After reading the first few chapters of A Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne (a country western musician) I didn’t know if I wanted to keep reading. These chapters chronicle Jimmy’s early life and contain graphic descriptions of a man getting axed and sexual exploits of his mother. However, I kept reading since I was going to review this book. I am glad I did.
The rest of the book deals with Jimmy’s poor home life and how he manages to become successful in spite of it. Jimmy’s mother was bi-polar and shuffled him around to his grandfather’s house and back to hers. His mother had many husbands and live-in boyfriends. Most of these men treated Jimmy poorly and were horrible role models. Many times Jimmy and his sister were hungry, sometimes only getting food at school.
After being abandoned again (several times by his mother) Jimmy ends up in foster care. In the first foster care environment he is not treated kindly. In another he fares better but isn’t allowed to stay there very long. After fending for himself as a child and teen a friendly elderly couple finally take him under their wing.
Jimmy flourishes in this loving home. He is able to allow his love of music to grow and eventually joins a band. This gives him a taste of what show business is like. He eventually makes his way to Nashville to become a songwriter and singer. He experiences success to the point of opening for Brad Paisley at Madison Square Garden.
The last part of the book focuses on Jimmy’s “Walk to Beautiful”. He decides to walk from Nashville to Arizona to spread the word about foster care. He has many people support him on his walk. They offer him food, shelter and companionship. It took Jimmy 213 days to make the walk. Because of his walk and the attention it drew, laws dealing with foster care in many states were changed for the better.
This turned out to be a very inspirational read. I was impressed by Jimmy’s grit as a child and his spirit as an adult. If you need a story to give you a lift, this will do it!