In L.G.’s debut drama, a divorced man finds his calling as a truck driver, as the open road provides an escape from a life that’s been defined by failure.
Forty-something Sam Yost is stunned when his wife and the mother of his children, Chrystal, announces that she’s leaving him—and that she’d planned to do so for years. Tired of construction work and wanting a change of scenery, Sam becomes inspired by his brother-in-law and roommate Doug’s occupation as a truck driver, and he aims to become one himself. He takes a course to earn a commercial driver’s license; back in high school, he used to perform poorly on tests, and now he’s anxious about his instructor’s scrutiny from the passenger’s seat. Nevertheless, Sam prevails, but he’s soon faced with tribulations on the road, such as witnessing the aftermath of a horrific car collision and dealing with his truck sliding on ice. He takes solace in frequenting truck-stop diners, as the food reminds him of his tenderhearted mom, who used to console him with home-cooked meals. A waitress catches his eye, but he’s anxious about asking her out. He eventually realizes that all he needs is confidence, which is something that he has when he’s behind the wheel. The author smartly details the basics of operating a truck in lengthy sections devoted to Sam’s driving class; he does so by contrasting trucks with smaller vehicles—noting, for instance, the difference between air brakes and the better-known hydraulic variety. This amplifies certain scenes, including an unnerving moment when Sam nearly loses control of his rig during a turn onto an interstate. However, the story is at its best when it highlights the protagonist’s internal strife. Sam is shown to be socially awkward and possibly dyslexic, and the author draws on his protagonist’s recurrent childhood memories to show how he slowly gains self-respect in later life. With all this in mind, this is a surprisingly upbeat tale, as Sam revels in tiny victories: “Finding good diners on the road was kind of like finding a long-lost friend.”
A story with a well-developed protagonist who becomes more appealing as he overcomes obstacles.