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Publisher's Summary

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read "Walking to Listen".

He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn't know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide. In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers. 

Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn't know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself. Ultimately, it's the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself on the most human level.

©2017 Andrew Forsthoefel (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A remarkable book that calls to mind William Least-­Heat Moon's Blue Highways." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Unforgettable

I first heard of Andrew Forsthoefel's project a few years ago on a Transom podcast that just blew me away. His audio documentary on his experience was about an hour long, and everyone I recommended it to had a similar reaction to it: we were amazed, inspired, moved, provoked to thought. I hoped he would write a book one day. This is even better--I think it was meant to be in audio as Andrew initially started his journey with the intent to record his experience in audio. This book is a wonderful expansion of the story we got a glimpse of in his original audio doc.

This is such a necessary story at a time when America is full of loud voices competing to be heard over one another, when perceptions of those who live in different communities than our own are pretty narrow. At a time like this, when the powers that be continue to benefit from our increasing polarization and encourage a narrative about us vs. them, there's something completely arresting—no, shocking—about the strange, humble, and completely genuine desire to listen and learn that compels this very young man to journey through America...and how this catalyst stirs up a massive amount of wisdom and love. I mean it, *love.* You have to listen to experience it.

Andrew's journey is fascinating and at times harrowing, and it isn't what one might think, i.e. just some privileged white kid trying to find himself on the edge (my initial skepticism at the beginning of the podcast—how wrong I was). He recognizes the risks he's taking without ignorant bravado or a need to be noticed/seen. In fact, he didn't seek or have much publicity about what he was doing during his journey. So this book truly is not just another contrived (albeit well-meaning) "let's go on a trip or do a social experiment and sell a book about My Experience!" gimmick by another millennial seeking a public platform (shallow books that seem to glut the market these days).

This is something else, something special. Not only is it grounded in authenticity, it's outward-focused, even though it's a memoir about Andrew's personal experience. Moreover, it's written eloquently and with a sense of both gravity and wonder that never comes across as glib or self-important.

In a widening sea of even of memoirs of journeys, this is one of the most exceptional and universally relevant ones I've come across. I'd say it's a must-read for any American in particular. I can't think of a single person (regardless of age, race, political leaning, etc) who's heard his story hasn't said they were deeply touched by it. The most common response: "It was beautiful."

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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glorious story!

incredible, insightful, eloquent, inspiring, hopeful, joyous, humble documentary of a young man's journey toward self discovery. thank you Andrew!!!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Restores hope in mankind

Encouraging story with great quotes sprinkled throughout. How refreshing to hear the story told from the actual author at a leisurely pace to help the hearer better absorb the message.

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Beautiful Book.

I'm forever changed by his journey, an absolutely amazing book from an amazing human being.

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loved it

could have kept reading
until he walked back i wish he had it was amazing

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walking to criticize

I could not even finish, although I tried. I thought I was going to hear stories from the people encountered on walk. wrong, all that was offered is opinion after opinion about the people and places based on his own ideas of how things should be. the book should be renamed walking and talking. I honestly don't even believe some of it. I have been on audible for a long time and love listening to books. This was the biggest waste of my money so far, I have never just gave up on a book. sorry so negative but I bought this book based on a review, a review obviously written by his Mom. buy at your own risk.

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Unorthodox hike report

Hiking books are not uncommon, like books about the AT, Wild, that sort of thing, but this dude did it on interstates from Philly to California. Really interesting journey with a lot of introspection and interactions with people along the way. Definitely recommend for wanderer in all of us.

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What a story!

This is the story of an amazing journey. It’s an honor to have heard it (albeit recorded) from the protagonist himself. His narration is exceptional minus a few mispronunciations. The story gets repetitive at times, but the walk must have as well. I thought Andrew framed too many things in terms of race, but I may be among few who don’t. All in all, this was quite the adventure! I highly recommend the book to all who may be interested.