Saturday, 6 October 2012

Book Review: The Kindness of Strangers :Penniless Across America - Mike McIntyre

Synopsis - 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 one end of the country to the other 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. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review - It's quite a substantial risk to quit your job and decide to venture on a journey from west to east across America.  To leave behind loved ones for several weeks and to leave your credit cards at home and give your last change to a stranger.  That is what Mike McIntyre did.  Choosing to use a notice labelled with his destinations rather than his thumb, he hitched lifts across the States.  In this day and age of suspicion and fear when you hear of so many murders and abductions in the news he did well for lifts, although there were plenty who passed him by.  The interesting thing was the variety of folk who gave him lifts, both men and women, young and old, rich and poor and some hustlers.  Many of the people who gave him a roof over his head and food at their table were Christian, some via the church and others who were believers but did not necessarily have ties to a particular church.  He met many good people, some with nothing, some coping with mental illness and others who had plenty to give.  Mike's journey was not only a sociological experiment but a personal journey.  He learnt to trust, after all you have to trust the people who offer and he did refuse a lift where he felt the people weren't genuine or were just shady.  On questioning some of his lifts why they picked him up, the response was that he looked genuine, clean cut, clean (dress) and white.  This does open up the fact that parts of America are still very racist, something that came up in conversations along Mike's journey. Mike left San Francisco to start his journey and this is a far more cosmopolitan area than many of the states he crossed to get to Cape Fear which are farmland and have small towns which perhaps explains some of the mentality, although there is no excuse for it.  An interesting read. 3*

Kindle edition: ASIN: B004183KI6

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