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Download The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family Audiobook, by Mike Leonard Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (523 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mike Leonard Narrator: Marc Cashman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2006 ISBN: 9781415934043
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Mike Leonard is a lucky man. It’s not everyone who gets parents like Jack and Marge. At eighty-seven, Jack is a pathological optimist with an inexhaustible gift of gab. Marge, Jack’s bride of sixty years, though cut from the same rough bolt of Irish immigrant cloth, is his polar opposite–pessimistic and proud of it. What was their son, Mike, thinking when he took a sabbatical from his job with NBC News so he could pile these two world-class originals along with three of his grown kids and a daughter-in-law into a pair of rented RVs and hit the road for a month?

Mike was thinking that he wanted to give his parents the ultimate family reunion. And so, one February morning, three generations of Leonards set out on their journey under the dazzling Arizona sky. Thirty minutes later, one of the humongous recreational vehicles has an unplanned meeting with a concrete island at a convenience store. Thus begins the adventure of a lifetime–and an absolute gem of a book.

In the course of their humorous, often poignant cross-country tour, from the desert Southwest to the New England coastline, the Leonards reminisce about their loves, their losses, and their rich and heartwarming (and sometimes heartbreaking) lives, while encountering a veritable Greek chorus of roadside characters along the way. The home stretch finds the clan racing back to Chicago, hoping to catch the arrival of the next generation, Jack and Marge’s first great-grandchild. Through it all, Mike pieces together a century of family lore and lunacy—and discovers surprising sides to his parents that allow him to see them in a whole new light.

Mike Leonard has captivated millions of television viewers with his wry and witty feature stories for NBC’s Today. Now he brings that same engaging charm and keen insight to the foibles and passions of his own blessedly unique family. By turns uproariously funny and deeply moving, The Ride of Our Lives delivers a lifetime of laughs, lessons, and priceless memories.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mike Leonard is a national treasure and his touching, hilarious, instructive account of a loving road trip with his parents and children should be required reading in every family. I’m sending it to all my children so they can share the laughs and the tears. Tom Brokaw, author of The Greatest Generation
  • Mike Leonard has generously invited the rest of us along for a ride aboard his land yacht, the "S.S.Fiasco." And what a ride it is. Profound and profoundly funny, Leonard takes us on a journey deep into the heart of his family. He has been blessed with characters who are as bizarre, maddening, unpredictable and hilarious as any dreamt up by Hollywood -- and they are his real-life parents! "The Ride of Our Lives" reads like intimate dispatches from your funniest friend, and is as touching and whimsical as a series of home movies unspooling from an American childhood. Amy Dickinson, syndicated advice columnist, "Ask Amy"

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Thebestdogmom Stiner | 2/17/2014

    " Interesting enough book. His parents cracked me up! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynell | 2/13/2014

    " This was a book that was full of quirky characters and wonderful descriptions of the differences in the generations. The author, in taking his parents and several children on a long RV-style road trip, creates a wonderful opportunity for several generations to get to know each other better. Our readers enjoyed the way the author cut back and forth from past to present. His writing was spare but with wonderful detail. We enjoyed reading about how he stumbled upon his life's work. Especially poignant was his descriptions of how his parents kept their sadness to themselves. The experiences of the characters in the book caused us to reflect on the changes in society and how returning to the past is never the same. It is better to keep our memories. We awarded 4.25 stars to this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sonny | 2/8/2014

    " This was a lot of fun to read and it provided some triggers to reflect on road trips, family time, the craziness of families, and love. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 2/4/2014

    " Very hilariou from the opening line... great narrator, too. There were some slow parts. Overall, great idea, and thanks for sharing it with the readers! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Daly | 1/27/2014

    " Brilliant, funny, insightful and a must read for anyone who has ever tried to travel with parents... Loved it. Pure joy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elisa | 1/14/2014

    " I enjoyed Mike Leonard's feature stories on the Today Show and also his son Brendan's short lived show on ABC Family. This book, which comes with a DVD, was just another of the many collections of family stories that are on the shelves. Leonard put it best when he said,"..when you add up all those trivial events and then follow the lines connecting one small life to the next, the end result is often beyond your wildest imagination." He took his parents on a cross country trip in an RV whose end reward was the birth of their first great granddaughter. What a great gift to all involved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie Abigail | 1/8/2014

