In everyone's life there comes a time that lasts six months, a year, or eighteen months when you pray the phone doesn't ring, you wish you weren't an adult, and all you want to do is escape. Mark and Rose Millhone went through just such a period when they had to deal with everything from sicknesses to deaths, births, near deaths, and traumatic accidents. Although some couples grow closer as a result of adversity, others, like the Millhones, seem to lose each other.
There are no rules for grieving or for recovering from stress and pain. Mark copes by becoming a super-parent, whereas Rose retreats into herself and her work. When Mark notices that Rose is disconnecting from him and their sons, he suggests that she see a doctor, but she refuses to even consider it. As time goes by, they seem to barely communicate.
As a last-ditch effort to save his wife, himself, and their marriage, Mark decides that buying a beautiful, like-new, low-mileage, metallic blue BMW will be the answer to all his troubles. After Rose surprisingly agrees, Mark and his father fly to Texas to drive the car back to New York.
In The Patron Saint of Used Cars and Second Chances, Mark not only tells the story of the cross-country trip he takes with his father but also reflects on the series of stressful events that lead to the unraveling of his marriage. In a desperate attempt to find some answers, he is sure that the car and/or the drive will give him the key to help Rose reengage with him and with the outside world.
In the end, however, the solution to the Millhones' problems turns out to be therapy. Although Mark's road trip with his father and the memories it triggers may have started the process of healing, the car was not the answer. Only after Mark faces the inevitable and forces Rose to seek professional help is the marriage saved.
Unfortunately, we are not given any insight into just what kind of therapy worked for the Millhones or how long it took them to recover. Instead, we are taken from rock bottom to healed at the turn of a page.
On the other hand, Millhone is an entertaining writer even when delving into difficult areas. There are painful, touching, and amusing scenes as he remembers his childhood, his early marriage, and his role as a father. But although the look into the Millhones' life is well crafted, it offers few concrete lessons.
Thank you to TLC Tours for asking me to review this book.
Mark Millhone has a website where you can learn more about him and his work.
Published by Rodale, 2009
Challenges: A-Z Title, 999, 100+