I loved this book! Surprise, no? I didn't expect to find any literature that I really loved in my American realism class, but here it is. Finally, a realist author that doesn't feel the need to write only about depressing things! Granted, this is Steinbeck's lighter novel. Compared to Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men it's positively a comedy. And it really was funny. I didn't laugh out loud much, but it made me smile many times. This is Steinbeck's own travelogue as he crosses America with his poodle Charley, searching for the American people he's been writing about for years. His discoveries are funny and moving. His writing is gorgeous. I especially appreciated what he wrote as he went through Lousiana, since this novel is contemporary with The Help's time period. He saw first hand some of those race issues and his account is shocking. Steinbeck really has a way of viewing the world and writing about it honestly. I thought the whole novel was candid and entertaining. Definitely a keeper and certainly one of the novels I read this semester that won't spend the rest of its life gathering dust on a book shelf. I intend to read it again and share with my kids someday.