Young Wanderlust: A book review

The back of Evan Kenward’s self-published debut novel Young Wanderlust asks the questions: What do you do when you graduate college? Do you get a job? Start your career? Begin your young adult life?

If you’re Evan Kenward, a recent University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate, you answer these questions by dropping everything and commencing on a cross-country road trip with two of your two best friends in an unreliable rusted out old Subaru. What happens on the way is up to fate.

Young Wanderlust is a 28-day account of Kenward’s cross-country road trip he took during the early summer months of 2008. Determined to experience everything that the American west and has to offer on a small backpacking budget, Kenward tells his story with optimism and wonderment and engrains in the minds of his readers that spontaneous travel is the true road to complete and total freedom.

Beginning in Massachusetts, Kenward sets off west traversing highways and taking in the sights of middle America. The car holds up for the cross-country drive that included, but was not limited to, memorable stops in the badlands of South Dakota, hot springs in the Nevada desert and a quick camping trip in Yosemite. However, the real part of Kenward’s journey begins when the car that had driven him nearly 3,000 miles across North America breaks down in Eureka, CA. His two traveling companions decide to call it quits and return home to Massachusetts. However, Kenward wasn’t about to let a car come between him and the Pacific Northwest.

Kenward, 3,000 miles from home, has to network his way north. He discovers couch surfing, which provides him with unforgettable experiences that include participating in Vancouver’s Critical Mass (an event hosted on the last Friday of every month in major cities around the US where thousands of bikers take to the streets to promote more sustainable ways of transportation) and sleeping under the stars in Whistler, British Columbia on the shores of a beautiful alpine lake.

Kenward’s genuine admiration for the series of events that lead him to these unforgettable experiences is supported by his smooth prose. He articulates scenes with ease and you feel as if you’re right there looking over his shoulder as he takes on the unknown. The wonderment he must have felt while in the midst of his journey is clearly read and he writes with a confident voice that rarely falters.

The book, however, can be a bit tedious. Rounding out at 476 pages, Young Wanderlust is a work that pays attention to the slightest of details, and if patience is not one of your virtues I would recommend preparing yourself. Nonetheless, Kenward’s first attempt is commendable and is worth taking a few days to read and find out what it takes to make the classic American road trip.

If you’re thinking about adventuring out into the world with just a backpack and the drive to see a place through the eyes of a weary traveler without the typical tourist agenda, i.e. sightseeing, hotels and rental cars, Young Wanderlust will provide inspiration for those eager to find new experiences.

Young Wanderlust can be purchased online in a variety of formats. Check out the book’s Facebook page at


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