta Challenge: Dwell

The new Trifecta Challenge word is dwell, which is a word and meaning I think about alot. This is what I came up with.

: to remain for a time
a : to live as a resident
b : existlie
 on my fears>
b : to speak or write insistently —used with on or upondwelling on the recent scandal>

It was happening again. She was about to make her invisible scars visible again in the most uncomfortable and public way possible. She couldn’t help it. Even though some time had passed, it didn’t take much to trigger a thought, an emotion, a memory tied to that loss.

That’s why she absolutely hated parties, especially parties where she barely knew anyone. But here she was making seemingly innocuous small talk with a lady who asked the question. “So do you have any kids?”

“Yes.” Andrea answered, trying to prep herself for the next question. Normally, a parent would be forthcoming with a number right after the question was asked. Something like, ‘Yes, I have two wonderful children, a boy and a girl,’ or ‘I have two lovely girls ages 2 and 5’ but Andrea always felt it was supremely hard to answer the question given her current situation.

“How many?” The lady asked, not noticing that Andrea had some difficulty with the question at hand. Andrea faltered time and time again at this question. Saying she only had one child was clearly disrespectful to her son’s legacy, but admitting she had two children and one of them was no longer with her not only exposed her wounds but made them bleed anew as if she was freshly cut by the grief again.

“Two,” Andrea stated clearly, although the grief was right below the surface. “One that’s almost two and another that’s an angel in heaven.”

The lady slowly digested the information, while Andrea tried not to dissolve into tears and make a scene. “I see.” The lady stated. “So I hear you are running in a 5k soon.”

Andrea breathed a sigh of relief. She didn’t make a scene, there was no reason to dwell on that pain. It was a gift this stranger had given her, not exposing her scars for the entire party to see, but acknowledging they existed anyway.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Trifecta Challenge: His Voice

“Sometimes you have to make your own path.”

It was her grandfather’s voice echoing in her head. The voice was resigned but clear of purpose. It was unbidden, but it was there reminding her of the advice he’d given her all those years ago. She remembered the event perfectly. It was the day she told her grandfather she no longer wanted to go to church with him. That church that he’d loved so much had done nothing but break her heart over and over again. She went to church in the beginning because it felt like the thing she had to do, a chore like taking out the trash. Then she went with him because she got to be with him, he’d hold her as she fell asleep during the sermon, she’d listen to all the stories he’d tell as he drove her home. It was their time together and it was something she cherished, especially now. But then so many things started to happen and the faith he clung to was something she couldn’t be a part of. So she explained to him as best she could at her young age that she’d no longer be going to church with him. And he listened and at the end of the conversation he said it:

“Sometimes you have to make your own path.”

Having those words resonate in her head in his voice made her want to weep. She missed him so. He’d been dead and buried for so long, but she still felt his presence in her life. He had been her beacon, her stalwart for most of her childhood. Somehow, when she needed it, he came. And she needed him or something, anything to help her through. She didn’t know which direction to go, where to turn. But now she knew. She’d do exactly what he said.

“Sometimes you have to make your own path.”


This week's trifecta challenge was the word path: 

1: a trodden way
2: a track specially constructed for a particular use
3a : course, route
  b : a way of life, conduct, or thought

This is what I came up with.  I feel like I should've spent a little more time with it, like there's more I could've said, or I should've explained it a little differently, but here we are. Enjoy.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Trifecta Weekend Challenge

Now that I've found Trifecta, and have started writing for it/reading the entries and getting more inspired, I'm attempting to enter more challenges. This weekend's challenge was to write 33 words of dialogue. This is what I came up with: 

“What was I like, the night we met?”
“Honestly, you were kind of a dick to me.”
“That’s OK. I was kind of bitch to you. Then, you became human, connected, real.”