Walking to Listen

Andrew Forsthoefel | Nonfiction


Walking to Listen is the story of 23-year-old Andrew who, after graduating from Middlebury College,  walks across the country to listen to everyday people and their stories, on a quest to discover guidance about how to live his life.  Thousands shared their story with him.

With that much information, I was expecting writing akin to one of my favorite books of all time, Working, by Studs Terkel.  Well, of course, that was not Forsthoefel’s book.  He only spends about 10% of the book giving his readers direct quotes from the people he met.  The rest is about him ... his journey, and his thoughts and feelings and reactions to those he meets.

At the beginning, I was put off by this.  First, by my dashed expectations that Walking to Listen was going to be another Working; and second, by my lack of desire to read the self-absorbed angst of a young man whose brain has not fully developed yet.  For these reasons, Walking to Listen earned three hearts.

Still, the story of Andrew’s travels was interesting.  He walks from his mother’s home in Pennsylvania, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and then west to Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast of California.  The people he meets are the salt of the earth.  The further he walks, the wiser he seems to become (which was, I guess, the whole point of his journey!)  I read the final chapter with tears streaming down my face, I was so moved.

So, if this type of story appeals to you, by all means read it.  I think it isn’t for everyone but I, for one, am glad to have come along for this walk.