Any Road Will Take You There:A Journey of Fathers and Sons
By David W. Berner
Photographs can often track the lives of a family. Sometimes a single snapshot can change the way you visualize something and create a new image or picture of those whose faces have been captured by the lens of the camera. Within some photos you can see or learn about the history of a family, the lives of some who have long passed and the reasons why you might need to search deep within yourself to find the answers. As the author of Any Road Will Take You There by David Berner relates what happens when he finds a snapshot of himself as a young child, his father, his grandfather and great grandfather. Searching for answers about his life, relating his father’s lack of interaction with his grandfather and why, this middle-aged man decides to so what is related by Jack Kerousac in On the Road and get behind the wheel of his car and go on a cross-country trip. Why? It will be revealed as we take the journey along with him. Reading On the Road a book he values and still cherishes the author hopes that by doing this he will rekindle is life, reenergize himself and in the end learn more than what he expected. But, it is more as we learn what happens when his father passes away and we compare it to how his father handled his grandfather’s death. Rereading On The Road set in motion a journey that would take him, his friend Brad and his two sons Casey and Graham on a five thousand mile journey, using On the Road as their guide to where they wanted to start and end up, understanding the true meaning of being a father.
Divorced, his job seemed to be at a dead end, his sons not keen on going at first, riding in an RV not cool, they began their journey into what some might call family enlightenment.
Some emulate their parents, others reflect and hope that they do not make the same mistakes. Can you really assess yourself as a parent? Can you find yourself comparing your life to that of someone else? The parallels are made to Sal Paradise in On the Road and the events might seem similar but the outcome quite different.
Throughout the novel you hear many different voices as more than the author tells more story to readers. As the author relates his journey with his sons he reflects on the past, shares his time with this own father and many incidents that come to mind adding to the realities of what is happening in the present. We learn more about his son Graham and how he struggled with smoking pot, falling grades in school and just dealing with being a teen. His son Casey seems more levelheaded as he guides his father through a Heavy Metal Concert and much more along with his teenage friends. But, the one thing that parents can learn from reading this book is how David handled each situation without doing what most parents do and that is exploding, overreacting and really listening to his sons so in order for them to hear his words. He reflects back to his own time with his father the good and not so good. He even shares what happened with his grandfather and how that changed the dynamics of his father’s life and family. Secrets come out, one father examines his role as a parent and reflects on the changes he has made in his own life.
Getting reconnected with his past helped David to connect with his sons in the present. Using On the Road you might say as his guide and map they traveled cross-country, talked about their experiences as Casey recorded their trip using his camera, Graham enlisted his father in many discussions and David united them with their grandparents through his stories. Flashbacks to the past explained many of his actions and thoughts in the present. Seeing Mohammed Ali would have excited me too. Graham’s reaction and wanting to become involved in mixed martial arts did not make the author happy but understanding where he was coming from, surprised his own father encouraged him to learn to box allowed Graham to pursue his dreams. Each voice is heard and the trip was no longer just the author’s but his sons and best friend’s too. Comparing his life to that of his father and grandfather would help him understand his own role as a dad in the present.
Freedom comes at a high price at times and they to in search of finding themselves and much more. As the story draws to a close and so does their trip the author reflects on his life, his father and his mother as he visits her, hears her words regarding his father, begins to understand much more about himself and hopefully will finally find some peace. Did a trip like this help him understand his role as a father? Did he finally realize what he himself wanted and still wants in life? What impact did reading this book, following it as somewhat of a road map and encouraging his sons to want to read it too, have on him in the long run? Things move ahead and his relationship with his sons change and one goes off to school while the other remains at home. Just what does he learn and what about Casey and Graham? Read Any Road Will Take You There and find out what not only the title means but that some roads, any paths just might take you in the right direction if you look hard enough at what is in plain sight along the way. This is a definite must read for all parents of teens and study groups. Just think this book might become the new road map or On the Road for others to follow when taking their first road trip with their sons/daughters.
Fran Lewis: reviewer