A review by apostrophen
Detours by Jeffrey Ricker


I bumped into Jeffrey Ricker for the first time when I read his short story “At the End of the Leash.” It was a charming story, a gentle piece with a sweet romance potentially botched by the snowball effect of a little white lie of omission. The humour was deft without slugging you in the face, the sweetness didn’t approach saccharine, and the overall effect left a real smile on my face.

It also featured a wonderful dog and made my husband point out that none of the story could have happened with a cat, and thus I should relent and allow him to get us a dog.

DETOURS delivers all these elements – the charm, the romance, the potential disaster to said romance via a few bad choices on the part of our hero, and the balance of humour and sweetness that I’ve come to love from Ricker’s writing. Joel has just come back from London where he may have just met the man of his dreams and has landed to tragedy – his mother has died. When he’s asked to unload the RV his parents bought by driving it to the new owners in San Francisco, everything combines to spark Joel to make some serious life choices – without any thought to what comes after – and soon he’s juggling the bad news fella who has invited himself along for the ride, a series of small disasters, and his mother’s ghost, who definitely hasn’t forgotten how to push his buttons. His discoveries about himself – and his mother’s past – collide over and over during these bumps along the way.

The relationship between Joel and his (departed) mother is wonderfully written. She is sly and witty, and a wonderful foil for Joel, who is suffering from a realistic sense of inertia, even as he barrels onward towards San Francisco. He’s sometimes on the edge of pathetic, but you want to step inside the book and give him a hug (before you slap him across the face and tell him to snap out of it).

DETOURS is a wonderful, gentle, sweet, and funny book. I enjoyed everything about it.
Oh, yeah, and there’s a dog. I should probably start picking out a collar and some food bowls.