Product Description

A memoir of one young man’s coming of age on a journey across America–told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the way.

Life is fast, and I’ve found it’s easy to confuse the miraculous for the mundane, so I’m slowing down, way down, in order to give my full presence to the extraordinary that infuses each moment and resides in every one of us.

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide.

In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself.

Ultimately, it’s the stories of others living all along the roads of America that carry this journey and sing out in a hopeful, heartfelt book about how a life is made, and how our nation defines itself on the most human level.


“The ideal antidote for even the strongest bout of national doubt . . . [with] frequent descriptive gems.” – Washington Post

“More than a story of the physical trials and tribulations of walking across the country (although there’s plenty of that too!), this is a deeply felt account of the trials and tribulations of growing up . . . the ‘how do I fit into this world?’ kind of exploration. Enjoy a journey across our country through this fascinating young man’s eyes as he recounts and ponders the stories and life philosophies from people he meets along the way.” – Boston Globe

“Soulful . . . [Forsthoefel’s] openness provides a window into the extraordinary lessons to be learned from ordinary people. This is a memorable and heartfelt exploration of what it takes to hike 4,000 miles across the country and how one young man learned to walk without fear into his future.” – Booklist

“A remarkable book that calls to mind William Least-­Heat Moon’s Blue Highways.” – Starred Review, Library Journal

“In this moving and deeply introspective memoir, Forsthoefel writes about the uncertainties, melodramas, ambiguities, and loneliness of youth . . . Forsthoefel’s walk becomes a meditation on vulnerability, trust, and the tragedy of suburban and rural alienation . . . [his] conversation with America is fascinating, terrifying, mundane, and at times heartbreaking, but ultimately transformative and wise.” – Publishers Weekly

“Forsthoefel offers moments of genuine kinship and transcendence . . . An intriguing portrait of America.” – Kirkus Review

A Great First Book!
on July 1, 2017
Life is good, and a talented writer affirms this truth with words that are both transformative and deeply inspiring. Andrew Forsthoefel is such a writer. He not only “walked the walk,” more importantly, he “heard” the authentic stories of good, regular people all across this country. He did not tell them what life is about, but lovingly invited each person he met to share their story, their unique sufferings and joys, indeed, the heart of their own story. He listened… and he listened well.
Now, he shares the real beauty of who we are—at this crucial time when the skewed media-political image of America projects to the world a culture that appears so brutal and divided. Read Walking to Listen and be lifted up by a perennial truth: “each of our stories is the stuff of all of our stories.” This book will fill readers with gratitude, perhaps re-directing our journey…each one of us walking and listening with open hearts that see and appreciate every other person, every step along the way.
Gregory M Corrigan
Author of Disciple Story


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