SHE RODE A HARLEY by Mary Jane  Black


A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles
Email this review


Black’s debut memoir chronicles her escape from an abusive husband into the arms of a man from whom she learns the joy of deep love—and motorcycling.

It was 1995, and Black was looking around the partially empty house, where she “first came as an eighteen-year-old bride.” She was never in love with her husband, Tom, but sought “safety from the battlefield of [her] parents’ marriage.” This would be her second attempt at leaving. The first time, she had told her son, Steven, who told his father. “It had cost [her] bruised ribs and a twisted arm.” This time she took only Stephanie, her 15-year-old daughter, with her and began her new life. Reluctantly, she accepted a blind-date invitation for dinner with her friend Vicky; Vicky’s boyfriend, Tod; and Dwayne, a gregarious Texan. And so began an interesting and complicated love story. A whirlwind courtship of letters, daily calls, and 600-mile trips between Missouri and Texas followed. Black was a schoolteacher and Dwayne a Harley motorcycle mechanic. Eventually, she moved to Texas. After they married, he taught her how to ride a motorcycle, rebuilding a 1980 Harley for her to join him on his weekend rides. Secondary characters, including Dwayne’s mother and daughter and Black’s children, offer an inside peek into biker life and provide context for understanding the couple’s absolute devotion to one another. It’s a compelling narrative, despite Black’s unimaginative just-the-facts-style prose: e.g., “We pull into his driveway….He carries my suitcase into the rusty trailer….I follow him. We stand by his bed.” They were two damaged souls; she from a 23-year loveless marriage, a father who committed suicide, and a mother who ran out on her; he, a twice-divorced Vietnam vet contending with his own demons of low self-esteem (“You deserve better…than a half-assed mechanic who doesn’t have a real job”). Their shared love healed both. Black’s wholehearted adoption of Dwayne’s passion for Harley motorcycles was the finishing touch that bound their relationship. Have a box of tissues ready for the heartbreaking, poignant ending.

In bald prose, a powerful biker love story centered around Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63152-620-6
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: She Writes Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: