Fiction - General
250 Pages
Reviewed on 04/08/2018
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Author Biography

"Friends" is my sixth novel . . . it is different. The first five dealt with loves won, loves lost, adventure, and mystery. "Friends" is not like them; it is about the bond of two humans and what it means to be a friend and traveling on the adventure we call life, with that friend. I've been told this book had passages that made the reader laugh and cry in the same paragraph . . . exactly how life treats us.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Friends is a contemporary travel fiction novel written by Gary Hope. Bill was somewhat surprised to hear Allen’s voice on the other end of the line. Allen never called, even though they had literally grown up together and had known each other for decades. As usual, their conversation quickly devolved into banter, even as Allen proposed taking a trip together. Allen seemed somewhat taken aback by Bill’s easy acceptance of the proposition, despite knowing absolutely no details. The two did eventually agree that they’d be driving in a rental pickup truck and towing a camper as they toured the United States. Both of them were sixty-nine years old now. Allen’s wife had died of cancer eight months prior, and Bill’s wife had left him some years before. So, there was little to keep them from setting off together on what would be an unforgettable road trip.

Gary Hope’s contemporary travel fiction novel, Friends, follows two peripatetic wanderers who shrug off their day-to-day existence and set off to see the country. While the somewhat conservative attitudes of the two North Carolinians were often a bit harsh for what Bill and Allen would probably call my East Coast sensibilities, I particularly enjoyed their serendipitous approach to seeing the country. I loved experiencing the West Coast through their eyes, especially Big Sur, Monterey and the Redwood Empire, and did wonder, at times, at the places they didn’t visit. Their hikes in Sedona and the Grand Canyon are exceptionally well presented. As their trip finally drew to a close, I wondered if they might not want to turn around and start driving off once again, and found I was hoping they would do just that. Friends is highly recommended.

Kimberlee J Benart

Friends by Gary Hope is an engaging account of a journey across America that provides a humorous setting for exploring the meaning of life, love, and friendship. Friends since high school and college, one divorced and one recently widowed, Bill and Allen worked together for almost forty years. Both are retired, financially secure, and living alone in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. One has been divorced for a dozen years, yet still loves his ex-wife. The other is widowed less than a year. Seemingly on a whim, these two men rent a truck and a camper, arm their cooler with some beer, and drive off together on a vacation to nowhere in particular that ends up taking them to an amazing variety of destinations, because that’s what friends do.

Through intermixed snippets of sarcastic banter and profound wisdom, Gary Hope provides the reader with both chuckles and food for thought, as well as some interesting Americana and characters along the way. The narrative is well-paced and brings the characters and scenery to life. When Bill and Allen are asked for advice by young people they meet on the way, and respond “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show,” and “Don’t forget to live before you die,” you know that there’s more to these men than a rock throwing competition. After all, “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” Friends by Gary Hope is an entertaining, emotionally satisfying, and thought-provoking read. Highly recommended.

Lesley Jones

Friends by Gary Hope is a story of two old friends, Allen and Bill, who decide to take a road trip together. Join them on this side-splitting journey as they discover that life is to be lived to the fullest, and their best days are far from behind them. Their exploits along the way will make you laugh out loud, but also the love they share for each other will strike a chord in your heart. This is a story about a deep friendship and living life with passion. As they travel across the United States, they visit many beautiful places and meet the most extraordinary characters along the way. They begin to learn that life hasn't passed them by yet and, at the end of the story, they realise that they are about to embark on a new chapter of their lives.

Friends by Gary Hope has an amazing life lesson throughout. I think anyone who has shared a long-lasting friendship can relate to the camaraderie between these two friends. The author has created two amazing characters that made me laugh throughout. I could just picture them taking this road trip together and that was down to the author's amazing descriptive skills. There were so many funny moments throughout this book, but my favourites were the hippy wet t-shirt conversation, their reaction to the nude man in Redwood National Park, and the pig conversation on their way to Little Big Horn. I would love to read more from this writer as he just has a great way of pulling at your heartstrings one moment and making you laugh the next. The life lesson at the end - “Enjoy the heck out of life, and quit worrying so much” - summed the story up perfectly. The ending was very emotional and one I was not expecting.