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Kevin’s Last Walk is an emotional and honest story about a man dealing with the loss of his son. Barry was proud of his son for graduating high school and wanting to become independent by moving out of his home. He had never expected that Kevin wouldn’t heed his warnings to be careful and to make smart decisions. Barry over time began accepting the fact that one bad decision led to his son’s death. He wanted to prevent others from making the same decision. It took Barry months to decide to speak in front of students and to spread his story but he wanted other young people to be aware of the consequences of their actions. Barry wanted to do his “something very good” whatever that may be. After deciding that he wanted to bury Kevin’s ashes in Montana, the idea of placing them in his backpack and walking there was one that no one could deter him from. He eventually found a sponsor with notMYkid,an organization that inspires and empowers youth, started mapping out routes and scheduling stops to speak at along the way which included interviews with local TV stations. His journey would begin days before his son’s birthday in February of 2007 and end days before his son’s death in July 2007.
Barry Adkins didn’t hold back in expressing himself in this non-fiction account of life after losing his son. Kevin’s Last Walk was full of reflection, hope, faith and inspiration. Barry included poems he wrote after his son’s death, correspondences from people regarding the effect Kevin’s story had on their life and journal entries from his time on the road. It was a testament to his strength, that he was able to openly and honestly reflect on his own parenting, things he could have done differently and the decision making of his son. Barry advocated education and awareness when dealing with alcohol and setting an example as a parent. Barry wasn’t looking to blame anyone and he wasn’t sure what his “something very good” may be but he wanted to make a difference.
Adkins approach to writing this novel wasn’t what I expected but I appreciated the journal entries and poetry included. The journal entries put in perspective the struggle of taking such a long journey on foot. The poetry was a great way for him to express his emotions at different times. In my opinion, Adkins could have improved the novel by including more information about his family and those directly affected by Kevin’s death. Vague information was provided initially but I would have liked more information about relationships he had outside of his relationship with Barry. I would have also liked information regarding Kevin’s faith and relationship with God. Barry’s faith and belief was a huge part of this novel and I’m simply curious if that is reflective of Kevin’s relationship as well.
Overall I enjoyed Kevin’s Last Walk. Barry’s writing style was simple but honest and direct in an effort to tell his story. I give this novel 3 out of 4 stars. I applaud Barry for wanting to spread this story and all of his efforts to make a difference spreading awareness especially in schools about alcohol.
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