For the first time in a very long while, I found myself unable to stop reading a book. All my other plans and projects fell by the wayside. And, the additional shocker in that complete captivation for me was that this is a memoir, not a novel, plus is over 400 pages long. Being so caught up in a book that I couldn't put it down used to happen to me constantly, up until a few years ago. However, over the past five years, I often have multiple books going at the same time, flitting from one to the other, easily distracted. Not so with The Trail.
The author, Elizabeth Sheehan, surprised me with how quickly I was captivated by her tale; I didn't expect to be. I bought the book simply because I was curious. I had watched the movie The Way recently (which is fantastic), and recalled that Elizabeth had written of her own experiences on The Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile walk from one end of Spain to the other that is a 1000-year-old pilgrimage. And, since I knew a little about Elizabeth from reading her mother Molly's blog for years now, I figured I'd give it a go.
Elizabeth brings her unique perspective truthfully and earnestly in to the story. From the beginning, I applaud her honesty in revealing her desires and demands upon herself and others, and admire how she reveals enough backstory of her follow pilgrims to create a connection yet beautifully respects their confidences by not sharing intimate details of their deeply personal journeys. Elizabeth's writing straddles the arrogance of youth (she's 24 when she begins her walk) and a lovely budding wisdom firmly founded upon her spirituality and her family.
Much of her writing is simply gorgeous, and there are many moments where the prose is exquisite. I wish that I had made notes of those very special turns of phrase that brought incredible light and joy into my very being. But you'll just have to find them for yourself by reading the book.
Ultimately, I couldn't put the book down because I felt Elizabeth's angst and desperation, and wanted to know what would happen, and ... because she returned me to my own feelings and experiences of early adulthood with its challenging path of growth from youth to maturity. Throughout, she beautifully alternates between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the journey. While the book is nearly all narrative, with only the rare venture into recalled dialogue, I was never bored as she enticed me to follow in her wake along the Camino.
I highly recommend The Trail ~ A True Tale of the Camino by Elizabeth Sheehan.