Verdict: THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND is a bleakly funny, dramatically compelling account of a journey both internal and external.
The author, depressed by a breakup and a meaningless job, starts a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail.
John Morris and his fiancee had broken up, and his job as a security guard was starting to seem unfulfilling and dull. He found himself more and more tempted by a dream of achieving something really impressive – hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Though his new girlfriend, Melody, bitterly opposed the plan, Morris decided he finally had to go through with it, and set out with a friend, Torry. He found himself developing a strength and endurance he’d never known he had, and making plenty of friends along the way – but he had also picked one of the coldest springs in recent history to make his journey, and snow, freezing rain, and bitter temperatures threatened to make the walk not only uncomfortable but downright dangerous. Could he make it to Maine in one unfrozen piece – and would he lose Melody in the process?
THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND is part gripping travel diary and part emotional exploration, a young man finding himself amidst the natural beauties and dangers of the wilderness. Morris has a wry, humorous, engaging tone and an innate descriptive ability that makes his journey come to life, from waking up in a cold, soaked hammock after a rain to the deceptively simple but meaningful small kindnesses provided as “trail magic” by other hikers, like sandwiches and fruit distributed at a road crossing. The emotional force of the story is amplified by Morris’s starkly honest and compellingly vivid writing style. Perhaps the footnotes scattered through the text would be better dealt with by a simple explanation in the text, and a quick edit might deal with a few minor issues like overuse of italics or the occasional confusion of homophones like “bear” and “bare,” but otherwise this is a thoroughly captivating book.
THE WORLD WE LEFT BEHIND is a bleakly funny, dramatically compelling account of a journey both internal and external.