When Tilly receives an invitation to help drive eight elders on their ultimate bucket-list road trip, she impulsively says yes. Before she knows it, Tilly has said good-bye to her family and is on an adventure that will transform her in ways she could not predict, just as it will for the elders who soon dub themselves “the Crazy Eights.”
The Crazy Eights each choose a stop—somewhere or something they’ve always wanted to experience—on the way to their ultimate goal, the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque. Their plan is to travel to Las Vegas, Sedona, and the Redwood Forests, with each destination the inspiration for secrets and stories to be revealed. The trip proves to be powerful medicine as they laugh, heal, argue, and dream along the way. By the time their bus rolls to a stop in New Mexico, Tilly and the Crazy Eights, with friendships forged and hearts mended, feel ready for anything. But are they?
Road trips, by design, tend to ratchet up all sorts of feelings. The charming characters in Tilly and the Crazy Eights squabble and make up, they laugh and forgive. ... But the book also carries an undercurrent of pain and loss, in particular, the story of Sarah and her sister, Annie, both of whom still hold secrets from their time at residential school.
Though this book, like most of Smith’s work, celebrates Indigenous lives and resilience, non-Indigenous folks will learn from the sharing of these stories. I am grateful for the rollicking journey and encourage everyone to board this bus.
Most powerfully, Smith infuses her novel with joy, love, and laughter and suggests that these could be what determine the future after all.