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Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward

Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward - Keith Maginn While many of us dream of taking an unscheduled road trip and many of us dream of making the world a better place, author Keith Maginn did both. With his friend Emily, he traveled through the Southeastern US with stops to volunteer and give away money to deserving strangers. In Goodwill Tour, Keith tells their story and the stories of those they helped.

I was a bit nervous starting this because it had no Goodreads reviews. This meant that my opinion would be the only opinion and what if I didn’t like it? I would feel pretty bad. So I was thrilled when I could tell within the first few pages that this book was going to blow me away. The author’s description of family car trips and his longing to just drive around the country really resonated with me. The writing reminded me of classic adventures like The Swiss Family Robinson in which the writing is plain but still has a poetic ability to speak to the human spirit.

My only complaint about this story is that it included many quotes and many descriptions of food for such a short book. In general though, the author’s use of quotes and detailed descriptions worked for me. I liked that the author included a number of e-mails he and Emily exchanged. I also enjoyed the personal idiosyncrasies, the rough patches, and the small details he shared. Together these things brought the story to life and made me connect with the author and Emily as real people. I feel a bit strange saying that about non-fiction since it is real, but fiction or non-fiction, not every author can achieve that!

Actually I lied… I do have one more complaint. I wanted more! I loved the way the author wrapped up, with thoughtful but not sappy reflection on his trip and the people they helped. I thought the whole thing had great emotional impact and packed a punch for such a small book. That said, I enjoyed this book enough that it could have been twice as long and it only would have made me happier.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.