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Riding the Edge, My Love Song to Deborah
Deborah is an Arab American. Michael is an American Jew. Six years ago, they fell in love, and in the spring of 1980, their life together checks all the right boxes: love, money, and successful careers as psychologists — a straight road to a perfect future. Yet, beneath this ideal picture, something indefinable is missing from their flawlessly ordered life. In a bid to rescue their relationship, they risk it all and leave their practices for an around-the-world bicycle odyssey, seeking to explore and confront their yearning for truth, adventure, and one another. But a journey has a mind of its own and this one will disturb their universe. Bound by love but separated by ethnicity, they cycle through Europe, heading for war-torn Lebanon where they hope to find Deborah’s last remaining Lebanese relatives. As they ride from one serendipitous encounter to another, they are forced to confront the meaning of love, identity, and commitment. Their relationship and their once predictably secure future together are shaken to the core...
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10

Assessment:

Idea: Tobin’s memoir is about an adventure of grand proportions, as well as of two individuals working to determine whether their relationship will persevere.

Prose/Style: Tobin is a very engaging writer with clear prose. Especially delightful are his passages on landscape, landmarks, and various regional cuisines. The chapters on Paris and Corfu are fascinating and memorable.

Originality: Although this memoir initially reads like a straight travel narrative, it is much more. The book’s emotional substance stems from Michael and Deborah’s work to resolve issues within their close relationship and to ultimately determine the course of their future.

Character/Execution: Both Michael and Deborah are quite thoroughly depicted as loving, intrepid, and curious, while several engaging, eccentric people they meet on their travels provide additional texture.

Date Submitted: October 12, 2020

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