This contemporary Christian book is the first book in the "Real Life" series by Nancy Rue and is published by Zondervan.
Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book is written for readers ages 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Have you ever wondered what it is like inside the head of someone who has ADHD? Fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher doesn't have to wonder — she lives it. All of her life she has lived with her bipolar mother, Brooke, and has learned to take care of herself during Brooke's "in-bed phases" and to walk on eggshells during her "no-bed phases." Between Jessie's ADHD and Brooke's bipolar issues, their lives are chaotic, but they manage. Brooke has told Jessie that her father died before she was born, and Jessie never questioned that until a man named Lou Kennesaw from St. Augustine, Fla., calls to say he is her father. Jessie's mom admits that Lou is Jessie's bio-dad. The stress of this coming encounter between Jessie and her father sends Brooke into a bad "in-bed phase," in which she tries to commit suicide and is sent to the hospital.
Lou used to be an alcoholic, the main reason Jessie's mom left and never told Jessie about him. But Lou joined Alcoholic's Anonymous, went through their 12-steps and discovered Jesus Christ as his higher power, and Lord and Savior. That changed Lou's life.
Jessie's dad, already in town to meet Jessie, decides to bring Jessie home with him to Florida, and Brooke agrees. Jessie doesn't. She tries to dissuade Lou, even going to the length of tossing out all of her ADHD meds. Lou, however, is not one to be dissuaded. In fact, he has read up on ADHD and how to make the living environment structured for Jessie in a way that helps control the "hamster wheel" in her head.
In the airport on her way to Florida, Jessie finds a book titled RL (Real Life, a translation of the Bible using everyday words). She decides to keep it. The stories in it, especially those about Yeshua, seem to be talking directly to her and her life's circumstances.
Once in Florida, dealing with a new parent and a new environment isn't all Jessie has to contend with. She soon learns that she has a 10-year-old half-sister as well, Louisa, or Weesie as most people call her. Weesie, a miniature copy of Jessie, down to her freckles and red hair, but without the ADHD, lives with Lou on weekends and hates Jessie honing in on her dad.
Lou owns a motorcycle shop as well as a sushi restaurant, and Jessie finds her first connection to her father through them. Even though Jessie starts out their life together by crashing one of her father's rental scooters, she starts to understand that Lou really is committed to her and to developing their father-daughter relationship. Lou convinces a restaurant manger to hire Jessie, and this job gives Jessie a reason to learn to control her ADHD. She wants to succeed.
Lou is also a youth leader for his church. At youth group, Jessie meets Rocky, a 17-year-old who works for Jessie's dad at the motorcycle shop. Rocky ends up spending a fair amount of time with Jessie — time Jessie figures her dad makes him spend with her. But Rocky really does like her — just the way she is, ADHD and all. This even leads to one small kiss — after Jessie realizes Rocky does like her. Over the summer, between reading RL and watching Lou's example, Jessie finds Jesus (Yeshua) and accepts Him as her Lord and Savior. She also realizes having a solid, stable home with Lou is better than the crazy life she had with her mom.
Jessie chooses to stay with Lou, even when her mom shows up and wants to take her back to Alabama. Jessie seals this new life by taking RL back to the airport terminal for someone else to find, read and hopefully have a life-changing experience with Yeshua.
Lou is committed to loving and developing a relationship with Jessie, ADHD and all. He respects who she is and where they are as a father and daughter, and he loves her. Lou attends church and brings Jessie and Weesie with him. Lou says grace before meals. Jessie finds a book, RL (Real Life a translation of the Bible using everyday words) and finds that the stories of Yeshua and His life speak to her and her everyday relationships. Lou's life was changed by his relationship with Jesus Christ. Jessie asks Yeshua (Jesus) to come be a part of her life.
Even though Brooke struggles with being bipolar, and Jessie struggles with living with her mom's issues as well as her ADHD, Jessie obeys her mom. As Jessie gets to know Lou as her father, she respects him — his rules and wishes. Jessie obeys her father. Rocky respects Lou as his youth group leader, as well as the father figure in his life. Rocky also respects Lou as Jessie's dad and obeys Lou's requests and rules when around Jessie.
Other Belief Systems
Jessie crashes a scooter into a wall and gets scraped up. She falls off a beach walkway and bloodies her face and arms.
Jessie and Rocky share one kiss.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Do you know people with ADHD?
After learning more about ADHD through Jessie, how might you pray for them?
- Have you ever had to move away from friends?
What was it like?
What things does Jessie experience in moving to a new town that you have experienced?
- What have you done to befriend someone when she/he was new?
Tell about a time when someone befriended you.
Do you find it easier to become friends with someone at school or at youth group? Explain.
- Why does Lou show up suddenly in Jessie's life?
How would you feel if something like this happened to you?
Once they go to Florida, what kind of father is Lou to Jessie?
- What are some of the reasons Jessie starts to like Lou?
Why does she end up wanting to stay with him?
Why is her ADHD easier to control when she's with her father?
- What are some of the challenges Jessie has in living with her new sister?
What are some of the challenges you have in living with your siblings?
What do you do to get along with your siblings?
What does Jessie do to get along with Weesie?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.