4 out of 4 stars
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“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” – Harry Nilsson
What if the one career path you chose caused considerable anxiety to your family? When one wrong move, mechanical failure, or just being on the wrong side of the field (racetrack) at the wrong time increases the probability of you meeting the grim reaper sooner rather than later. What If your first love wouldn’t stand by to watch you risk your life? Would all of that be enough to convince you to abandon your childhood dream?
‘Lucky in life, unlucky in love.’ Alex Król, our protagonist, once found himself in such a quandary. Through his interview with Alicia Abney, a freelance writer; we are taken on a trip down memory lane. This trip takes us through the ups and downs, struggles, and losses (the whole package) of being a race car driver during the golden era of racing. It is not long after he begins his career that it starts to cause an obvious strain in his relationship with his girlfriend, Gail Russell. Will they work it out or will he lose her forever? Will he fulfill his dream of becoming one of the best racecar drivers and still manage to come out unscathed?
500 Miles to Go by J. Conrad Guest is a riveting account of a racecar driver; a narrative that hurls readers’ full force into the world of racing. The fact that this book is a work of fiction blows my mind. As soon as I was a few chapters in, I searched Google for an Alex Król, because that’s how real the character and story feel. The more I read on, the more I felt compelled to search for other characters introduced. And behold; some of them did appear, and that is how I continued to read the book till the very end. With brief stops to fact check. The author did a brilliant job of melding fact and fiction that the narrative was incredibly believable. In doing so, I learned so much about the legends of the sport, both living and dead. I had a little bit of a proud moment when one of my favorite scientists mentioned in an interview I was watching — a racing legend by name and I immediately recognized and knew who he was speaking of, when before I would not have had a clue.
When I first chose this book, I had no idea that it would be the one to have me teary-eyed. This was such a profound read. And I’m grateful that I got to read it. The plot and setting worked exceptionally well to create a very realistic story. The characters were multidimensional that I couldn’t help but feel like they were real. Some of the characters were likable and others not so much as you’d have it naturally in a tale whose major theme involves high-stakes racing. Other themes included: ambition, romance, betrayal, friendship, separation, grief, and death.
The blurb convinced me to read the book even though I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the racing aspect, I thought I might enjoy the romance bits. However, I was in for a surprise; I enjoyed every bit of it, and I found myself anticipating the racing bits equally as much. From the very first page up to the last, there was no dull moment. I think that is the mark of a great author. One that convinces you his creation/world is real and can garner interest in a topic from readers who otherwise had not paid attention to the subject or had no prior interest in it. I could tell there was a lot of research that went into writing the book. I had no doubt that the author really knows his stuff having attended the Indy races and the amount of information shared in the book. One of the things that I liked was that the narrative invoked different emotions from me excitement, anxiety, and even grief alongside the characters. I especially liked that the romance wasn’t predictable. I appreciated that it took a mature front.
The book appeared to be professionally edited which made reading it a breeze. I honestly can’t find anything that I didn’t like; which is why I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I feel I should mention that there were a few instances where swear words were used, moderate description of sex scenes. I have no problem with such content. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a high-quality novel with elements of historical fiction, racecar driving, and romance.
500 Miles To Go
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