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! ]

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