THE ROAD TO TERMINUS

The Road to Terminus

The paths of three strangers collide on a desperate road trip along Route 66. One is running away, one is racing the clock, and the child who binds their destiny merely hopes to survive.

Middle-aged widow Mabel Crowley hasn't felt needed in years. But when a homeless child named Stryker shows up at church one Sunday, Mabel's life takes a drastic turn.

George Stanton is not who he seems. Running from the law in his brand new 1955 Lincoln Continental, he's planning a mad dash to Mexico to leave his past behind. He can't let an old woman and a sick kid get in his way.

Eleven-year-old Stryker has never eaten with utensils and doesn't know how to read, but she can identify the make, year, and model of every car on the road. She won't reveal the identity of her mother or why she's been told to never let her tattered stuffed monkey out of her sight.

Mabel races against time to save Stryker's life. George only wants to save his own skin. Soon their destinies become irrevocably entwined, and the road they choose could change their lives forever.

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BOOK REVIEWS

"The Road to Terminus is a road to danger, detours and desperation. On the way you'll meet three people who would never have chosen to take a road trip together - George, a selfish, scheming criminal; Mabel, a well-meaning but slightly judgmental middle-aged woman, feeling duty-bound to God; and Stryker, a terminally ill, abandoned little girl. How their paths converge on Route 66 in Mabel's elderly Studebaker sedan is a fascinating story in itself, but the adventure is just beginning.

George wants to get to Mexico, where he'll be safe from the business partners he cheated on. Mabel wants to get to a UCLA hospital in California to get treatment for Stryker. Stryker is too sick to want much of anything, but as she travels with this mismatched pair of adults, she unexpectedly begins to experience the sense of family she's been longing for.

The outer journey is also a journey of self-discovery, made all the more interesting by the wealth of period detail from 1955. Will George get his wish to make it big in Mexico? Will Mabel find a relationship with God that is more than duty? Will Stryker make it to UCLA in time? This is a road trip you won't forget."

Linda S Opp

"Author Catherine Leggitt paints an evocative story in such a stunning way. She immerses readers in era that seems so long ago--the 1950s--and the little details and flavoring of the time period make the story come alive. Three unlikely people, thrown together in a crucible due to unexpected circumstances, travel together across the US. Mabel's heart yearns to find healing for young Stryker, a street urchin she took under her wing. Treatment and hope hang by a string in California, and she's determined that this little girl makes it there alive. And George--he's running from more than the law, and he's difficult and abrasive and self-centered. All these characters are transformed in the confines of a car (more than one), and show the potential of flawed humanity to rise to a place of grace and sacrifice. Don't miss this beautiful novel."

Susanne Lakin

"I read an advance copy of The Road to Terminus, a Christian novel, in exchange for an honest review. When Mabel Crowley meets Stryker, she doesn't know if the child is a boy or a girl, but her heart is captured by the youngster. While taking Stryker to California, Mabel and Stryker cross paths with George and due to circumstances they end up traveling together. The characters of Mabel and Stryker are endearing and easily liked. George in contrast is a callous jerk. And that makes him the perfect character in this story. The author will draw you in and you'll adore Stryker.Grab your tissues, because the story will touch your heart."

Marcy Dyer

"The Road to Terminus was a departure from the books I've previously ready by Catherine Leggitt, but it was truly a good read! From the opening page to the very end this was an enthralling, fast-paced novel that barely gave you time to catch your breath. It was difficult to put down once I started it, because there was never a lull in the action. The character development, as well, was some of Catherine Leggitt's finest. This is a touching story, and one I highly recommend.

Sharon K Souza

"One homeless sick child, one not-so-healthy woman, and one desperate fugitive. How in the world did they wind up in the same old Studebaker--uh, Packard--headed for LA? Well, for one thing, the child (Stryker) needs help not available in St. Louis--at least not help big-hearted Mabel Crowley can afford. And George Stanton--uh, Vince Morelli?--well, beggars can't be choosers.

I loved this book! Catherine Leggitt wouldn't let me put the thing down! I received a copy of this book free in return for an honest review."

Anne Baxter Campbell

"In 1955, George Stanton—drug user, alcoholic, and embezzler—flees from Chicago when both the underworld and the law close in on him. Meanwhile in St. Louis, the aged widow Mabel Crowley takes in a street urchin, a little girl named Stryker. The reluctant Stryker holds on desperately to a stuffed monkey toy because the mother who abandoned her said never to let the monkey out of her sight. A medical exam shows that Stryker has acute leukemia, and only an experimental treatment at the UCLA Medical Center has any hope of a cure. So Mabel loads Stryker and the monkey into her aging Studebaker and sets out for California. A few miles down Highway 66 they find a wreck. George Stanton, driving his Lincoln while drunk, has sped into sharp curve and crashed. Mabel and Stryker take the ungracious George in, and thus begins a long and troubled odyssey for the ill-matched and cross-motivated trio.

In author Catherine Leggitt's practiced handling, this conflicted situation becomes both a fascinating story and a character study of unusual depth. As the journey progresses, each of the three characters changes the other two and is changed by them. As a bonus for the reader, the author's detailed historical research on the geography of Highway 66 and its environs, together with her extensive knowledge of classic automobiles, add interest at each point along the way. The author weaves all of these threads into a narrative of increasing tension, leading to a climax in which the characters and the reader confront the stark reality of eternal truth. These factors make for an excellent book with a depth rarely found in commercial fiction."

