Shift Happens by Margot Genger

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Shift Happens: a memoir by Margot Genger

Shift Happens by Margot GengarStars: *****

Bowker (2018)
327 pages

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. 


Short Version: The author takes us on a tour of her past as a truck driver across the USA in the late 70s and early 80s. This was at a time when women were not treated as equals and a woman truck driver was rare. She also shares her struggles with Bipolar, family issues and addictions. 

Long Version: Out of desperation to escape the confines of her small, northern California town, in 1979, Genger breaks every rule of her social class, gender, and upbringing to become a long-haul truck driver. Shift Happens, is a twenty-first Century incarnation of the classic voyage to find one’s self, and one’s homeland. By facing her mental health and addiction demons, at the age of 28, she sees her role as a young woman flip-flop from cheerleader, girl friend, young wife, sex-symbol to a strong, self-determined individual who knows what she wants and how to succeed.

Along the way, Margot discovers the many facets of America—its beauty and its meanness—and eventually realizes what she values in ‘home.’ Ms. Genger’s gift of description paints the majesty of the beaches, mountains, meadows, and skyscapes of the countryside, and captures the colors and grit of our cities, truck stops, and underground lives of long-haul truck drivers. Shift Happens will make you laugh, cringe, and celebrate as you meet Margot’s driving partners, Southerners, Yankees, East Coast, West Coast, and Middle Americans of all stripes and colors as she delivers everything from Hustler Magazines to Washington State apples. – from

Shift Happens

What drew my interest at first was that the book was about life as a truck driver because that’s something I know very little about. Also life in the 70s is before my time so that was new to me too. I was also intrigued because the author suffers from Bipolar which as a fellow sufferer instantly makes me interested in a book. This book isn’t “about” Bipolar though. It’s just a small part of the overall story.

I found the most interesting part was seeing what life was like then in all the different states. How many places where blacks and whites were segregated was shocking to me who grew up in the late 80s and 90s mostly.

Margot wrote the book by taking copious notes during that part of her life and putting them together afterwards. But the book reads like there was a narrator telling her story as she lived it. It is well written and had me very interested throughout the whole book. I never got bored. I am very glad to have read her memoir as it opened up my worldview.

If you find women truck driving interesting or like memoirs that don’t hold back on the bad but also have good that makes you smile, Shift Happens is a great read.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.