Vagabond Boy
A Memoir of a Youth's Journey Through a Heartland of Chaos
   
 
   
 
 
 

 

        Vagabond Boy 
 
 

 
 

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Vagabond Boy:   Memoir of a Youth's Journey through a Heartland of Chaos 

When Chaos Hitches a Ride to a Young Boy's Journey toward adulthood, What Can He Do About It?  

In Vagabond Boy Joel Everett Harding relates his experiences over the nine years he traveled across the varied landscapes of 1950s America with his parents. In this memoir they take a meandering path that leads the boy through a variety of big-horizon landscapes of the heartland, across western deserts to the emerging golden shores of California, through the logging country of Oregon and Washington, to urban San Francisco, Chicago and intriguing points in between – and back again.

Just when he escapes 800 miles away to safety he discovers that his entire life was a deception and he was never the person everyone told him he was. This startling new reality sweeps him toward the edge of an emotional chasm of discontent that threatens to swallow and imprison him forever.  He realizes he must find a hidden door to his future before he is finally thrust unprepared to face the world as an adult, where the only road remaining open points towards a wasted life ahead.

Throughout the book the author writes from the perspective of a young boy, and at times as adult narrator when contemplating the broader meanings of his early experiences as seen through the maturing lens of self-reflection in middle-age.

 This work is the antithesis of a lament about adversity or victimization, or a preachy self-help guide. Instead, Vagabond Boy offers much more take-away value for the reader. Without an ounce of self-pity the author presents a true adventure story of resilience and tenacity that demonstrates childhood difficulties need not necessarily lead to feelings of alienation in adulthood. How a young boy found the tools for achieving a sense of identity and a satisfying life as a man is an inspirational and compelling expedition in self-discovery. But more, it transcends the author’s experiences in its offer of hope to others with parallel childhoods. Such self-determination is not taught in schools but is sought by many who struggle with their past in an ambiguous and fragmented culture - precisely where most of us live today.

 

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