Cross Country - A 3,700-Mile Run to Explore Unseen America
A few pages into this book, I was completely hooked. Rickey Gates starts off with his motivation to run across the US (from the East to the West), then goes on to describing his route in more detail. From the beginning of his journey on, Gates starts including conversations with locals into the story.
The book is designed to show how people and their culture change as Gates moves further west. However, the snippets of conversation are too short and it’s hard to make out a common thread in these little stories. Gates plainly talks about his encounters with locals and leaves the reader alone to judge. Although I welcome the distance to the author’s own thoughts in these situations, I wish there were a few more pages to this book that show Gates’ own experiences and challenges he faced while running. The book is supposed to show the “ordinary and extraordinary people and place he saw along the way,” but the little stories he tells are too shallow to really let the reader in.
The book defeats its purpose of showing “the divided America” (as stated in the book description) because most of the author’s interactions with people rather express a sense of hospitality and willingness to help than referring to political opinions.
Overall, the story remains rather superficial. I think a book like this should live from the experiences and challenges the author goes through in order to find a deeper meaning in the journey. It should also live from vulnerable moments in which the author lets the reader in to his thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, the story remains just plain and lacks the depth and insight the reader is looking for.
Readers who are looking for a quick and easy-to-read travel story will definitely like this book. Those looking for raw and authentic experiences of someone running 3,700 miles across the US, the book probably won’t live up to their expectations.
In 2017, professional runner Rickey Gates ran 3,700 miles across the continental United States with just a small backpack and an anthropologist’s curiosity to discover the divided America in which we live.
(Source: Book Description)
Rickey Gates is a professional runner who competed on all seven continents.
April 14, 2020