Author Donn Taylor

"Wow. This story is set in the 1950s along Route 66, but that's only the milieu for a gripping tale. The unlikely combination of characters is really what keeps you reading. Stryker is sweet, innocent, and uncannily perceptive. Mabel is sweet but not perfect, which is refreshing. George is one of a kind, and any author who can make us sympathize with a character like George is good. "

The pace kept me reading while I ran through the gamut of emotions. You really just never know what's going to happen. I ended up caring a lot about each of these people. There is something for everyone in this book. Loved it.

Carol

"I read an advanced copy of The Road To Terminus. Catherine Leggitt has created memorable characters in her latest novel. I fell in love with the child and her endless knowledge of automobiles! What an adventure for Mable, George and Stryker, but the journey has surprises in store for each person. Great read."

Author Valerie Massey Goree

"Sometimes you can tell you're going to like a book from page one, and that's what happened to me when I read The Road to Terminus. This Christian novel is unique and different from the usual fare, somethings that makes it very hard to put down. You'll root with the characters, yell at them a few times, and enjoy your trip down 1950s Route 66. A fantastic mix of nostalgia, tenderness, and grit, The Road to Terminus is a novel you won't forget."

C.J. Darlington

"The Road to Terminus is a Route 66 adventure that is part Bonnie & Clyde and part Driving Miss Daisy, with the ticking clock and bittersweetness of Terms of Endearment thrown in. All of the up-and-down emotions, personality clashes, and plot twists make for a surprising, exasperating, and funny story with a redemptive, "God's got this" ending. A page-turner with fresh characters and a nostalgic, 1950's setting."

Jeris Hamm

"This was a fabulous read that held me throughout to the very end! This would also make a terrific movie for the whole family. Characters were developed nicely during the read. Action portions very visible in my mind. I highly recommend this book to be an integral part of any families bookshelf."

Lydia Daly

"I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, the story of a 1955 road trip on Route 66 taken by three unlikely characters. It is so excellently researched, right down to the cars of the era and the roadside attractions. Another wonderful story by Catherine Leggitt! It brought back so many fond memories, and I couldn't put it down."

Sherry Reese

CREATION OF "THE ROAD TO TERMINUS"

Sometimes people ask where I get ideas for my books. The creation of every manuscript has a unique story its own, of course, but my journey to publication of The Road to Terminus was rather unusual. To kick it off, one night in 2012 I dreamed about three strangers—a child, an older woman, and a fugitive—traveling in a car. When I woke, this unlikely mix intrigued me, so I wrote it down and commenced pondering possibilities. During this time, a family member was grappling with several major issues including addiction. He also acted out, refusing to assume responsibility for the fallout of his exploits. His struggle for sanity dragged on endlessly. Just when I thought he had conquered, he would tumble into the pit again. I wondered how many times a person must hit bottom before he or she comes to the final bottom where change is the only option left. One day, my husband Bob and I were discussing this quandary when we drove past a sign for Terminous, California. I felt a mental nudge. Terminus means the end of the road. Suddenly, the story percolating in my brain had a name—The Road to Terminus. Now I knew I would be writing a road trip with three strangers traveling together and that one of them would be battling addiction. Ever since the days of childhood road trips in my mother's green-and-yellow Pontiac station wagon, I have been fascinated with Route 66. Why not write a road trip along The Mother Road? About the time I began plotting chapters, my husband unearthed a 1955 State Farm Road Atlas showing the exact placement of old Route 66 which he purchased at an antique store some years earlier. Besides being a time I fondly recall, setting the story in 1955 would eliminate the problem of dealing with modern law enforcement technology. Cross-country flight without rapid detection might not be so simple today because of the information highway. And I had a fugitive to consider.

Then one weekend we visited my brother-in-law in the Mohave Desert. "Coincidentally" Victorville was hosting a Route 66 classic car show at the same time. As I snapped pictures of awesome pre-1955 autos, I got the notion that Stryker and George might connect around their mutual love of cars. At the same event, I purchased several books about roadside attractions and spoke with experts on Route 66 folklore. Instant research. My daughter sent me a replica Route 66 sign to hang on my wall, and I was on the road, so to speak.

Although I never discovered the answer to my initial question about what it takes to get to the final bottom, pondering this question revealed information I value. First off, happily ever afters only exist in fairy tales and in our future in heaven. Every day is a struggle against temptation.

Concerning deep-set issues, human willpower or determination cannot transform the heart and mind. If it seems I interjected too much “religion” into this story, please consider this conclusion: heart issues can only truly be changed by the power of God. Sometimes God changes people instantly, but sometimes this change occurs over a long period of time. The Bible promises that God will make His chosen ones into the image of Jesus. This transformative work is accomplished as we obey and walk His way.

It occurs to me that Bill W. and Alcoholics Anonymous embrace this very concept. Success in AA involves reliance on a Higher Power. Those who depend on willpower, determination, discipline, or whatever other human powers there may be, sometmes turn from the addiction that initially drove them to AA, but the end result will be substitution of another addictive behavior. The tendency toward addiction is lasting. For true freedom, God must be the primary piece in the equation, one day at a time. Along my writing journey, I always need concrete affirmations to keep me going. In His great mercy, God faithfully provided exactly what I required at the precise time it was needed. Although I don’t know why he desired me to write this story, I have no doubt that writing The Road to Terminus was accomplished within God’s will and completely with God’s power.