An emotional and psychological voyage into the psyche of a grief-stricken grandfather ... One of the most intriguing aspects of the book is how author Kindred strategically intersperses direct accounts of Jared’s friends from their shared lives on the road within the narrative. All of them had spent time with him and each other, which they viewed as both memorable and enjoyable. Each of them admired Jared’s free spirit, sense of humor, kind heart, and willingness to help others in need ... it must have required a great amount of courage and intestinal fortitude on the part of the writer ... Though his deep and unconditional love for his grandson may have contributed to some denial about Jared’s illness early on in the disease, eventually he came to have a deep understanding of the entire process. As a result of his appreciation and acceptance of what took place, readers are also led to have a deeper understanding of the addictive and debilitating disease of alcoholism.
This book serves as both an insightful look into the transient world of freewheeling American drifters while also being a vulnerable and open exploration of what it means to be a family watching a loved one struggling with addiction. Kindred’s frequent thoughts of "what if?" will resonate with many.
A veteran sportswriter explores his grandson’s addiction and how he became ''one of those wanderers whose lives are a mystery and a bafflement, an undoable jigsaw puzzle.' ... This is a love letter of sorts, from a grandfather whose work made him a Hall of Fame sportswriter to a grandson who rode trains to a form of freedom until he couldn’t ride anymore ... Kindred writes with an impressive combination of journalistic detachment and grandfatherly love. He shows genuine curiosity about the ways of the hobo code and growing alarm at the hell through which Jared put his body as his trips to the hospital became more frequent. It’s clear the author wanted to help, but he also wanted to understand, partly because that’s what his training taught him but mostly because of his genuine love for Jared ... The book mostly leaves out the tragic parts, and the author doesn’t sugarcoat the protagonist's tale. Kindred approaches a difficult story with love and curiosity rather than sentimentality.