Monday, August 02, 2021

Go West, Young Man - B.J. Hollars


Go West, Young Man
, B.J. Hollars’s account of the Oregon Trail road trip he shared with his six-year-old son, Henry, will be a fun read for anyone who enjoys similar road trips of their own. Smartly, Hollars spends a substantial amount of time in this travel memoir exploring his evolving relationship with Henry (who, if he is even half as precocious as his dad portrays him to be here, is quite the character) as the long hours in the car began to wear a bit on both of them. It didn’t hurt, too, that I read Go West, Young Man during my own 5,000 mile road trip with my nineteen-year-old grandson. As we came upon some of the landmarks highlighted in the Hollars book, I knew what to expect, which landmarks to explore more deeply, and was happier and happier that my grandson was enjoying the trip — and (supposedly) my company — as much as I had hoped he would.


B.J. and Henry were on a mission to rediscover America, both as the country was in the past and the way it is today. And they did it the hard way. They usually camped out along the way, very rarely breaking up the camping routine by a hotel stay or a night spent in the home of friends. And I suspect that the occasional thunderstorm or heavy winds they endured and conquered will likely turn out to be some of their strongest memories of the entire trip. 


Father and son met their goals: they completed the Oregon Trail together and they met enough people along the way, including cross country truck drivers, to get a good feel about both the things that still bind Americans together and the things, mostly political, that so destructively divide those same Americans today. Mr. Hollars used the trip as a means of educating his young son to the realities of the exploitive nature of America’s move west, and what he has to say on the subject is a disturbing reminder of how destructive the westward migration of settlers was to the native peoples already there. 


Bottom Line: Go West, Young Man is fun. I think it’s a little heavy-handed at times on the guilt trip associated with the author’s reaction to how terribly our native peoples were treated by white settlers of the day, but there are plenty of reasons — and takeaways — to read this fun travel memoir. I have to admit that I particularly enjoyed reading about the author’s interface with Henry during such an extended road and camping trip, but I also learned much about the key spots along the Oregon Trail and how important it was to this country’s westward expansion. I recommend this one to all the road-trippers out there. You’ll enjoy it.


B.J. Hollars

Review Copy provided by Publisher

16 comments:

  1. I love the cover on this one and it sounds quite interesting. Hope you will tell us about your recent travels in another post. Welcome back.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Diane. As much fun as the trip was, I'm kind of glad to sleep in my own bed again after 15 nights on the road. I do plan to put something together about the trip when I catch up a bit. I'm really happy that we made the trip because so many people in that part of the country are fearful that next summer will be more restricted than this summer was.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sound like a very good read, Sam. It seems like it has a lot to offer, learning about Oregon and native people in the area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It covers it all, Tracy. I do a lot of "side-reading" about those days even though I don't always review the books (mainly because I read in and out of so many of them without ever finishing them), so what he had to say about the genocide of those days was not surprising. His son seem to be moved, though, by the revelations and kind of had his whole life-view changed...if that's really possible in a six-year-old. Henry came across as a super kid.

      Delete
  4. How great that you were able to read this while on your own road trip. It must have increased the appreciation of both the book and the trip. Welcome back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly right, Dorothy. It was the perfect book for the moment...kindred spirits.

      Delete
  5. I think your grandson is a better age to do this with than a 6 year old! I can't believe you drove 5000 miles!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 5,035 miles, to be exact, Nan. You're right...I don't think a six-year-old would have survived the quick pace of just over 5000 miles in 15 days. First day back, and I've napped a couple of hours without even trying. LOL

      Delete
  6. This is obviously a book I would enjoy! I'll have to see if I can track it down. But I do also have several other 'road-trip' themed books that I should also get to. Nice to have you back, Sam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cath. This is the one I mentioned on your book blog. It was published by The University of Nebraska, so I have no idea what the book's distribution will be like when it is published in four weeks. Good to be back, too...

      Delete
  7. Oh, this sounds good and certainly works well with your tendencies for road trips, Sam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never sleep well in hotels, Jen, so this one turned out to be a lifesaver on those nights I woke up three or four hours before the alarm was set to go off. The perfect book for the occasion...

      Delete
  8. Reading a book about a father/son roadtrip while you were ON a roadtrip with a grandson- sounds perfect. It's lovely when the surroundings echo what you're reading. (I really enjoy reading about gardening while sitting in my garden, but having a book about camping while I'm camping, or about an island while I'm at the beach, would be even better!) Hope your trip was fun and worthwhile!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was great fun, Jeane. I was surprised at the different attitudes that neighboring states have about COVID, etc. The most concerned group of all was the Navajo tribe, which I've been told by several different people has been very hard hit by the pandemic.

      Delete
  9. So fun to read a road trip book while you're on a road trip! I love when books and life align like that. Hope you had an awesome time with your grandson. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We really had a great time, Lark. One I'll never forget for lots of reasons, but mainly because of the quality time we were able to spend together. I enjoyed showing him some of my favorite places and exploring the ones that were new to both of us.

      Delete