Leah is living in Queens with a possessive husband she doesn’t love and a long list of unfulfilled ambitions, when she’s jolted from a thick ennui by a call from the past. Her beloved former boss and friend, Judy, has died in a car accident and left Leah her most prized possession and, as it turns out, the instrument of Judy’s death: a red sports car.
Judy was the mentor Leah never expected. She encouraged Leah’s dreams, analyzed her love life, and eased her into adulthood over long lunches away from the office. Facing the jarring disconnect between the life she expected and the one she is now actually living, Leah takes off for San Francisco to claim Judy’s car. In sprawling days defined by sex, sorrow, and unexpected delight, Leah revisits past lives and loves in search of a self she abandoned long ago. Piercing through Leah’s surreal haze is the enigmatic voice of Judy, as sharp as ever, providing wry commentary on Leah’s every move.
My Thoughts: The story of Leah’s life, with the good and bad choices, kept me engrossed as it jumped from college days, to six years later, and then ahead ten years.
Trailing along the path with her, we see how some of her most significant times involved working as an assistant to Judy in a San Francisco company. Judy was a mentor, guiding her, a voice in her head. And Judy had purchased a red sports car, a prized possession.
So now that Leah is in a marriage with a possessive man named Hans, there is hope for change when she gets a call about Judy’s death…and that Judy has left her the red car. But Leah will have to go to San Francisco to claim her legacy.
I hated how Hans reacted when she insisted on going alone. And after she goes, he bombards her with so many e-mails that it would be impossible for Leah not to see his reaction as a serious red flag.
Reconnecting with old friends, taking a trip to Big Sur, and attending the bat mitzvah of Judy’s niece in Philadelphia, as requested by Judy…all of these events help Leah to rediscover who she was. Meanwhile, why does Leah keep hearing Judy’s voice in her head, like a ghostly presence? And why does the red car seem to have a mind of its own?
Would Judy’s ongoing guidance, as well as the antics of the car, help Leah make the right choice going forward? The right choice would seem obvious, but we won’t know for sure what she decides until the very end. The Red Car earned 4.5 stars from me.