An unlikely pilgrim battles agoraphobia to reclaim life beyond the sofa. The 800-kilometer journey along the Camino Frances provides a scenic backdrop to ponder midlife crisis and chronic illness, an empty nest and marital woes, military service and posttraumatic stress, rage and grief, heartbreak and fear - And the way forward.
El Camino de Santiago, known fondly as The Way, is a matrix of trails with starting points across Europe leading to the sacred relics of Saint James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Often considered a Catholic pilgrimage, this ancient route predates Christianity. The Way continues to evolve, attracting spiritual seekers with and without religion, thru-hikers, fitness junkies, history buffs, and the curious.
Armed with humor and grit and a backpack named little Agnus, Lockhart tackles emotional and physical obstacles, shares adventures with pilgrims from all over the world, mothers traveling teens, endures blisters and bicycle seats and embraces the glory of Mother Nature and the intrinsic spirituality of peregrination. She finds herself transcending from a human being on a spiritual quest to a spiritual being on a human quest.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.25 out of 10
Plot: This memoir of healing travel has adventure, emotional tension, commonsense insights, honesty, and good humor. All of this helps to keep the pages turning. Overall, the book is well constructed, with some humor helping to offset more emotionally painful vignettes.
Prose: The voice is distinct and the prose moves the story along at a good pace. The straightforward, contemporary tone is augmented by some admirable turns of phrase.
Originality: There is no shortage of memoirs about physical and spiritual journeys, but this one is unique because of its protagonist. The Camino de Santiago trek will be different for every traveler, and Lockhart uses an excellent voice to capture that fact.
Character Development: All of the players—even the secondary characters—are vivid, engaging, and well rendered.
Date Submitted: June 24, 2018