Book Review

You Are My Sunshine

You Are My Sunshine: A Story of Love, Promises, and a Really Long Bike Ride

  • Author: Sean Dietrich
  • Genre: Biography/Memoir
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2022
  • Publisher: Zondervan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: mention of cancer

A laugh-out-loud funny true story of a loving relationship, a grand adventure, and a promise kept. 

It was only a few years after the starry-eyed young couple got married when scary news threatened to take the wind out of their sails. But Sean Dietrich’s wife, Jamie, wouldn’t let it. She dared to hope for and plan for a great big adventure, and she made him promise to do it with her. For love and the promise of biscuits along the way, Sean–who was never an athlete of any kind–undertook the bike ride of a lifetime and lived to talk about it. 

In this true-life tale, master storyteller Sean Dietrich–also known as the beloved columnist and creator of the blog and podcast “Sean of the South”–shares their hilarious, touching, and sometimes terrifying story of the long bike ride to conquer The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath trail. As you laugh out loud through every hard-won mile and lose yourself in his signature poignancy, you’ll experience a great adventure that, in the end, will remind you of what’s most important in life, the value of keeping your promises, and the importance of connection in your most treasured relationships. 

A feel-good read you won’t be able to put down, You Are My Sunshine dares you to hope for an adventure of your own.

This book was one of those chosen by my social media friends as part of my 12 in 12, and I checked out the audiobook from my local library, not having any idea what I was in for. Like many of these books, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book!

To start with, the audiobook is narrated by the author himself, and just going by the sound of his voice, he sounded like an older Southern guy. It wasn’t until I had finished listening to the whole book and looked it up on Goodreads that I realized the author is not actually an older guy, and is in fact someone that I have been following on Instagram for several years! What a small world. You can find him on Instagram here.

Dietrich’s wife had a health scare early in their marriage, which led to the two of them embarking on this grand adventure. While Dietrich was not any type of athlete, he hopped on his trike, and followed his wife on a bike ride through The Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath trail, neither of which was an easy undertaking. But he had a stash of Little Debbie cakes and his wife by his side, and was convinced it could be done.

It’s not a long book, and Dietrich writes with an incredible sense of humor. I loved how every situation was written with his personality shining through. The good times were fun, and the tough times still had plenty of humor, making it clear how he gets through obstacles in his life. And there’s plenty of tough times. He doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of his own life—his history with his father, his upbringing, and his complex relationship with religion, but he still approaches them with a surprising sense of open-mindedness and that trademark sense of humor. I especially loved his determination to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma that so many people feel locked into.

And while this story is inspiring and uplifting, it’s also the story of conquering fears (both tangible and intangible fears), and changing our outlook on life. The relationship between Dietrich and his wife, Jamie, is the kind that so many strive for. They’re so obviously in love, and get each other on such a deep level, and it literally jumps off the pages of this story. And what’s even better is the fact that I have seen this through social media for years, without even realizing who he was. I’m looking forward to seeing this relationship grow for more years in the future, and reading more of Dietrich’s books.

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