Every book runs the course of its story, but rarely that course is literal. In Richard Paul Evans’ book The Walk, the main character’s path is just that. Evans writes a pulsating novel that brings heartbreak as well as joy throughout its course. The Walk is a riveting story that wonderfully tells the story of a hurting and loveable man that takes a journey across the country to in the wake of tragedy through his journal that repeatedly provides thoughts that encourage the positive moral theme of the story.
The Walk follows the story of Alan Christofferson, a Washington Ad Executive, and his experiences as his life comes crashing down before him. Alan’s wife, the beautiful McKale, is thrown from atop her horse while riding, and his life is interrupted completely. As a result of the accident, Alan is forced to spend much time away from work and in the hospital with McKale. His love and care for his wife and lifelong best friend causes his business partners to walk away and start their own business, leaving Alan with nothing. The only person who stayed with Alan’s business was his receptionist Falene, who proves to be a friend to Alan in the events that unfold. The shocking events that follow throw the reader as well as the characters for a loop. McKale dies from complications from her injuries. As Alan returns home, he finds that his house is being foreclosed, and he must vacate it. All of these events pushed Alan near to a point of no return. With pills in his hand and ready to take his own life, he remembers the last words of his late wife: “Live,” while a voice comes to him telling him, “Life is not yours to take.” Alan drops the pills and chooses to pick up and embark on a walking journey to the farthest place in the country from his home: Key West, Florida. The story is his testimony of events as he searches for purpose in his life.
Alan Christofferson is the strong-willed and captivating main character of The Walk. After hearing McKale’s desire for him to live and a voice telling him to do so too, Alan becomes a man who has a will to keep pressing on no matter what it takes. This will is exhibited as he has the chance to end it all as an attacker held a knife at him. Though he could have died, when asked, he told the attacker he didn’t want to die. This will grows stronger throughout the story as his will to keep going is tested. His dry sense of humor also carries him through his journey. For example, in a sales pitch, Alan attempts to make light of a bad situation as he pitches a humorous ad to a fair saying, “Have a KILLER time,” referring to a murder that occurred at a previous fair. Alan also pokes fun at the names of several small towns. As he learns about an “alien landing” in a town called Wibur, he ponders as he reaches the next town that “Creston” would be a “much better town name for an alien landing.” This dry sense of humor is a key element for Alan to keep his head through his walk and keeps the reader wanting to keep reading.
Evans incorporates the use of the main character’s diary at the beginning of every chapter to introduce a deeper connection between the reader and the characters. This diary includes some of Alan’s intimate thoughts and inquiries about life and his journey. For example, he writes early in the book, “Often the simplest of decisions carry the direst of consequences.” This is a deep, philosophical thought that leaves the reader contemplating such decisions from his or her own life. Alan also references sayings and writings in his diary. He does this to start chapter thirty-five as he references the work of Kierkegaard when he writes, “’we understand our lives backward, but must live them forward. He was right, of course…” He reflects back on this saying and causes the reader to do the same. This literary element gives the reader a chance to better understand the purpose of the book.
The purpose, or the theme, of the book is to never take anything for granted. This theme is supported several times as Alan realizes his life has been taken from him in a flash, and he must adjust to what he never saw coming. For example, Evans writes, “The assumption of time is one of humanity’s greatest follies. We tell ourselves that there’s always tomorrow, when we can no more predict tomorrow than we can the weather. Procrastination is the thief of dreams.” This quote contributes to the theme that one should not take for granted the reality of tomorrow when tomorrow may not happen. The theme is also revealed when Evans writes of McKale’s initial homecoming from the hospital. He shows Alan’s optimism as he writes, “It could be worse. I could have come home alone.” Evans demonstrates that things can also be worse, yielding the message to the reader to never take advantage of his or her circumstances but to instead make the most out of them.
This emotional roller coaster tells a story to which many feel empathetic and all feel sympathetic. It is a book worth reading for anyone who is interested in finding how others find meaning in life when he or she is searching to find the same. The heart-breaking plot sets up a heart-warming story that no person who reads can forget. As Alan Christofferson finds meaning in life, so will one who reads this story as life and death present a battle throughout a journey that many will never experience. Richard Paul Evans brilliantly shows how The Walk is an inspirational adventure that can help change the life of anyone who seeks its power. He does this through his portrayal of Alan Christofferson as well as his use of a personal diary to show the truth in the story’s theme: never take anything for granted.
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