Posted by Blair Warren
College is an exciting transition into adulthood, full of friends and new experiences. What about after college, though? Do we find it necessary to jump right into our future, immediately stuck in a nine-to-five job and paying bills we didn't even know existed? The novel Young Wanderlust by Evan Kenward explores this question through his traveling with friends, meeting new people, and venturing out on his own. What he thought was just a post-grad road trip became an experience that changed his perspective on life.
Kenward began the journey in his home state of Massachusetts with two childhood friends. Their struggles began with car troubles, as does any good road trip story. This car's fragility and seeming mood swings is present through each passing state and pit stop. Throughout the novel, the reader is consumed not only with the development of the story but also with the tribulations of this old, distinctive car.
I'm glad I read this book while still in college, as it opened my eyes to the reality of my situation. As a college student, we often think we will be forever young with no truly extensive responsibilities, yet four years is not as long as it seems, and then all of a sudden we have mortgages and regularities, falling into the patterns of our parents. During college, Kenward spent a lot of his time taking day trips, going on hikes, and exploring what the nearby world had to offer, accompanied by friends. Yet he wanted to do more and see more. This began his plan to travel across the country, stopping at places like Michigan, Seattle and San Francisco, and even making his way to British Columbia in Canada. What is so fascinating about this story is the spontaneity, the friend dynamics that evolve after being stuck with each other for a long time, and the unexpected discoveries. Kenward shows his readers how truly beautiful this country can be and the magic of traveling not as a tourist, but as an explorer.
A constant theme in the book is the fluidity of characters and the ability to assimilate into different cultures through the mindset of acceptance of norms. Through Kenward's travels, he encounters many people and even stays with strangers greatly unlike him. He tries to be open-minded, though, letting subcultures mesh into his character. He is able to blend in with different types of people, making new friends and gaining different understandings of lifestyles and values.
Talking with Kenward, the themes in his novel persisted. He said, "Traveling and discovering new things is an education in the truest sense. I firmly believe, as a person and human being, that seeing things out of one's normal life is important for an individual."
He emphasized the significance of getting outside of one's comfort zone, branching out of one's life bubble, and not just seeing but understanding what is out there.
He said, "When you go back to your life after traveling, you have the ability to compare and contrast the way things are done in both places. This does a world of good."
After reading this book and talking with Kenward, I have gained a better perspective on the excitement of college, the reality of post-grad, and the importance of exploring what's out there. Although, according to Kenward, my perspective must also be based in experience. People should not rush into things, but instead, appreciate the little things and explore the beautiful, the natural, and the authentic. I recommend this book to anyone willing to appreciate the fluidity and freedom one can find in life.
In the final words of Evan Kenward, "If people like the book, pass it on and let other people know about it."