The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
A Book Review
“Grief finds it hard to keep up with you when you’re on the move.” A man I met while I was travelling in Mexico once said this to me. I’d been grieving over my wife leaving me, and at the time I hadn’t fully understood the man’s statement. Going away hadn’t made me feel any better; if anything I felt more depressed than before.
I wish I’d stumbled across The Walk sooner because it would have given me faith to keep travelling into the unknown, and I would have avoided trying to return to my old life. A life that no longer worked for me. You can learn more about this story here: This Walk Will Change Your Life.
The protagonist of the novel, Alan Christoffersen, is living the American dream — he’s a self-made man running his own advertising agency, married to his childhood sweetheart and living a lavish lifestyle. Then suddenly like an earthquake, Alan’s life comes crashing down around him, all in a matter of days. His wife dies following a riding accident and while he’s at her hospital bedside his right-hand man pilfers the company’s clients. Then the money stops coming in.
Alan reacts by doing the only one thing that makes sense to him — something that has been living inside him for as long as he can remember — a desire to walk, a compulsion to go on a distant sojourn. Closing the door on his reposed home he sets off to walk to the furthest point on his map, a journey that will take him across America from Seattle to Key West, Florida.
“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” — Buddha
The journey puts us in touch with small-town America or really the bubbles we build around our lives, a form of protection against the unknown, the comfort of familiarity. And it would be so easy for Alan to attempt to step back into that world.
However, even though his grief is walking alongside him he chooses to put one foot in front of the other; leading him to where he does not really know, apart from the dot on the other side of the continent.
And what follows is the magic of contradictions — Alan has lost his reason for being and yet he strides forward (of course there are moments of extreme anxiety and self-doubt and his walk is not without drama) and magically the right people at the right time intersect his path. They’re written as chance and often brief encounters. But what they demonstrate is that the universe has a habit of lending a hand to those who take action and help themselves.
“We are all on a walk. Perhaps not as literal as mine, but a walk all the same.” — Richard Paul Evans, The Walk
The story is written in diary form and follows a road movie-style narrative, a formula whereby the protagonist is a part voyeur and part student/teacher. And it works extremely well; it’s as if you’re shadowing Alan on the walk.
My fingers are continuing to walk their way through the pages of the series(The Walk is the first book of five) and Alan and the people he meets on the way are teaching me that second chances are always possible. Each day, each moment, each step is always an opportunity to start anew.
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