top of page
Image by Filip Zrnzević


Finding Joy On The Loneliest Road in America
Book Club Questions

  1. The timeline in moves back and forth between past and present, spanning seconds, minutes, hours, days, and at times even whole years. What is the effect of this structure? What does Amy’s own backstory add to her relationship and the scenes with Joy in her truck?

  2. Amy is forthcoming about the duality of her relationship with Dave, sharing both the “lovely” moments and the moments of terror, writing, “Dave is lovely, mostly, but when he isn’t lovely, I feel terrified….(9)” and, “Later, I would describe him as both the kindest and the cruelest man I’d ever known (71).” What is the effect of sharing this duality? How does it complicate our notion of abuse, abusers, and intimate partner violence?

  3. In researching the James W. Dalton Highway, Amy writes, “[The road] is the longest stretch of serviceless road in North America and a geographical landmark that has been documented at length, thank God, in books and on the internet, in television and in film. According to my sources—Wikipedia, primarily, but also Alaska’s Bureau of Land Management,, the New York Times, and the very sexy—it has been called “the most dangerous road in America” and “the most isolated road in America” and—what I am most interested in—“the loneliest road in America (11).” Why do you believe Amy was so fascinated by this highway and, in particular, its perceived sense of loneliness?

  4. Amy writes before embarking on her trip that despite all of her fears for what she might encounter on the James W. Dalton Highway—“I worry about my capacity for the unknown, for discomfort, for cold, for pain…I worry about polar bears and grizzlies, which are so plentiful in some parts of this state that ecologists estimate there is one bear for every square mile…Then, of course, there are moose, whose thick chests and barreled stomachs are precisely windshield height and who outnumber bears nearly three to one in Alaska, wounding five to ten people annually in this part of the state alone (33)”—chief among them is her fear that Joy will rebuke her. Why does Joy’s acceptance of Amy seem to matter so much?

  5. “It’s taken me a long time to differentiate between the fear of something new—a necessary discomfort—and the fear of my body in danger. But there’s a key distinction (127).” Consider a moment when you’ve experienced these two distinct fears. How did you navigate them? How does Amy’s relationship with fear change throughout the book?

  6. Does Amy’s depictions of the Alaskan arctic and her experience on the Dalton Highway make you want to make the trip for yourself? Why or why not?

  7. How do you think Amy’s complicated spiritual beliefs played a role in her processing of Joy’s death and her healing from her relationships (with Dave and other men)? How have your own spiritual beliefs helped you navigate unprecedented events or moments of grave difficulty?

  8. Amy challenges the narrative that so often only men are memorialized as brave solo wilderness adventurers (in Alaska and elsewhere). She also makes more than one nod to mainstream cultural trailblazer Cheryl Strayed, whose own solo adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail inspired her bestselling memoir, What do you make of this perception? Why do you believe so few women are memorialized in this way, despite their brave adventures?

  9. In Chena Hot Springs, surrounded by Joy’s best friends, Amy writes, “I close my eyes and remember: the truck, her laughter, her incantation. Joy insisted it was God’s miracle that brought the two of us together, but I don’t believe in miracles. I believe she did this. I did this. We (250).” Why does this realization feel important to Amy at this time? Why might this moment feel so important to Amy?

  10. In the days between Joy’s memorial service and the trucking convoy held in her name, Amy rents a Jeep and drives to Denali and then south to Anchorage, where she boards a glacier cruise and asks a pilot to fly her over Mt. Marcus Baker and the highest point in the Chugach Range. Why are these moments significant? What would you do with several “down” days in Alaska?

  11. At the memorial trucking convoy, Amy reflects, “I thought about the little fears women give in to every day, and how men—despite some trying—can’t really ever know any of them. I thought about how often and how many women in this world are made to feel small or weak or dumb, helpless or afraid. I think of all the men I’ve allowed that luxury. I won’t do it anymore (255).” Do you agree with her assessment? Why or why not? What might it look like—for Amy, for you, or for any woman—not to allow others that luxury?

  12. Just prior to leaving Alaska, Amy decides, "The luckiest people in this world are those who manage to reinvent, to live so many lives in the one life that they are given.” Do you agree? In what ways have you reinvented in your own lives? Do you believe you have you lived many lives in the one life you’ve been given? What might it look like to live life differently?

  13. Do you believe Amy’s friendship with Joy ultimately helped her process her past experiences with violent, abusive men and heal? If so, how? And if not, why?

  14. How do you interpret the final passage of this book? “When I wake an hour later, it is to lime-green lights flickering over­head. I think it’s the flight attendant, come to offer me ginger ale. But in the oval window of Alaskan evening, I see stars and then something else—something I’d waited my whole life to see, something wild and well lit and dancing, something some people believe is God. Is that you? I ask. Of course it is (255.)” What is the feeling or thought you believe Amy is trying to evoke in this moment?

  15. What is the strongest or most affecting part of this book for you?

bottom of page