After becoming a widow in her thirties, professor Alison Durst leaves her job and moves in with her sister and brother-in-law. It’s been two years since her husband died, yet Alison still hasn’t been able to move on. She tells her sister that she will return to her house and job after she repairs a 1976 Corvette her brother-in-law has stored which is rusted, doesn’t run, and will cost more to repair than the car is worth. Alison, who doesn’t know the first thing about cars, somehow feels that if she can repair the car, she can repair her life as well. Alison’s sister runs a dance school, and along the way, one of the dance members sends his son Max to meet Alison and help her with the repairs. They form a relationship that helps her restore her life.
Brad Barkley was one of Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers for his novel Money, Love and Alison's Automotive Repair Manual was a Book Sense 76 Choice (recommended by independent booksellers). In addition, he was named one of the Breakthrough Writers You Need to Know by Book Magazine. He has also won a creative writing fellowship from the NEA. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and two children, teaching creative writing at Frostburg State University. This fun book structured like a repair manual is about loss, love and moving on. It is well-written with interesting, humorous characters. Alison's Automotive Repair Manual will surely gain new fans for this author.
Reviewed by mmb, 6/03. Other reviews by mmb.