"The Road to Grace" (Simon and Schuster, $19.99) is Richard Paul Evans' third book in The Walk" series. It is a book that has many valuable life lessons for those of all ages.
"The Road to Grace" continues Alan Christoffersen's walk across the country. Taking place in the Midwest, Christoffersen is now halfway through his journey. As he comes closer to his destination in Florida, he encounters many physical and mental hardships. In order to overcome these trials, Christoffersen has to learn to open his mind and accept the wisdom of those around him.
"This is an interesting book," Evans said. "It has different vignettes that were more fun to write. The main character, Alan, has also started to evolve as a person. He is spiritually maturing as he learns more about forgiveness and grace."
Still reeling from the death of his wife and the loss of his business, Christoffersen meets a variety of people who help him learn the principles of forgiveness. Perhaps the most memorable is a Holocaust survivor named Leszek. As Christoffersen learns of his time in the death camps, he realizes that he needs to let go of grudges.
"Alan is really testing his relationship with God," Evans said. "He is more of a believer than he gives himself credit for. Alan learns that life will test his beliefs, and he needs to be prepared for when these hard times come."
Perhaps the most striking parts of the book are the descriptions of historical places and people. Evans has an appreciation for places that are significant and yet unappreciated and unheard of.
In order to properly research the book, Evans took his daughter Jenna on a nine-day road trip across the country. "We were not looking forward to this trip. We thought it was going to be pretty miserable because of all the notes I would have to take," he said, "but it ended up being a great trip. We stopped by the birthplaces of Mark Twain and J.C. Penney. We saw Walt Disney's home and even stopped by Wall Drug. So many imaginative people lived in one area." These are places that Christoffersen also passes through in the book.
Evans said that most of the stories in the book happened to him and his daughter while they were on their trip. He recalls an encounter with women who belonged to the Red Hat Society. He said they were a great group of women who liked to comment about all the attractive men in the room. Christoffersen's encounter with the women is just as memorable.
Evans recalled the friendliness of the people in the areas he traveled. "I was driving down a road when a man stopped my car and told me I was going the wrong way." The small-town feel certainly comes across in the book as Christoffersen travels through many places that have only one restaurant or small hotel.
Though written with a religious tone, "The Road to Grace" is for people of all beliefs. It is an intriguing story that is enjoyable to read.
Though the ending is unexpected, it is still an enlightening book. Many people will be able to relate to Christoffersen and his situation.
The "Walk" series has been given several Wilbur awards. The fourth book will come out in April 2013. When asked what was next for Christoffersen, Evans said, "I have no idea. You start out with a beginning and an end point and you have no idea what comes in between. It is all about how Alan gets to the end of his journey."
Shelby Scoffield is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.
If you go ...
What: Richard Paul Evans book signing
When: Tuesday, May 8, noon
Where: Barnes and Noble, Gateway Crossing, 340 S. 500 West, West Bountiful
When: Tuesday, May 8, 7 p.m.
Where: Barnes and Noble, Layton Market Center, 1780 N. Woodland Park Drive, Layton
When: Saturday, May 12, 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Where: Costco, 5201 S. Intermountain Drive, Murray
When: Saturday, May 12, 1-2:45 p.m.
Where: Sam's Club, 11278 S. Jordan Gateway, South Jordan
When: Saturday, May 12, 5-7 p.m.
Where: Costco, 3656 Wall Ave., South Ogden