Title: Just Shut Up and Drive by Chynna Laird
Genre: Coming of Age, Contemporary
One teen, one cranky old man, and the open road. What could go wrong?
Eighteen-year-old Wil Carter can think of more than a fistful of things he’d rather do than go on a road trip with his ninety-five-year-old grandfather. But when Gramps Wilf barks an order, you listen or get an earful of grief.
Wil lost his parents in a horrible car accident when he was five. Gramps has been the only parent he has ever known. Now that he’s ready to go off to college, the old man says he has things Wil needs to learn to be the man he’s supposed to be. But the trip turns out to be more than he bargains for.
Along their week-long road trip across the Canadian Prairies, Wil not only learns tidbits about his own life but realizes the grandfather he thought he knew has mysteries of his own. With each stop they make, a new layer of emotional truth is revealed…for each of them.
Will Gramps teach Wil what he needs to know before the journey ends? And is Wil strong enough to hear it?
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“Good grief, boy!” Gramps yelled. “You drive like an old lady on a Sunday afternoon drive. Don’t be afraid to push down on that gas pedal.”
“Gramps,” Wil sighed. “I’m going the speed limit. Anyway, what is the hurry?”
“The hurry is I hate being a passenger, especially yours,” he said, emphasizing each word. “And watch your mouth, boy. You aren’t too old for me to give a whoppin’ to.”
“You’re just ticked because they won’t let you drive anymore. It’s your own fault for not taking care of your eyes. And for the record, I’m not exactly thrilled at the moment having you as a passenger.”
“You better watch your attitude, or I’ll take this truck back.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was Dad’s, right? And I think you told me he wanted you to give it to me. Guess that means it isn’t yours to take.”
Gramps got a sour look on his stern face, like he’d just sucked on a lime. “Don’t you be talking to me like I’m some crazy old coot who’s lost his mind. I remember what I said. Shoulda charged you for it, considering the lip I have to put up with every time I’m gonna be in here with you.”
“And what makes you think I’m going to drive you around everywhere in this beautiful truck? I’ll chauffeur you around in my car.”
“That piece of crap? Hmph. Forget it.”
Wil stared at the road ahead of them. “You could take a cab, you know. Or the bus.” Sam Hill help the poor drivers.
“Nah,” Gramps said, slugging back the rest of his coffee and shoving the empty cup in a plastic bag. “I get much more pleasure out of torturing you than I would a stranger.”
I noticed. “Alrighty, then. So you got a plan for us, or are we just going to keep going until we run out of gas?”
Gramps crossed his arms over his chest and looked out his window. “First stop is gonna be Elie.”
Wil released a sharp breath and squinted. “Seriously? There’s, like, 100 people living there.”
“Six hundred and fifty.”
“Close enough. And I’m sure the census people were able to gather them all in one place and count them at once. C’mon, Gramps. What could possibly be in that small town worth checking out? If we drive straight on, we can get to Portage la Prairie for lunch—”
“Just because a place isn’t all lit up like Vegas doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be visited,” Gramps interrupted. “Some places need to be seen because they’re gold mines for memories. We’re stopping at Elie.”
Wil had a smart-butt retort clinging to the tip of his tongue, but he held it there after giving Gramps a side-glance. The old man rested his chin on his right fist and stared out his window.
“Fine. I guess we’re stopping at Elie,” Wil mumbled.
Like my vote even counted.