Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Mother Road by Jennifer Allee

A Review by Susanne Dietze

Fasten your seatbelt and settle in for a journey full of laughter, heartbreak, and hope in Jennifer Allee’s The Mother Road—a road-trip novel I loved so much I took it everywhere with me. Including, of course, the car, where it made excellent reading on an overnight trip.

Natalie Marino’s life is enviably perfect. Despite her struggle with infertility, she’s had a successful life:  handsome hubby, nice home in Southern California, and an amazing career writing Christian romance and speaking to women on marriage.

So when her husband demands a divorce so he can marry his pregnant mistress, the betrayal costs Natalie her marriage, her hopes for the future, and her credibility. She’s still in shock when her father delivers more bad news: Natalie’s mom, who’s stricken with Alzheimer’s, has taken a turn for the worse. Natalie and her estranged sister Lindsay must return to Illinois to visit their parents before their mother forgets who they are.

Wigwam Motel, Holbrook Arizona
Lindsay is reluctant, and, adding salt to Natalie’s wounds, pregnant. But their mother is ailing, and the sparring sisters need to see her, fast. Flying to Illinois is out of the question for Lindsay. That leaves an old-fashioned car trip on The Mother Road, old Route 66—the historic two lane highway that, for decades, ran from the Santa Monica pier in Los Angeles to Chicago. (Are you thinking of the movie “Cars” yet? Or perhaps you're remembering the Bobby Troup/Depeche Mode song, which you can listen to while you read by clicking the youtube video at the end of the post. If you ever plan to motor west / Travel my way, take the highway that's the best. / Get your kicks on Route 66!)

The road trip is bumpy in every sense of the word, chock full of quirky pit stops, emotional hairpin turns, and speed as the sisters endure heavy pursuit by Lindsay’s stalking ex-boyfriend, Ben. As the sisters drive toward the unknown, things start to change for Natalie—in her relationship with Lindsay, and within her heart. Only God can get her to Illinois without losing it, but maybe He has other plans for her once she gets there.

The Mother Road is a road-trip book at its best, with engaging scenery, witty banter, and an end-of-road destination that may not be what the protagonist first expects. The characters are multi-layered and their experiences are familiar to most readers. Every woman who longs for motherhood can relate to Natalie's grief over her empty arms, and my heart ached for her. I also appreciated how she grows throughout the story. Natalie may be a relationship expert, but she isn't the most attentive daughter, and she has a way of ignoring her problems until they're too large to deny.

In other words, Jennifer Allee's characters act like real people. Sometimes it seems like Christian characters say everything right, but that's a trait most of us won't be able to claim this side of heaven. In times of stress, Natalie sometimes speaks without thinking, and her quips occasionally worsen a situation. The way humans respond to each other in this story, with grace and also judgment, reveals a lot about how Christians should strive to be with one another, but often fall short.

Disappointment, betrayal, and a devastating disease are handled with moving realism—there are no easy answers here—but the story isn’t bogged down in grief. I love how Jennifer Allee writes with shades of light and dark, realism and humor, and she made me laugh out loud several times. Her style is engaging and engrossing, and I’ve been waiting for The Mother Road for a long time.

It was a journey I’m glad I took.

Don't forget to leave your email addy in the comments to enter the drawing for a copy of The Mother Road!

Have you ever visited part of Route 66?


To follow Route 66, visit this site:

The Mother Road is available on Amazon and your favorite Christian retailers.
Susanne Dietze has written love stories since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,


  1. Don't forget to leave your email (safely!) in the comment section to enter the drawing for a copy of Jen's book!

    What's everybody up to this busy weekend? Right now my house smells like boiled eggs...we'll dye them when they've cooled a bit. Gotta love that smell.

  2. This is a lovely review, Susie. I love your word usage, and your character insight. If I hadn't read the book already, you would have enticed me to read it for sure.

  3. Thanks so much for the review, Susie! You're awesome :)

    It's been a long time since I dyed Easter eggs, and since Billy is still away on Spring Break, I won't even be hiding a basket this year. (Yes, he's been too old for a basket for years, but we do it for fun.) Hope you all have a blessed Resurrection celebration!

  4. Excellent review, Susie. I haven't read the book yet, but the way you phrased the review makes me want to drop everything and read it.

    What am I doing? I'm taking photos of a snowy world. A late winter blizzard left everything with a couple inches of heavy, wet snow. It's not cold, but sloppy. The farmers are dancing in the mud and hubby is happy he's not working this weekend.

    Meanwhile, I'm out in my office with 2 goals... to load part 2 of the WW2 memorabilia pics on Author Memories... and second, to think up an idea/plot/storyline for a new project opportunity my agent dropped in my lap yesterday. :) I'm multi-tasking and writing ideas down as my photos load.

    And in the house, the guys are practising their worship music for tomorrow.

  5. Hey Suzie! Thanks for the kind words. I happen to think your book reviews are mighty fine. :)

    Isn't this book fun? I loved it. Looking forward to Jen's Christmas book!

  6. Hey Jen! Well, three of the 18 eggs we boiled cracked, so we had egg salad for lunch. The bummer about dyeing eggs is that you have all of these eggs...and you get sick of them pretty quickly.

    But not the house smells like vinegar :)

  7. Anita, I would say, "drop everything and read this book!" Except it sounds like you have something big cooking! Hooray! I can't wait to hear what it is. Until then, you keep up the good work.

    We have nice weather this afternoon. I went to the Farmer's Market this morning and it was just perfect, sunshine and a breeze. Then I cut some flowers for the floral cross we have at church--freesia and rose, mainly. Really a lovely day.

  8. Our town has a major part of Route
    66 that goes through it! We have a wonderful Route 66 festival every year, when several old cars are making their journey on the route...
    Lots of fun!
    This books founds very enjoyable.
    Thanks, Cindi

  9. Hey Cindi! The festival sounds like a lot of fun. I look forward to visiting some of the sights alone Route 66 sometime!

    You're entered into the drawing. Thanks for stopping by and entering!


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