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Touch and Go

by Thad Nodine

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4211514,137 (4.23)1
"To escape an addiction, a young blind man in California steps into a station wagon with his friends and their foster kids to deliver a handmade casket to a dying grandfather in Florida. As they battle their way across the southern half of the nation, this rag-tag American family falls prey to love and lies, greed and violence, crime and Katrina"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)
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Humor, compassion, characters that come alive and stay with you. Writing that conjures up a sense of place - creating powerful images. Genuine insights into the human condition. And a story that rolls across the country taking the reader on a wonderful ride. Helluva' fine book. ( )
  leeglickenhaus | Jul 11, 2021 |
If I taught a writing class, I would use the first chapter of "Touch And Go" as an example of a brilliant set-up, precisely what every story needs. On the weight of that first chapter, I had high hopes for the novel and yet, I didn't expect it to take me to the places it did or deliver above and beyond the promise of those first few words. A really beautiful book.

( )
  laurustina | Jan 14, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The road novel is far from a new idea, and as such is easily done badly. Not so here. Thad Nodine combines physical impairments, foster childhood, the road, Mother Nature and a host of other challenges and pits them against some very human-sized protagonists. In lesser hands, this book would have been a real mess, but heck if Nodine didn't manage just fine. I'll look for more from this promising writer. ( )
  Dogberryjr | Apr 9, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The quirky dysfunctional family / road trip set up had me nervous at first, but this book really pulled me in. Telling the entire story from the perspective of a blind character was a risk, but Nodine pulls it off and the result is rewarding. Rarely do we have a book where we really don't know what any of the characters or locations look like, but we know how their footsteps sound and the smell of their perfume, or exactly the way their skin feels. The climactic scene in the hurricane is made even more harrowing because we can't see it, and characterizations and actions open up to the reader in unexpected ways when our primary sense is taken out of the narrative.

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2012/01/touch-and-go-by-thad-nodine-2011.html ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Jan 28, 2012 |
Kevin has been blind since a tragic childhood accident. He is still struggling with staying clean and sober after a drug addiction which left him homeless and hopeless. Now living with Isa (a woman he met in a drug treatment center) and her sometimes brutal and abusive husband, Patrick, Kevin clings to the love he has found with Isa and Patrick’s two foster children – Devon a black teenager on the verge of violence, and Ray, a twelve year old who still mourns the loss of his mother. When Patrick and Isa come up with the idea to load a garish coffin onto the top of their car and drive from California to Florida with their children in order to visit Isa’s dying father, Kevin decides to go along with them. The trip, ill conceived and tense, becomes a nightmare of lies, greed, betrayal, and finally Hurricane Katrina.

Touch and Go, Thad Nodine’s debut novel, is narrated in the perceptive voice of Kevin – a man who has lost his vision and his way and is struggling to find love and acceptance. Kevin is a character who finds himself involved in a love triangle with two very damaged people. Isa is bipolar, unpredictable, and battling her own demons while Patrick views the world through a narcissist’s eyes and uses his intellect and manipulations to get what he wants regardless of who it will injure.

The two children in the novel are compelling. Both Ray and Devon have lost their childhood innocence to adults who have failed in their basic responsibility to care for them. As part of Patrick and Isa’s family, they have come to count on two things: Patrick’s anger, and Kevin’s compassion. As the novel unspools and this patched together family finds themselves on the Gulf Coast in the path of Hurricane Katrina, the reader begins to fear the worst.

Touch and Go explores the definition of family by going deeply inside the relationships of the characters.

I don’t know how any of us find our place in this world except in relation to others. – from Touch and Go -

The novel also looks at prejudice, multiculturalism in the United States, domestic violence, drug addiction, redemption, survival, and the idea of self-determination. Nodine’s characters are multifaceted and carefully developed – none are all good or all bad, yet all have complicated and tragic pasts, as well as secrets, which influence their decisions and actions.

I raced through this book in just about two days. Nodine provides excellent pacing for a novel which is clearly in the literary genre. If there is a fault, it is that he tends to wrap things up a little too neatly in the end. Despite that minor complaint, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Kevin’s unique perception of the world. Some of the novel’s best moments were the glimpses into Kevin’s relationship with the two children – a heartwarming exploration of nontraditional parenting.

Readers who enjoy literary fiction will want to add Thad Nodine’s work to their must read list. ( )
  writestuff | Oct 18, 2011 |
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"To escape an addiction, a young blind man in California steps into a station wagon with his friends and their foster kids to deliver a handmade casket to a dying grandfather in Florida. As they battle their way across the southern half of the nation, this rag-tag American family falls prey to love and lies, greed and violence, crime and Katrina"--P. [4] of cover.

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