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Family Matters in These Recommended Travel Reads

The Many Benefits of a Personal Trainer

We expect the bonds between mothers and sons to run strong and deep. Alas, strong and deep can also mean complicated. The mothers and sons in these recommended travel reads are all struggling with how much to hold on and how much to let go. Visit Amazon or fire up your Kindle for some mother and son drama sure to draw you in and make the hours on the plane or train fly by.

Turtle Moon
Alice Hoffman

“At 27 Longboat Street, just off West Main, in a pink stucco condominium facing the flat blue bay, there lived a twelve-year-old-boy, a mean little Scorpio named Keith Rosen, who would have liked nothing better than to knock someone’s block off.”

In May the town of Verity is “the most humid spot in eastern Florida,” and the residents, and even the local sea turtles, go a bit haywire. Lucy Rosen and her son Keith have moved to Verity from a wealthy New York suburb after Lucy’s divorce. Bitterly unhappy about the move, Keith spends his days smoking, ditching school and committing petty thefts. When a woman in their condo complex is murdered, and her baby girl and Keith both go missing, Lucy begins a desperate search to find them.

Hoffman paints a world that is grounded in strong, relatable emotions, but that also feels more lyrical and mythical than everyday experience. As this mother and son come to terms with their relationship, the events that surround them are poignant and occasionally even tragic, but never seem to completely overpower hope and the potential for redemption.


Ordinary People
Judith Guest

“I am never going to be forgiven for that, never! You can’t get it out, you know! All that blood on her rug and her goddamn towels – everything had to be pitched! Even the goddamn tile in the bathroom had to be regrouted. Christ, she fired a goddamn maid because she couldn’t dust the living room right, and if you think she’s ever going to forgive me….”

In 1981, Ordinary People won the Oscar for best motion picture. Thirty-five years later, the book behind the movie is still moving and relevant. The narrative opens a month after 17-year-old Conrad Jarrett has returned home from treatment after a suicide attempt. Conrad’s suicide attempt is just the most obvious symptom of a family in crisis. The year before, his carefree older brother was killed in a freak sailing accident that Conrad survived. The loss has profoundly strained the bonds of this (formerly ordinary) family and the ways they see themselves and each other. In particular, both Conrad and his father Cal are struggling to find new understanding in their relationships with Conrad’s mother Beth.

Conrad’s narrative, and his interactions with his funny and down-to-earth “shrink” Berger, are the heart of this extraordinary novel about growth, acceptance, forgiveness and hope.

The Last Coyote
Michael Connelly

‘Look Harry, you know what your mother was.’ He nodded and she continued. ‘She was a party girl. We both were. I’m sure you know that’s the polite way of saying it. And the cops really didn’t care that one of us ended up dead. They just wrote the whole damn thing off. I know you’re a policeman now, but that’s the way it was then. They just didn’t care about her.’

L.A. Detective Harry Bosch is suspended for attacking his commanding officer, his house has been condemned after an earthquake, and his girlfriend has walked out on him (and kept on going until she arrived in Italy). Close to rock bottom, he wakes up one morning knowing that he must use his time off to look into his mother’s unsolved murder 30 years earlier. Before the murder, she had lost custody of Harry, but he remembers her as a loving mother who had promised to get him back.

After so many years, it may not be possible to find the truth; memories have faded and his mother’s murderer may even be dead. Even if he succeeds, the question remains whether Harry’s investigation will bring him any closer to a sense of peace and closure. Like the “thin and ragged” coyote he has spotted (or possibly hallucinated) a couple of times near his Mulholland Drive neighborhood, Harry is showing the wear and tear of battling against a world to which he does not want to – or can’t – seem to adapt.

Fortunately, if you have trouble putting down your travel read once you arrive at The Benjamin, in-room dining is available from 6am to midnight. You’ll have the choice of many of The National’s celebrated menu items, including the “Ugly” Burger, to keep your strength up while you binge read. It’s loaded with pickled jalapenos, Chef Zarkarian’s special sauce, and your choice of gruyere, white cheddar, blue cheese or bacon.