The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast

April 30th, 2013 in Rainy Day Review

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This past summer while on a road trip I read The Bar Mitzvah and the Beast by Matt Biers-Ariel. Many times I found myself chuckling out loud and having to stop and read the funny passages out loud to Royce. I saw many truths in his story about his teenager and younger son. I could envision similar types of conversations occurring all across the world between kids and their parents. I chose to review this book this month because at Don Hanson’s celebration of life, Erik one of his sons told a similar story of a know-it-all teenager and his road trip across the country with his dad. I believe that Don would have enjoyed this book as well and might have seen some parallels. The Mountaineers Books had this to say:

  • A light-hearted and hilarious memoir of an ordinary family’s extraoardinary cross-country bike adventure
  • Kids fighting, equipment breaking, characters popping up around each turn

Amateur bike rider, father of three, and everyday public school teacher, Matt Biers-Ariel never dreamed of riding a bike across the United States. But then his hard-to-impress teenage son, Yonah, refused to have a bar mitzvah as he approached age thirteen. No dancing with grandma or chanting traditional prayers? Something had to be done to celebrate this rite of passage.

So Matt, his wife, Djina, Yonah, and little brother Solomon decided to saddle up for a physical ride of passage…one that would take them 3,804 miles by bicycle from the waters of the Pacific Ocean, over the Rockies, through midwest small towns, and all the way to Washington D.C. Armed with ibuprofen, several gallons of Gatorade, and one unpredictable tandem bike (the “Beast”), the Biers-Ariel family cycled across the middle of America, chatting with colorful characters along the way, roasting marshmallows at campgrounds, and quarrelling over the state of climate change, religious identity, and several flat tires. They also collected thousands of signatures on a self-made global-warming petition calling for the United States to undergo its own rite of passage…one of energy conservation.