TRAVELING LIGHT by Lynne Branard

From the publisher:

This novel was inspired by real-life events: when the author was working at a hospice agency, an unclaimed box of ashes—with her agency’s business card attached—was discovered in a storage facility. Branard became intrigued by how the remains of someone could get lost—and how the discovery could be the perfect catalyst for a life change.

In TRAVELING LIGHT, Alissa Wells is the one who becomes the surprise new owner of remains—Roger Hart’s, to be exact—after she bids on an abandoned storage unit. She decides that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life. So she packs up her three-legged dog and starts driving from North Carolina to New Mexico. 

But when a waitress named Blossom hitches a ride with her, Al has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Al’s eyes to the road in front of her—and how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming.

I started this book late on a Saturday night. When I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer, I stopped reading just long enough to get a few hours of sleep. As soon as I woke up, I made a pot of coffee, poured myself a cup, and didn’t stop reading again until I reached the end.

Alissa’s mother died when she was just five years old, and she has basically been living by a script ever since: first, as caregiver to her sister and her father, and then as a journalist, helping her dad run their small-town newspaper. But the discovery of the box of ashes prompts her to embark on her greatest adventure, a long and life-changing road trip. I absolutely fell in love with Alissa and all the friends she made on her journey. I lived vicariously through their many adventures; I laughed and I cried. And I was inspired by these words:

I realize that most people die exactly the same way they live. Angry people die angry. Broken people die broken. Lonely people die lonely. Burdened people die burdened…Don’t forget, live how you want to die.

Now I can’t stop pondering the meaning of “traveling light.” And I am encouraged not only to begin letting go of some of the things in my own life that tend to weigh me down, but also to choose my traveling companions very wisely.

According to her website, the work of Lynne Branard (who also writes as Lynne Hinton and Jackie Lynn) has been compared to that of great writers like Eudora Welty, Rebecca Wells, and Jan Karon. And the journal Publishers Weekly says, “Hinton has a knack in her novels for tapping into a woman’s longings for lifelong, authentic, messy friendships.” This is certainly true of Traveling Light. Five enthusiastic stars! Very highly recommended!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 […] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.