Review: Driving Grandpa

An Unimpressive Drive

When I first read the title, I would admit that I expected a literary variant of the movie ‘Driving Miss¬†Daisy’ sans the racial conflicts. But after reading the full extent of the 126 pages of this story, I can only wish that this story was like Driving Miss Daisy.

The premise of this story would follow an unnamed narrator and his interactions with his grandfather Roy Steel, who regales him with stories of his time as a mechanic in World War Two. During this time, they deal with different events that range from a home invasion that could have been prevented before the events of this book to visiting an old friend (a widower named Betty) who after seeing for the first time in twenty years, beats him with a broom. Apart from that, there is really no means of a complete story. Despite having a number of side plots such as Roy getting his driver’s license and trying to find the home intruder a means into the military, there is not central story to follow. While there are several sections that have Roy’s recollections of his time in the military, they don’t actually relate to the current situation of the main characters. I know I am going to offend people by saying this, but the grandfather’s war stories feel like fluffy filler that provides nothing more than just a momentary distraction. If this was a story where there the focus was on the grandson trying to reconnect with the grandfather and he was using the stories as a means to weave in a stronger message, it would have worked. But as it is, it doesn’t serve any purpose. It also brings up the point that some of the side plots are not finished or brought back up. The reader never learns what happened with Roy and Betty or the Propeller; as quick as they are brought up, they are almost dropped immediately.

The characters of this story are honestly forgettable and do not leave much of an impact on the reader. Apart from Roy, we don’t even know much about the characters apart from what he has said about them. Speaking of the aforementioned narrator, the reader doesn’t even learn what his name is. Yeah, that is not mentioned anywhere in the novel and no one calls him by his name. It actually made me think that this story was going to pull a ‘Fight Club’ esque plot twist where the narrator was actually Roy on his death bed imagining his grandson and Old Gray¬†while working on foreclosed houses, but nope (Though that would be a great twist considering how little we actually know about the narrator). Another problem with the characters is that there is no means for the reader to connect with any of them. Part of what makes a story great is the ability to connect the reader to the characters and that is lacking in the story. Apart from brief moments, the characters hardly say or do anything. Characters like Uncle Jim and Betty have almost no say in this entire 126 page novel and what is said about them is through exposition dialogue. The only people in this story that have an active part would be the narrator and Roy and even then, the narrator plays second fiddle, hardly saying anything.

From other reviews on Amazon that were given to this book that called it ‘humorous’ and ‘nagging your heartstrings’, I didn’t find anyone of that in this story. A lot of the humor that was used in the story falls flat, not even earning so much as a smirk. As for creating an emotional response, there was nothing that even came close to that. If there was a portion of the story that described how the grandfather is dealing with the loss of his wife or the impact of seeing Betty after twenty years, then it would warrant an emotional response. But those are glimpsed over and almost ignored to a fault. I know I am in the minority for saying this, but this book is not that great.

I will have to give the author John Redstand credit for trying to create a story about a man and his grandfather, but this is honestly a weak piece of literature. If this was a grandfather telling stories while taking breaks to actually discuss the relevance between each one, then it would have worked. To Mr. Redstand, I am sorry but this could have been better. I realize that this was meant as a tribute to your grandfather, but this is a disorganized mess that starts off with honorable intentions but hardly goes anywhere.

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