Driving the long and winding desert Route 117 has been what Ben has just done. When the other big companies pull out of that area, Ben is the only big trucker that will still deliver goods to the residents of Route 117.
Ben has come to a point where he knows all of his clients by name, and brings them personalized or requested items from town or far away. This is a good route in his life. From Ben’s perspective it is a beautiful existence, though due to the shutting down of the town’s major source of income, the money has started to dry up. Ben’s truck if even in jeopardy of being repossessed. Through all his troubles, he continues to deliver to people on Route 117, as he has found a bond with them and their quirky traits.
Along his delivery route is the Never Open Desert Diner. There are many rumors about what happened to the diner, and the diner’s owner, Walt, does nothing to disway the gossip of the surrounding town folk. The sign is always “closed,” and Walt himself is a mean spirited and reclusive man.
During one particular visit to drop off goods to Walt, Ben finds that he must visit the restroom pronto. With nobody around the diner, he notices something that he had never seen before: a neighborhood with only one house. Though it had been mapped and graded out for roads and other houses, there stood just the shell of one model home. While Ben is relieving himself on the side of the house, he notices a most beautiful girl through the window, playing an imaginary cello.
Claire fascinates Ben, and soon she is all he can think about. Clarie also carries secrets. She becomes the central mystery in the book. Who is she? Why is she living in abandoned house? More importantly, why is Ben suddenly being followed, or bribed? What happened so long ago at the diner that has caused a huge rift in time, and in love?
To not throw those spoilers out there, I will say that Ben’s journey down Route 117 is one of the reopening of old wounds, and the healing of some of the same. Ben, in simplicity has become just what was needed to tie up those loose ends at the diner, and allows much needed healing to occur for the diner, the town, and Claire and Walt. He was the sunset that painted the desert the brightest.
For me, this was such a powerful story of how past and present intermingle, and how choices we make never really leave us. I was undeniably drawn to the characters, and felt I too was vested in the diner.
In my humble opinion, this is a book that you should read if you are missing hope, carrying grief, or just love a good book that brings everything together like a brilliant symphony.