“In the late spring of 2008, suddenly devoid of my job, my long-term girlfriend, and quite possibly my faith in humanity, I took to the road as a form of self-prescribed therapy.
Equipped only with what I could fit in the back of my small SUV, I made my way across 3,800 miles of the beautiful West and Pacific Northwest, sleeping mostly in my truck, fly fishing, and communing with both nature and locals alike. My trials along the way ranged from such trivial things as cavorting with small-town girls and figuring out where my next shower would come from, to the much more profound issues of dealing with lost love and coming to terms with the fact that sooner or later, like it or not, I was going to have to "grow up."”
With a description like that I fully expected to find myself engrossed in the coming-of-age story of Regan Kline as he embarked on a trip of self-discovery throughout western America. I anticipated spending hours upon hours reading about his adventures; however, if I had spent the time to pay a little bit of attention to the details beyond the description I would have realized my expectations were too high. The book is a mere 137 pages long; certainly not long enough to spend hours upon hours living vicariously through a young man off on an American adventure. After losing his job Regan takes off a 3-week adventure and yet only manages to write 137 pages? He mentions his adventures and there are details about some of them but there wasn’t enough to truly make me feel invested in his story. Emotionally, I felt abandoned while reading about Regan’s journey. It was as though we was recounting his exploration of western America but always stopping just short of fully connecting and engaging the reader. I continually felt just the slightest bit disappointed that he didn’t tell me just a little bit more.
There is a passage on the back cover of the book that sums it up best. The text says:
“Many have lamented about how we lose this child-like sense of wonderment and urge to explore. I have a different theory. I believe it never goes away. Rather that we, as “responsible adults”, choose to ignore it.”
I feel like Regan chose to ignore the wonderment and details of his journey. Perhaps it wasn’t deliberate, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t deliberate, but it happened nonetheless. Initially I was really cheering for Regan. I wanted to read about this young man setting off into the unknown and finding his purpose. I was fully invested but I was always left just slightly disappointed.
In the end, Regan lives his adventure, builds incredible memories, and connects with the world “off the grid” in ways that many of us can’t imagine. He is an admirable man for breaking away and having the courage to experience life in a way that so many of us can only find between the covers of a book. On the last page of the book, page 138, “About the Author” Regan mentions that this is his first foray into traditional publishing and hopes to publish additional books. I hope he pursues his writing. I do believe he could be a successful author. My only hope is that he embraces the details and his inner child-like urge to explore the details. “Life Behind” was a pleasurable read, albeit too short, and I would recommend it for a quick story. Regan’s adventures were enviable. I can only hope that, if faced with similar circumstances, we all would show the same courage and bravery.