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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Scenic Route


Narrator: Amanda Leigh Cobb


Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

Publication Date: 09/01/2023

Format: e-book & audio

My Rating: 4 Stars

Driven by desperation to hit the road, a woman sees her life come into view in a powerful short story about starting over by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles.

Once happily married with a young son, Jess takes to the road to escape her failed relationship and the disappointment of losing touch with her son. Four years into a nomadic existence, she has learned the hacks of van life and promotes a fantasy version of it on Instagram that bears little resemblance to her eclectic community of fellow travelers. But it’s that camaraderie, and the vastness of the great outdoors, that gives Jess the space she needs to find out what really matters to her. And act on it.

From the Publisher

New York Times bestselling author Christina Baker Kline, known for her riveting historical novels, instills the essence of hope into a short story that transports you across the wondrous landscape of the American West.

Inspired by the community of people embracing van life, The Scenic Route captures the rejuvenating power of nature and tells the unforgettable story of a woman in desperate need of that open space to reimagine her life and repair her broken heart. It is an emotional tale of leaving the expectations of the world behind to chart a new path to a better life. This is a journey you don’t want to miss.

—Selena James, Editor

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles Christina Baker Kline, comes An Amazon Original Stories' Short Story, THE SCENIC ROUTE—a wife and mother’s life spins out of control, and she is left living the van life on the road alone. However, in the process, she learns about herself, finds solace through the pain, and ultimately life surprises her. In Jess's case, van life was a last resort—a desperate attempt to make sense of a life that had skidded off the rails. Jess was a happily married woman, a content creator with a young son, Charlie. She discovered her husband was having an affair—a divorce and married now to Courtney. Then there was the accident. A tragedy. Her life came tumbling down. Charlie now lives with her ex and their new daughter. Everyone turned their back on her. She lost her marriage. She lost her son. She lost her job. She lost her mind. She stole a Toyota Sienna from her ex-husband, Nick's driveway. She had nowhere to go. She learned the #VanLife. The van is her home. Houseless, not homeless is a van-life mantra. Later, she sold it, bought a Chevy Astro, and named her Vanessa, shortened to Nessie. "When you arrive at your destination, you're stuck in your van because it's your home. There's no solace or reprieve." When you get lonely, you can meet up with your tribe. You find the tribe online, in chat rooms and forums. You can meet up with them in real life. Convergences, as van lifers call them, occur all over the country—Lost souls seeking communion in a field. Convergences allow van dwellers to dip in and out of each other lives like extended families without the baggage. EAT. SLEEP. TRAVEL. REPEAT. AND ALWAYS TAKE THE SCENIC ROUTE. Every person she met in the van-life community was escaping something and seeking answers, trying to find a path forward—looking for a way to get it right. Jess did not have an easy life starting from her childhood. A father who left when she was five, then a step-father, which was a nightmare. Everyone was wearing a mask. Does family dysfunction get handed down through generations? While on the road picking up her content marketing (how to tell a story and to see the story) and posting on Instagram, she meets other van-lifers on the road. Then, one day on the road, Jess receives a surprise. "Stillness can't really exist, she said, because even when we're not moving, we're breathing, and breath is movement." —Paradox of Stillness A beautiful short story! I was sad when it ended and would love for this to be an entire novel. Thought-provoking and emotional, a poignant, moving tale of mother/son relationship. Family baggage passed down. I loved learning about van life, the pros and cons. THE SCENIC ROUTE is delightful, heart-stirring with themes of motherhood, loss, family, community, self-discovery, and second chances. For fans of Alice Feeney's Good Bad Girl and author Joyce Maynard. I read the ebook (bookmarked many passages) and listened to the audiobook narrated by Amanda Leigh Cobb for an engaging listening experience. @JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks Pub Date: Sept 1, 2023 My Rating: 4 Stars Sept 2023 Must-Read Books

About the Author

Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

A #1 New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Exiles, Orphan Train, and A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline is published in 40 countries. Her novels have received the New England Prize for Fiction, the Maine Literary Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, among other prizes, and have been chosen by hundreds of communities, universities and schools as “One Book, One Read” selections. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in publications such as the New York Times and the NYT Book Review, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Psychology Today, and Slate. WEBSITE







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