23 February 2011 ~ 0 Comments

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre

What an intriguing book and an intriguing idea. Not to mention a little nuts and a lot brave. I’m not an Oprah fan, but apparently the author went on her show about this book and his journey several years ago. I must admit that I almost didn’t read it because I figured it would be too much of that “finding yourself” stuff that just drives me insane.

Instead… well, it’s kind of sad. I can tell you with almost 300% certainty that I would not pick up a hitchhiker. Ever. Maybe it was just the type of people Mike was picked up by or the parts of the country he went through, but some of these people had the saddest stories. I know, it’s real life to these folks, but man, it was kind of a downer. However, the good parts, the people that were genuinely good and somewhat normal made me smile.

I’m giving this four stars because it was well written and very interesting. I read it quickly and I enjoyed Mike’s ability to let us into his life as well as his journey. I like that he let us know how things ended up after his trip was over. I felt that I got that sense of closure I so badly want with any memoir.

I will also admit that I didn’t agree with some of the thing he said. He mentioned that he felt like those that had the least to give, gave the most. And while I understand, I think it may have been a bit out of context. He seemed to travel through some depressed areas and I wonder if that didn’t contribute to his extrapolation of that. I’m not saying that the poor folks can’t be generous, but I’m not sure it was fair to say that had he been hitchhiking through a more affluent area, if he wouldn’t have been treated just as well. Maybe not. I don’t know.

The pacing was well done on this novel, I didn’t feel like he rushed anything or drew it out too far. I look forward to reading more from this author.

I would recommend this book for those that enjoy memoirs or travel stories. Or anyone, really, that is just looking for something a little different.

I’m still not picking up any hitchhikers myself. Ever.

“Could you survive a cross-country trip relying only on the kindness of strangers? Well, Mike McIntyre did. He put our country to the test, and what he found out sure surprised me.” — Oprah Winfrey.

“Fascinating. I wish I had thought of this.” — Bill O’Reilly.

The Kindness of Strangers is the story of one man’s continental leap of faith—and the country that caught him. Stuck in a job he no longer found fulfilling, journalist Mike McIntyre felt his life was quickly passing him by. So one day he hit the road to trek from San Francisco to the Cape Fear Coast of North Carolina with little more than the clothes on his back and without a single penny in his pocket. Through his travels, he found varying degrees of kindness in strangers from all walks of life—and discovered more about people and values and life on the road in America than he’d ever thought possible. The gifts of food and shelter he received along the way were outweighed only by the touching gifts of the heart—the willingness of many he met to welcome a lonely stranger into their homes…and the discovery that sometimes those who give the most are the ones with the least to spare.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book count for 2011: 12

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