Walking with Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain

Grand Central. May 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781538709207. $28. MEMOIR
Twenty-five years after actor-turned-writer McCarthy (Brat: An ’80s Story) trekked 500 miles across Spain’s Camino de Santiago, he returned with his 19-year-old son, Sam, who is also an actor. The author wanted to tackle the Camino again, find common ground, and forge an adult relationship with his son. McCarthy shares exquisite details of their surroundings, providing historical context as they leave France’s Pyrenees, journey through Spain’s Basque Country, cross the areas of Pamplona, La Rioja, Leon, and Galicia, and end in Iberia a month later. Along the way, they face weather extremes, blisters, the love triangles of fellow pilgrims, and McCarthy’s own fears of being exposed to his son as deficient in his abilities and knowledge. The process of the two connecting over time is heartwarming and relatable. During that time together, Sam navigates his first breakup, struggles with waking up in the mornings, and expresses curiosity about his parents’ divorce after many years. McCarthy often finds the humor in their interactions, and their freeform discussions range from Spanish history to confirmation bias and Sam’s disappointment in an educational system that rejected him.
VERDICT A sweet gem of a tale that will appeal to McCarthy fans and those who appreciate a challenging journey.
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