There is a group of authors that write what I call “light fiction.” Richard Paul Evans, Nicholas Sparks, Mitch Albom all fall into this category. There isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking about their writing, they aren’t part of a movement or trend (zombies, vampires,) and they steer away from controversy (The DaVinci Code, 50 Shades of Grey.) But they tell decent stories that keep your attention, and they seem to churn them out at a remarkable rate. Plus, their books are comfortable and their subjects are familiar. We need that sometimes. It is like drinking milk or listening to Barry Manilow. We know they are formulaic, but we don’t care.
Something else these authors do is tap into the normal human experiences of love and loss and being touched by someone along Life’s path. We can all relate to that. They are the relationships that enrich us and create extraordinary experiences among ordinary lives. They make our existence magical, if only in brief chapters–a mentor, a teacher, a friendship, a fleeting love affair, or even someone we met on the street.
Let’s focus on the concept of loss, because that is the topic of The Walk. Think about it–what would you do if you lost everything? Your spouse, your business, your home? Would you become numb? Consider ending it all?
The cruelest thing about loss is that while your world is crumbling, the rest of the world moves on without you. The sun continues to rise and set each day. People go on with their lives. Condolences–although appreciated and well-meaning–don’t take the hurt or confusion away.
The main character, Alan, deals with his loss in an unusual way. He decides to go walking. Across the country. It’s simple and productive, and he’s hoping it will alleviate his pain.
And where does God fit into loss? There are people who need someone to blame, so they blame God. He’s an easy target. You can’t see Him and He isn’t going to get into an argument with you. You feel like the “supposed” winner. Or maybe winner by forfeit.
Ally, a waitress Alan encounters in the book, makes a profound observation. People tend to blame God for taking things away from us, but how often do they remember that He was the one who gave them to us in the first place?
As I said, The Walk isn’t trying to cure cancer. But it is a thoughtful, quick read with relatable characters. And, let’s face it, loss is something we all have in common. How we deal with it, however, is very personal.