The Saturday Afternoon Book Club: The Truth about Luck

I love this book. The writing is crisp and fresh, and it has an amazing grasp of the space between the young and the old.

I wondered, Would a young person like it too? And so, I asked my (young and lovely) intern, Alyssa Ashton, to read it.

P.S. I miss her already, she only left a few weeks ago.

And she loved it. Which made me happy. I was going to write the review myself. But Alyssa’s review is so crisp and fresh and young, like her. So I decided to use hers as a guest post. And so, here it is.

The Truth about Luck: What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma

By Alyssa Ashton

I never expected I would be crying over a gift of champagne mustard and red pepper jelly exchanged between two characters in a book. But I was, thanks to Iain Reid’s memoir, The Truth About Luck: What I Learned on My Road Trip with Grandma (House of Anansi, 2013).

The book chronicles Iain’s gift to his 92-year-old grandmother – a staycation at his home in Kingston, Ont.

Grandma is from Ottawa, so the road trip portion of the story is quite short. The focus is on the vacation at Iain’s home, where there is no hot water or Kleenex.

There are moments of almost unbearable awkwardness between the two. How can a guy who can’t remember ever washing his bathroom mirror entertain his pristinely-dressed-before-8 a.m. Grandma?

But Grandma, with her 90-plus years of wisdom, has the solution: sharing memories.

When Grandma tells stories of World War II, you are transported back to that time.

Like most elderly people, she starts telling one story and rambles her way into another. Soon she forgets what story she was supposed to be telling and, quite frankly, so had I.

That’s OK – that’s the power of this novel, it’s about getting lost in memories. There is no intricate plot to follow and keep track of. You can just float along Grandma’s memories because wherever they take her, they take you along.

I was surprised at how lovely I found this book. From the start – Iain sitting on the toilet contemplating his life – I knew I would laugh. But that’s all I expected from the story: a few laughs and a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Instead I found myself begging Grandma to share another memory from the war or another story about her whirlwind romance.

In the end, I cried. For two reasons: because the story was so touching and because I was sad it was over. If only the staycation could have lasted one more day.

How about you? What are you reading now?