Still reeling from the recent loss of his beloved mother, Michael Garland, a 30-year-old computer coder, is presented with two surprise letters at her attorney's office. One details Evelyn's last wishes - that he take her ashes to her birthplace of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and the other he is to open after he has fulfilled her wish. He also learns that he has "inherited" her old car to escort him on the drive and her little pug Puddles, who is to be his road crew companion.
This presents Michael with a quandary - as not only is he a virtual recluse, living a highly organised, if sometimes lonely and cloistered life, he cannot drive and has no sense of direction. Embarking on this journey will mean he will have to leave his safe haven and also take time out from his work, which is on the brink of a major deal which will set him up for life.
However, still feeling immense guilt from not being with his mother at the end, Michael feels he cannot disappoint Evelyn - not least as she promises to haunt him from the other side if he fails to carry out this task. So, after passing his driving test and with Puddles and his best friend Savannah at his side, Michael sets out in his Mother's trusty Volvo, armed with a GPS and a torch, in case of any pesky bedbugs he may encounter in strange hotels, to take her "home". But, as Michael is to learn, even though you have instructions to follow, life does not always go to plan.
This was a very emotional book to read. The lead character of Michael was so well written with the author capturing in him the many emotions individuals feel when they lose a loved one, particularly in the case of a parent: guilt, anger, loss of self and loneliness. By carrying out his Mum's last wishes, Michael is taken out of his safety zone and forced to confront and deal with situations which are so far removed from his orderly and reclusive life. As his journey progresses, Michael grows in confidence and learns so much about himself and his mother, discovering an inner strength which he never thought he had. Michael finds that life goes on and the spirit of our loved ones carries on with us, particularly with his own beloved mother, who in making him take this trip shows that it is true that mums do know best.
A warm, witty and wise book, this was a joy to read. Guaranteed to make you smile. (LP)