Author: Sebastian Junger
This is my 76th read for the year
This is the story of the author - a journalist and novelist - who took 2 Afgan war vets and a conflict photographer on a 400 mile journey from Washington DC to Connellsville, PA along the railroad tracks. Their journey was to unteather themselves from every day life and reflect on the time in the war, and their lives since. The author talks about what it was like to be free - to walk, sleep, eat, and journey where they wanted. Along with the people they meet and the towns they visit (he talks mostly about the towns in Pennsylvania) he recounts railroad history and others who have walked the tracks.
My husband bought me this book for mother's day when he found out it ended in our hometown of Connellsville, PA. Our sleepy little town isn't the center of a lot of books by famous writers (Junger wrote "The Perfect Storm" - a novel turned movie many of us are familiar with), so I was excited to tackle this little book. I LOVED the parts where he talked about his journey on the tracks, the people he met in the Pennsylvania towns along the way, and espeically the small sections about Connellsville. But this book was like two novels in one. Instead of having one track (personal stories/personal journey) he threw in a lot of history that just felt disconnected to the rest of the book. Not always, but enough that I found myself wishing that he would have left those parts out. The history seemed a bit "all over the place" which is the best way I can describe it and I never felt that it was connected to their journey in a meaningful way. I could have skipped many of those parts completely and found an enjoyable story.
For such a short book, there was really no reason to throw in "beef" for this book. I can imagine what he saw, heard, and the people he met along the way could have filled many books. I am glad I read it for the Connellsville part of this story, but without that connection, this would not have been a book I would recommend.