5 out of 5 Stars
Thank you for checking out my stop on this tour with Xpresso Book Tours! Feel free to follow the rest of the your with the schedule at the end of the post!
“Stewart presents readers with a dynamite coming-of-age story … A tale spins its answer to an age-old question into an inclusive, hilarious, and thought-provoking yarn.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Grandma’s Last Will and Testament names Ray to inherit the trailer park. It’s a million-dollar estate with one hitch: to prove he’s not as aimless as he seems, Ray must discover the meaning of life by the end of the month. (She left the answer in an envelope.) If he fails, the camp goes to his estranged family.
How does anyone find the meaning of life while running a park full of misfit miners, would-be truck racers, and one demanding little girl? There’s a bear too. A grizzly. Maybe that’ll help?
Ray is just an ordinary 17 year old. He wants to relax, play his video games (with the DOZENS of people who watch him play), and eat his weight in Kraft Dinner. That is all about to change when his Grandma dies.
“Grandma was rich. She owned Sunny Days RV Park and wasn’t all that pleased about getting old, so she’d arranged for the freezer people to come and freeze her if by chance she kicked it. Grandma always told everyone her Last Will and Testament would be a “doozy .”
“You can take my park, but I’m gonna want it back when I resurrect like Jesus,” she’d say.”
When he’s named in the will to inherit everything if he can discover “the meaning of life” his family is livid, leaving him to run “Sunny Days” RV park all on his own. But, how easy can it be for a 17 year old to realize the meaning of life? How easy is it for ANY of us at any age to figure it out?
“This video’s right. There is no meaning. How can there be? When we die everything is forgotten. There is no purpose. And don’t say ‘going to heaven ’ because I don’t believe in that.”
With words of wisdom from respected people at the park,
“A person’s life is long and the ending of it doesn’t tell the tale. Unfortunately, it is what we most remember.”
“Fear is nothing to be afraid of ,” Salminder replies. “Letting it control you is the problem.”
And a bootcamp with the T.V guru, Dalen Andres, his grandma hired,
“Worry, worry, worry. Most of the stuff we worry about never happens . Worry is a symptom that you live too much in the future. You can’t afford negative thoughts, not a one. Not a single bad one about yourself or about anyone else.”
“I can’t do that— they just pop into my head.”
He sits beside me and takes my hands. It’s weird because I can’t remember the last time a man, a person of any kind, has touched me in so intimate a way. It’s not sexual or anything, it just doesn’t happen to me. I cringe from it, but he holds.
“They don’t pop into your head.” Dalen’s intense eyes hardly blink. “You control them. If there’s anything I can teach you, it’s that. Only you are in control of your thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions, actions to habit, habit to destiny. In fact, my friend, your thoughts are the only thing in your control.”
He’s going to try his hardest (of the hardest a 17 year old can try!) to figure it out.
It’s not going to be easy though. Ray has some seriously insightful concerns that I’m sure have plagued all of us in our lives. In a day where the internet is everywhere, how can we feel like the best when the one in a million is always being flaunted in our faces? What’s the point of trying if we can never be the best?
I’m going to take a wild guess that I can find people out there better at everything than me. Why focus on anything when there’s no way I have a chance at being the best at it?”
This book was so much deeper and more meaningful than I ever expected. I will be honest and say that I requested to be on this tour because I loved that the cover looked like “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life”. This is the 2nd time that I’ve requested to be part of a blog tour for a silly reason and it has been an AMAZING BOOK!! I think this may be my criteria for the future! Ray may not have been the most lovable character, but he was a character that grew up through the course of the book. You couldn’t help but root for him even as he tries to give up. His reasons and feelings are so valid that everyone will surely relate to him (at least I hope it’s not just me!!). He sees things through the eyes of a child, but also as a man, understanding what a lot of adults would miss or take for granted.
“Hi, Mr. Ray.” She smiles big. “Is the iceberg melted?” For a second I look inside to my stomach, but panic-berg’s still there.
“Almost,” I say. “Maybe tomorrow. Did you know an iceberg sank the Titanic? They can be huge and dangerous.”
A tiny furrow appears between her eyebrows. I wondered when those wrinkles start, and here I am seeing this one begin. If all it takes for a kid to be successful is one person to believe in them, then maybe all it takes is one person for a kid to distrust, to start the brow wrinkle.
“My mommy said tomorrow means one more sleep. It’s been . . .” She starts counting on her fingers and runs out. “Yeah, I know. Not everyone’s tomorrow’s the same. But this time it’s one more sleep.”
She smiles again , but I see that the furrow’s still there. And I know where they come from. Broken promises.”
I loved the messages and values that this book teaches. I won’t ruin what those are… you’ll have to find out for yourselves when you read it. I WILL say, that this book will touch all of you. It will make you think, and it will make you question. For all those lost souls out there, it may give you some guidance (while also giving you a laugh!)
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Michael F. Stewart embraces all forms of storytelling. In 2009, he created Bully For You for Scholastic Canada, a fully functioning social media platform with an embedded interactive story. He’s written graphic novels for Rubicon Publishing’s Boldprint series, illustrated early readers and novellas for Pearson (coming in 2019!), non fiction texts on Corruption and Children’s Rights; he even tried to convince the world that we needed a location based storytelling app with augmented reality (NARR8R)-we still do! He’s written adult horror, sci-fi, urban fantasy, and adventure. He’s even written books you’ll never find. But nothing is ever wasted. His most recent book, Counting Wolves, a contemporary YA, was named to Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2017” list. The Boy Who Swallows Flies (2018) won Killer Nashville’s Claymore Award, and the Assured Destruction Series won The Creation of Stories: Best YA Award at the Toronto International Book Fair. In 2016, Michael was selected to join the CFC/Entertainment One TV Adaptation Lab. Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he was the Ottawa Public Library’s Writer in Residence and runs free writing workshops. To learn more about Michael and his next projects visit him at:
Ray Vs The Meaning of Life is Best Served with
A Honey Bear Cocktail
- 1oz Bourbon
- 1oz Citrus-Sage Syrup (recipe below)
- 2oz Apple Cider
- Orange slices and sage leaves, for garnish
- Ice cubes
Directions for Citrus Sage Syrup
On high heat, combine the water, honey, sugar, 8 sage leaves, and 2 orange slices in a medium skillet.
Allow to boil and then simmer for 2 -3 minutes (or until the honey and sugar have dissolved).
Strain mixture into a mason jar and allow to cool to room temperature
Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Directions for Honey Bear
Fill glasses with ice, a shot of your favorite bourbon, and then evenly pour the simple syrup you just made equally into 4 glasses.
Top the glasses off with more sage leaves, an orange slice, and a splash of apple cider.
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