21 August 2009

Review: Patron Saint of Used Cars by Mark Millhone

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
ISBN-13: 9781594868238
Challenges: A-Z Title, 999, 100+
YTD: 63
Rating: C+


Elena 8/21/09, 7:23 AM  


I've given you an award :)


Anonymous,  8/21/09, 8:01 AM  

i also read this one--and thought that millhone was pretty funny. i couldn't wrap my head around the his thought process, though. how could a new (used) car be the answer to the trauma he faced? is it a guy thing? maybe it's 'retail therapy'...have a bad day (or bad 9 months) and 'shop away' your blues.

i agree that he could have done more with explaining how they patched things up...but maybe the book was more about what got them to such a bad place to begin with?


Sandy Nawrot 8/21/09, 9:59 AM  

I'm thinking that buying a beemer as therapy is a guy thing. When mine gets a new car, he is aglow like a newborn baby. I LOVE this title, by the way. I would probably buy the book on that basis alone!

bermudaonion 8/21/09, 10:21 AM  

It almost sounds like a mid-life crisis in the midst of grief.

Unknown 8/21/09, 11:06 AM  

I have an award for you HERE!

rhapsodyinbooks 8/21/09, 11:26 AM  

How interesting that the answer is therapy - but it does sound more effective than a new car!

Anonymous,  8/21/09, 1:49 PM  

Nice review. The idea of therapy scares me- so for me, buying a car instead makes total sense :-)

Thanks so much for all the time you put into reading and reviewing The Patron Saint of Used Cars!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 8/21/09, 2:14 PM  

When I first read the title, I was reminded of Ann Patchett's book: Patron Saint of Liars...LOL

Yours sounds like a fun book.

Anonymous,  8/21/09, 6:41 PM  

Hmm. I'm not sure about this one. Thanks for telling me about it though :)

Margot at Joyfully Retired 8/21/09, 9:07 PM  

I think I might have liked the story better if the wife was on the road trip in the new car. I guess I'll just have to read it for myself.

Jenners 8/21/09, 9:31 PM  

Wouldn't it be nice if a car could solve problems like these? Sounds like the trip was his way of "paving" his way to deal with his wife and their problems ... too bad they didn't detail more on that.

The Reading Momster 8/21/09, 10:29 PM  

That's sad that they didn't mention what therapy they used. This one is not for me.

Kim Allen-Niesen 8/22/09, 3:25 AM  

Well, for some buying a car could be cheaper than therapy and most likely more fun. Thanks for the review!

Unknown 8/23/09, 8:08 AM  

I like reading memoirs like this one, when one person suffers from some kind of mental incapacitation and the loved ones suffer alongside. It happens all too often and it's good to know that some pull out of it. I think I will look into this book even though I can already tell that what you mentioned about the therapy and the process not being discussed in the book will irk me somewhat. I mean isn't it just as important?

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