The Fourth Demand
by Andy Solomon

"Find your own lane on the open road."

How does any father know if he has done all he could in raising a son? Andy Solomon, English and writing professor at the University of Tampa, became the single parent of his two-year-old son, Marty, long before "Dad-moms" were common. He did many things right, but made one mistake more serious than others. He rode everywhere with Marty on his motorcycle, from the time the boy wore diapers until the day Solomon crashed his bike. Father and nine-year-old son survived. A wiser Solomon promised Marty's mother that he would never let their son on a motorcycle again. A month later though, Solomon also promised his son that one day they would ride together across America.

Solomon's nonfiction book centers on him keeping this promise when Marty was 22. But it is also a travelogue of two men cruising 9112 miles on 1997 "blue roads," staying in Motel 6s, eating in small diners and sharing the unlikely mutual love of sports and literature. It's about the American people they met and the stunning vistas these folk called home. And it's about the demands for freedom that youth make on their parents, first to become their own selves and eventually to leave the nest. This book does address the empty nest syndrome, but as viewed from the leather seat of a motorcycle.

First printed in 1997, The Fourth Demand demonstrated Solomon's talent as a first-rate author willing to bear his soul as a struggling parent. Quotes included are timeless, unlike children who never stay young. As evidenced in a 2012 epilogue, the end of the ride is not the end of life. This catches up readers with the lives of key people mentioned in the book. And now, Solomon can make promises to his grandkids.

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