Hitchhiking to Los Angeles with only five dollars in your pocket sounds like something from the era of free love and peace signs. Surely it doesn’t fit in with the speed of our high-tech modern life, right? Leon Logothetis believes that it does. In Amazing Adventures of a Nobody: A life changing journey across America relying on the kindness of strangers (Bettie Youngs Books, 2011), Logothetis quits his comfortable desk job at his father’s company and leaves his native Britain in search of connection. Disillusioned by the isolation of modern life, he crafts a challenge for himself: travel from New York City to Los Angeles on five dollars a day plus the generosity of those he meets along the way. He won’t take gifts of cash, only food, lodging, and transportation. He discovers that the spirit of giving and compassion is alive and well and others are yearning just as much as he is for real human contact and interaction.
In each of the thirteen chapters, Logothetis tells of a single day's journey. He gets off to a slow start, but a couple he meets at the train station gives him an invaluable piece of advice; he has to sell himself with a good story. For people to stop and listen, he needs to make himself seen in a world where we actively cultivate invisibility. Luckily for Logothetis, spinning a good yarn is something that he does exceedingly well. As he travels from place to place, his story grows to include the characters he meets along the way. Their life stories are woven together with his, which, along with his reflections on the lessons that he is learning, create an inspiring narrative.
A cynic might claim that there are several extenuating circumstances that might make people more likely to help Logothetis (he is being accompanied by a film crew, his British accent, the fact that he is young and attractive), but he shares with us his successes and his failures and it was not necessarily an easy road that he traveled. His story is compelling because it captures the essence of what so many of us yearn for: to be understood, to receive help when we need it, and to be heard. As we look to a future where we will need to look more and more to our neighbors for support, it's reassuring that a spirit of community still exists within us, even if it is just beneath the surface.
This review was first published on Blogcritics.
My review copy was provided courtesy of Bettie Youngs Books.