Americana (and the act of getting over it) by Luke Healy

Healy has never hiked or really camped but decides to walk from the Mexican border up to the Canadian border on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) a mere 2,660 miles. He is, in fact, desperate to get a job in America and stay there working but can’t. So, in order to see what America is all about, he goes hiking.

Whilst he does a lot of homework from books and videos, I think it would be fair to say that the actual physical homework probably isn’t enough although he did complete the trail and was stronger and fitter by the time it ended. Along the walk, he meets up with a range of other ‘thruhikers’, some he likes and wants to walk with and some he doesn’t but the walk is long and he bumps into individuals and groups time and time again. The book is long too, to match the trail, consisting of a fair amount of text and them the comic images. These are all in red and white or blue and white – appropriate colours for the content.

As any long distance hiker will tell you, its often not the walking or the scenery that convince you to give up, it’s your own mind that does it. You have to have a certain amount of determination to get up after a cold night, eat a tiny, dry breakfast with no hot drink and set off on what you know will be another 30 miles of cold, wet weather up and down the hills and hope that you don’t have to camp on your own. So it is also the story of a psychological journey to make it to Canada and the wondering how much you want it.

On the journey, Healy is filled with awe at the views, the vast expanse of the country and some of the places he travels through and where he sometimes stops for a night. But there is also the other side of America, as there is in any country, and that does start to rear its head from early on. He meets homophobia, landscapes littered with human detritus, people having a smoke (!) and those who will vote Trump. Slowly, slowly, he falls a little out of love with America and with the ties of home in Ireland calling when his Grandpa dies, you are almost certain that at the end he won’t stay in America.

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