Sam Batinovich, forty-ish, a traveling salesman of industrial-strength cleaner to restaurants and diners, makes his usual run from Oakland through northern Nevada and back. But this time things aren't so usual, mostly because Sam just weeks ago lost a teenage daughter to a brain tumor and also because he happens to pick up a hitchhiker--Katy Daniels, a pregnant 17-year-old returning home to Berkeley after Aspen proved a bummer. With Katy reminding him of his dead daughter, you can imagine (but Doty tells you anyway--in tomtomming prose) what a mess of feelings go coursing through Sam's mind, heart, and body. (""Julianna, running, running, dying, dying. Footsteps in the hall. She can't come back. Running doctors in white coats. Nothing, nothing."") And when Sam picks up someone else besides, a boy named George who jams in tight next to Katy, the grief-weary, testy, confused salesman throws both of them out and drives away. But Katy and Sam will meet again, in Winnemucca, Nevada, where Doty has assembled everyone in hopes that maybe, between them, they'll devise a way to end this maladroit first novel. An obvious and ragged retread of the tired, 1960s-ish, two-mismatched-souls-on-the-road genre.