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The Forgotten Road


The Forgotten Road

“Historically, the beginning of Route 66 has changed multiple times, but the currently accepted start is beneath a heavily decaled Route 66 sign on Adams Street, just a half block west of the Art Institute of Chicago. I touched the sign pole, then started my walk.”

The airplane that Charles James was supposed to have taken crashed moments after takeoff, killing everyone on board. By some miracle, he missed his flight. Now he has a chance to reexamine his life. While he’s been exceptionally successful, he’s been more and more unhappy lately. Where once his wealth and rise to the top was what drove him, those things have lost their luster. So now that the world thinks he’s dead, a host of new options opens up for him. Should he go back to doing what he was doing or try something radically different?

Charles has dreamed about walking Route 66 --- literally dreamed about it. Maybe, he thinks, he should make that dream come true. In fact, when he seriously considers it, he realizes how prophetic it is. He lives in Chicago, one end of 66. The only woman he ever loved, his ex-wife, lives at the other end, in Santa Monica. He’d like a second chance with her. What, really, has he got to lose? After all, he’s been given one second chance already. Perhaps it’s his destiny. So he touches that sign pole and starts walking.

"I loved this book. Charles James began as just one more mega millionaire who looked down on the little man. But by the end, he’d grown into someone I wouldn’t mind meeting."

Charles never believed it would be easy. And it isn’t. In fact, it turns out to be a lot tougher than he had dreamed, but maybe he earned this sort of penance for the way he’s lived. As Charles walks, he meets people, naturally, but these are real people, everyday people, people who work hard for what they earn. Yet, for some unfathomable reason, they care enough about a man walking the Route to give him what little they have when he hits a rough spot. Not everyone, mind you. There are bad people out there, too.

But Charles experiences life from a whole new angle. Actually, every day brings a whole new angle, and a whole new set of experiences. The lessons he’s learning on this trek are invaluable. Some days, he goes along like a tourist, enjoying all of the kitschy Americana the old highway has preserved. Others, well, the others are the days when he meets the true characters, the genuinely good folk, and the ones who simply do what feels right without thinking of consequences.

Charles has shamelessly taken advantage of people for most of his career. He trampled all over people, even the guy who gave him his big break, so he trusts one, maybe two people. On the road, he must learn to understand the motives of people who offer him a hand. Could those motives be as simple as helping a fellow human in his time of need?

THE FORGOTTEN ROAD is truly transformational --- not only for Charles, but for anyone who reads it. You follow the change in the man. You see it reflected at the beginning of each chapter, where a quote from his walking diary is featured. And he writes some pretty insightful comments in that diary. It will give anyone hope that, with determination and strength --- and, yes, trust --- change is within reach.

I loved this book. Charles James began as just one more mega millionaire who looked down on the little man. But by the end, he’d grown into someone I wouldn’t mind meeting. His metamorphosis from the first page to the last is remarkable. THE FORGOTTEN ROAD is the second in Richard Paul Evans’ trilogy that began with THE BROKEN ROAD. Now it looks like readers will have to wait until spring of 2019 for THE ROAD HOME. Let’s hope time flies. I’m ready now.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 25, 2018

The Forgotten Road
by Richard Paul Evans

  • Publication Date: April 30, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1501111809
  • ISBN-13: 9781501111808