Book Reviews

Finding My Way Home: A Memoir About Life, Love, and Family by C.K. O’Neil



The first paragraph of Finding My Way Home drew me in: “I ran away once. June. 2002. Though I lived on my own, had no significant other, no children, and no responsibilities to anyone other than myself, I still  needed to run far, far away. What I was running from, I wasn’t quite sure. Perhaps it was reality, perhaps it was memory. Perhaps it was a bit of both,” (1).

In the summer of 2002, not quite thirty-year-old C.K. O’Neil takes a month long cross country road trip…alone. My mother and I have taken several lengthy road trips, one of which was cross country. Driving cross country is an exhilarating (and sometimes terrifying) experience. I can relate to several of O’Neil’s  experiences; for example, in the middle of her journey, she stays at a cheap and shady motel in Burley, Idaho, because it is the only motel within miles offering a vacancy. Something similar happened to my mom and I in a small town in northern Ohio, and O’Neil’s description was spot on with how I felt. But I at least had my mom with me, whereas O’Neil had no one. “Because I could have broken down the door with a single, soft punch, I convinced myself that someone was going to break in. I would be killed,” (43).

Another situation I can relate to is when O’Neil stops for dinner at an Applebee’s. “The music scratched to a halt when the hostess asked, “Just one?” (4). A few summers ago, I went on a trip with an ex-boyfriend to Toronto. For him, it was a work trip, but for me, it was vacation. Each day I was on my own until evening. I’m a loner at heart but I admit, at times I felt awkward, especially when I ate lunch alone at a restaurant and took city tours by myself. “Just one?” the servers and tour bus drivers would ask, raising their eyebrows and smirking. “Yes,” I’d say, with an overly cheerful smile,” just one.”

O’Neil’s journey runs the gamut of emotions; at times her story is humorous, other times it’s heartbreaking, but it always feels genuine.


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