    " I think we all read this book in our house the spring before getting our trailer at Lakeside. It was a fabulous retelling of Mike Leonard's journey across the country in a motor home with his aging parents. I love Mike Leonard's pieces on the Today Show and this was just a longer version. It's funny and touching. A great read for just about anyone! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debra | 12/26/2013

    " Though not technically a memoir but a story about this inter-generational family traveling the country, I felt it was a memoir of two lives - the authors and his parents. Hilarious at parts and poignant at others, this truly was a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paulette | 12/18/2013

    " Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Brought back memories of my own childhood...and the present commiseration of dealing with my own parents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 12/5/2013

    " Offbeat intergenerational family road trip made me laugh out loud! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Pam | 11/22/2013

    " A bit of fun, but very forgetable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 11/15/2013

    " This is one of, if not my favorite book...It made me laugh out loud so many times but was also quiet and reflective. I recommend to everyone! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 10/22/2013

    " I laughed out loud and cried while reading this book. I enjoyed the ride! The author's mother does tend to swear a lot though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 10/4/2013

    " Wonderful story of a man who takes his 80+ year old parents on an RV trip of their lifetime. I loved it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 8/30/2013

    " Fun story - but reader beware - Grandma has a potty mouth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kylie Towers | 7/13/2013

    " Anyone who has traveled in the United States will enjoy this book. I take that back, if you've ever spent time with multiple generations - traveling or not - you'll enjoy this book. I've loaned my copy three times and have purchased for several others! Hysterical, sad, poignant, fabulous. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nan | 3/8/2013

    " I love memoirs and this was a good one. Reminded me of Bill Bryson's Thunderbolt Kid. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat | 1/5/2013

    " Easy read. Mike Leonard tells the story of taking his parents in an RV on a trip through 18 states. He tells it like it is. This guy has worked for NBC news doing feature stories. He never had anything handed to him, he just stayed positive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 10/25/2011

    " Hilarious account of TV journalist Mike Leonard and his family's cross country road trip in a Winnebago. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Irene | 9/30/2011

    " What a wonderful book to listen to on a long trip. This made me laugh, cry and get nostalgic as we listened to the stories of Mike Leonard and his elderly parents traveling cross country in an RV. I really loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 6/27/2011

    " Ever consider taking a month long trip across the country in a rented RV with your 80 years old parents, three grown children, and a daughter-in-law? Read this hilarious book before you do. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 June | 4/3/2011

    " True story of an NBC feature writer taking his elderly parents on a 30-day road trip with 3 of his adult children. Parts of the story are hilarious. To me, the author spent too much time complaining about the habits of his parents. It was a good read though but nothing memorable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roberta | 1/29/2011

    " Mike Leonard keeps a really nice journal of his trip through 18 states with his elderly parents, his 2 sons, one daughter, and one daughter-in-law with the ultimate destination of Chicago for the birth of his first grandchild. It was a good story with a very sweet ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 6/1/2010

    " I listened to this from audible.com. The book just made me feel good -- an extended family that survived a long RV ride cross-country and came out enriched. Worth reading or listening to "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca | 8/3/2008

    " Didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Did like the grandparent's stories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bethia | 11/19/2007

    " lovedlovedloved it. The picture of his Dad breaking out into spontaneous weird song is priceless. A laugh out loud delight. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 10/31/2007

    " Everyone in this book could be one of my family members. Poignant and hilarious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kelaine | 5/17/2007

    " Needed tissue with this one...from laughter and sadness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tobi | 5/15/2007

    " This was a fun, easy read about a family that takes a road trip with aging parents. It was a book club pick and we had fun talking about how it would be if we all took such a trip. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zimmermc | 1/17/2007

    " Great book to read for anyone with aging parents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Betty Stenz | 4/26/2006

    " I enjoyed this book. I found myself laughing out loud and feeling a little sad. This book was a easy read. "

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About the Narrator

Marc Cashman is a four-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for audiobook narration. His voice has also been heard locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally on radio, television, film, documentaries, radio plays, and video games.