The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

Richard Paul Evans’ The Walk is a remarkable journey of the spirit. At 28, Alan Christoffersen had it all. He had married the love of his life, owned a wildly successful advertising company, and was settling into a beautiful and comfortable existence in the Seattle suburbs. A good man, a happy man, Alan could not know how soon his world would shatter. When a terrible accident cripples his family life, the faithful husband stands by his beloved McKale, trusting blindly that his business partner and purported best friend will manage his workaday affairs.

At the moment that he finds himself bereaved, betrayed, homeless, and flat-out broke, he does consider a dark and quick way out of the pain.  He manages to pull away from that moment and decides instead to take a far walk from Seattle to Key West, Florida. Now that he has no one and nothing save a tent, a backpack, and very few provisions, it seems as good a thing to do as any other. Some prefer to grieve and ponder alone, and Alan is one of those people.

The novel might have become a saccharine blend of unmitigated heartwarming encounters, yet this cross-country voyage is not the joyful stuff of a 60s road novel. What would reasonably happen to someone very much out on his own, distracted by grief, who has always lived a comfortable life?  Alan’s walk starts in winter, appropriately as this is surely the winter of his soul. The abruptness of his leaving and lack of financial resources forestalls any useful planning or support so he is in more danger than he realizes. But he feels he must walk. He walks to find a way to keep living, not to forget, never to forget what came before.

The Walk is a hopeful novel even as it unflinchingly encounters despair. It touches on the strength and nature of love and the discovery of faith. This is the first inspirational novel of Evans’ that I have read, and it is the beginning of a series.