Officially titled Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own, this is the cheeky, sarcastic and somewhat hoity-toity story of one woman’s year of living in a bus and traveling around the United States.
Doreen is a self-proclaimed princess when it comes to wearing the latest fashions, owning an outlandish array of footwear and avoiding dirt, so when her husband, Tim, suggests they spend a year traveling cross country on a bus, she asks “Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” But Doreen relents, and for one year, she and Tim hit the road, visiting 47 of the 50 states (they skip Hawaii, Kentucky and Rhode Island) by bus. Before leaving home, they outfit their wheels in the only way that would be fit for a queen—with the highest quality electronics, comfortable accommodations and plenty of liquor—but, predictably, she learns a lot about herself (including the fact that she doesn’t need hundreds of pairs of shoes) along the way.
Doreen is very honest about her high expectations about living the luxe life, but I found her and her writing funny and endearing. She could have come off as condescending and obnoxious, but her tone is so over-the-top that her tales of holding the bus door closed while rolling down the highway and taking pictures of Tim while he pees into the Mississippi River are just ludicrous. She over dramatizes everything—bugs, heat, fear, physical excursion—to the point of complete ridiculousness.
Though this is a story about Doreen and Tims’s year of living and traveling in the bus, the author sprinkles in tales about the places they visit along the way. For example, she talks about how she was pleasantly surprised with Crazy Horse in South Dakota and what its historic significance is, and she finds a new appreciation for architecture in Virginia. Though Doreen is liberal with her commentary in describing those sites that stood out to her (whether positively or negatively), it is her encounters with other people that really bring the story to life. Rich in dialogue and depiction, the quirky guy who loves Jimmy Buffet, the receptionist who greets them in Key West and dozens of others become real people on the page.
Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own is a humorous, light-hearted read that can’t be taken too seriously. Sure, Doreen learns something about herself as she leaves her comfort zone to travel for several months on a bus, but for readers, the ride is a simple one. Pick this up for an easy, fun read to tickle the wanderlust.
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