Schoichet, Barbara. Don’t Think Twice: Adventure and Healing at 100 Miles Per Hour. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016. HC $26.00. ISBN 978-1101981801.
At age 50, within a six-month period, the author loses her mother to pancreatic cancer, her job, and her long-time girlfriend. At such an excruciating personal crossroads, Schoichet decides to heal and find life’s meaning on the road, from New York to Los Angeles, via Route 66—on the back of a Harley. She takes fortunate readers along for the ride.
“Travelogue memoirs” are rarely my reading genre of choice, as I often find them tedious if not painfully boring. But Schoichet keeps naysayers such as I fully engrossed via her keen descriptive powers, especially of the myriad bona fide “characters” she encounters along the way—-from her doom-and-gloom “Don’t be stupid!” motorcycle instructor to numerous grizzled motel front-desk clerks, to world-weary waitresses and bar stool denizens. Thanks to the author’s skillful dialogue and scene-setting, these folks consistently come alive and keep the narrative humorous and thoughtful.
Along the way, Schoichet also deals with family pressures, as per her status as the youngest of four close-knit sisters, and copes with the lingering aftermaths of her parents’ deaths. The occasions when she thinks she actually sees her late mother and father in graveyards and other historic locales become a bit Twilight-Zone-ish for my tastes, but those are relatively brief interludes in a journey that maintains reader interest till the end.
As she puts it: “I felt that my three-week motorcycle trek was a rebellion of sorts, a way of thumbing my nose at grief, and turning up the volume to my all-but-silenced life…..I didn’t have a death wish, but I didn’t have a life wish, either.” Schoichet’s weeks on the road bring her closure and, obviously, many fine stories to share.
This book is recommended for LGBT biography/memoir and general travel collections.
Dallas (TX) Public Library