Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce
Fiction, E-book

People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The inhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.

I went into Harold Fry expecting a feel good story. Instead, I felt the weight of the above quote throughout most of it. It did have uplifting moments but overall, it was quite sad and heavier than expected. 

Harold sets out to mail a letter and ends up walking across England to deliver it in person, reflecting on his life as he goes. Harold's life has been one full of sadness and regret. On his travels, he encounters strangers burdened by their own personal tragedies. I could identify with Harold in some ways: the social awkwardness and anxiety, and especially his tendency to let his fear prevent him from doing what he'd like or, in some cases, what he should. I spend a lot of time thinking about the example I want to set for my daughter and this has been on my mind, especially because there have been times since she was born that I let my anxieties get the best of me and have ended up wishing I'd done some things differently. Her great-grandfather passed away when she was about two months old and they never met, even though we all live in the same city. That still weighs really heavily on our hearts. Both my husband and I are introverts, which is not a bad thing, but I want my baby girl to know that it's ok to put yourself out there and to take chances. I don't want her to be held back by fear. 

Getting back to the book itself, I enjoyed the writing and the way it was structured, for the most part. I liked that we got to see deeper into Harold's past as his journey progressed. It did get repetitive at times and I didn't really care for the group of "pilgrims" that join Harold at one point. Thanks to an inconsiderate Amazon reviewer, I was spoiled on some information that is revealed towards the end which changes the perception of a lot of what comes before so that part held less impact for me than it otherwise might have. Still, this was a satisfying read to kick off the new year.

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