Zena Al Maskari

Walking to Listen – A Review

Image courtesy of Target

At the ripe old age of 23, one Andrew Forsthoefel decides to take a walk out his back door and across America. Yes, you read that correctly. America, on foot.

I can’t begin to imagine how Forsthoefel managed to take on this literal adventure of a lifetime, but he explains his reasons in very eloquent and powerful terms in Walking to Listen. The book itself is easy to read, although the ideas and thoughts expressed are not themselves easy at all. Forsthoefel tackles some major personal issues that I think are pretty relatable – what is he doing with his life? Who is he? What is the point to all this?

As a 20-something year old with a lot of anxiety about the future, this book really came at a good time. It helped me clarify some of my own questions and issues with myself as a person, and I think that’s exactly what Forsthoefel intended.

Reading about the incredible kindness Forsthoefel encounters along his walk (people opening up their homes to a stranger) gave me a lot of reassurance in the human race. There are some nasty bits though, but that enriches the very raw human experience recounted in Walking to Listen. Life is not about the good or the bad, it’s about what you take away from those experiences to help you grow as a person.

I don’t know whether to describe Forsthoefel’s written account as autobiographical – he definitely centralises the focus on his own journey across America yet also heavily records the short stories of the people he meets. But this is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed reading Andrew’s story so much; it’s not just his. I love that this book has a wide degree and range of insights packaged into some of life’s biggest questions. You’re presented with a rich palette of opinions and reflections on what to make of this crazy thing called life – and it’s fantastic.

The writing is so raw and genuine that you almost feel you’re there walking along with Forsthoefel, meeting all these incredible individuals and hearing them say their piece. It’s almost impossible to put down; Walking to Listen is truly a unique account that projects the collective voice of so many people’s take on life.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who has any questions about life, or simply wants to go on a journey without moving from their seat.

Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel is a Young Adult book published by Bloomsbury.

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