Book number 6: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.
What it is: Raw, honest, nostalgic, and bold, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry totally captured my fancy. It has that begin again feel that I just love. The story is filled with ridiculous hope it almost has a fairy tale quality to it; after all, Harold Fry is this old man, recently retired, his life totally done and over with, yet he embarks on an unexpected journey one day, without any plans, without anything really, but just “trusting what you don’t know and going for it.”
The entire thing is dynamic, covering the beautiful and the ugly of human nature, celebrating it in a dramatic but ever so subtle way. Insights on faith, loss, regret, acceptance, and letting go are stretched throughout, as well as beautiful and sad truths about relating to other people, finding yourself, and simply having something to believe in, taking action, and claiming it as your own. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is truly an easy read but packs a big punch that dares you to move forward.
What I liked about it: The message of the story is refreshing. “We’ve all got things we wish we’d done, or hadn’t” and it takes “a little less sense, and a little more faith” to do something about it, to “imagine something bigger and something infinitely more beautiful than the obvious,” and that’s exactly what Harold Fry did, against all odds.
Normally, the accepted way of thinking is you have to know your shit, but The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry just manslaughtered that belief: “There were times, he saw, when not knowing was the biggest truth, and you had to stay with that.”
I’ve always been a believer in instincts, you know? I loved the line, “I can’t explain why I think I can get there, when all the odds are against it. But I do. Even when a big part of me is saying I should give up, I can’t. Even when I don’t want to keep going, I still do it.” This is totally underrated in today’s society btw, where everyone is just “hanging on to an order or a set of rules that had never really existed.” It’s bleak, uninspiring, and nauseating. “If we don’t go mad every once in a while, there’s no hope.”
My favorite line in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is this one: “People would make the decisions they wished to make, and some of them would hurt both themselves and those who loved them, and some would pass unnoticed, while some would bring joy.” I like it because it’s open, imperfect but the only way to go. “Knowing this, it seemed important to allow himself to be true to the instincts that made him Harold, as opposed to anyone else.”
What I did not like about it: Some of the lines are over kill and I admit to feeling moments of drag particularly towards the end but I forgive The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry if only for the sole reason that I support its cause. The idea pushed in this story is what scares the motherfucking daylights out of everyone and I love how it just pushed boundaries over 600 miles and went for the knockout.
Recommended for: Read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry if you sometimes think you’ve “become more memory than present.”