Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America by Kari Loya Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Kari Loya shares an emotional and heartfelt journey of perseverance through adversity as he shares the physical journey he and his father made in 2015 as they rode their bikes in the early years of his father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and the conversations they had with others along the way in the book “Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America”. 

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The Synopsis

Conversations Across America is about a father-son journey of a lifetime: a 73-day, 4,600-mile cross-country bike trip Kari took in 2015 with his 75-year-old dad, Merv, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. Their adventure reminds us of the power of perseverance and adaptability in the face of uncertainty. It’s also a heartwarming example of listening and discovery, including 300 short conversations with people who approached them along the way, providing a rich snapshot of America, especially rural America.

Conversations is a mix of Blue HighwaysTuesdays with Morrie, and Humans of New York… on a bike. As you read, you can’t help but reflect on your relationship with your own father and children, while gaining perspective on Alzheimer’s—which now afflicts more than six million Americans—and getting a sense of the TransAmerica Bike Trail and America itself. Above all, you will be inspired to seize-the-day with someone you love—whatever that means to you.

The Review

This was such a powerful and moving story. The author’s ability to find the perfect balance between emotional and personal storytelling with inspired and honest conversations with hundreds of people across the country made this such a unique and memorable book. The way the author was able to take these stories and conversations from so many people and find a way of using these to explore the fabric of American society and culture through so many different lenses was inspiring to say the least and showcased the diversity and heart of the nation as a whole.

Yet the true heart of this book is in the story of Kari and his father. The impact that Alzheimer’s has on both those who are afflicted with the illness and those who love or care for someone who has it is something many people throughout the world, let alone in the United States, can relate to. The emotional story of this father and son duo as they come to terms with the realities of this diagnosis, as well as the passion they share to make this journey together, makes for a relatable and heartfelt experience that many others could see themselves in. The snapshots and diary entry style writing make this feel like an intimate look into the author’s life that elevates this emotional story more, and the father and son journey helps elevate the stories of those they come across as the book progresses. 

The Verdict

Thoughtful, engaging, and hauntingly beautiful, author Kari Loya’s “Conversations Across America: A Father and Son, Alzheimer’s, and 300 Conversations Along the TransAmerica Bike Trail That Capture the Soul of America” is a must-read nonfiction story of endurance, family, and the strength that comes from our connections to one another. The social and cultural ties that are explored through these stories blend well with the author’s personal journey to come to terms with his father’s illness and make this a heartfelt reading experience that will be impossible to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kari Loya is an educational leader, storyteller, and adventurer. He has worked nearly three decades at a range of innovative educational institutions, beginning with Teach For America in 1993 and serving most recently as headmaster at the Good Hope Country Day School in the U.S. Virgin Islands, when he received a Klingenstein Fellowship from Columbia University. He is also an Emmy-winning bilingual voice talent, musical artist, and author. He spoke at TEDx UC Davis in April 2022 on the theme of “Metamorphosis.” He holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Columbia University. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Sugar Land, Texas.

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