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Walk to Beautiful

 

The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way
By: Jimmy Wayne and Ken Abraham
ISBN:  9780849922107
Publisher  Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 10/7/2014
Format:  Hardcover 
My Rating:  5 Stars
 
Imagine being thirteen, in a strange city, hundreds of miles away from home, and your mom abandons you at a bus station, driving off into the night with her lover. It's a miracle Jimmy Wayne survived his growing-up years.
 
Hungry, homeless, and bouncing in and out of the foster care system, Jimmy spent more nights wandering and sleeping in the streets than he cares to remember. His father left before he was born. And his mama, when she wasn't in a mental hospital or behind bars for various small offenses, was simply too overwhelmed, trying to survive herself.
 
Walk to Beautiful is the powerfully emotive account of Jimmy's childhood and the unconditional love and acceptance Russell and Bea Costner gave to Jimmy. This elderly couple provided a stable home and the chance for him to complete his education. Jimmy says of Bea, "She changed every cell in my body." After his high school graduation, Jimmy went on to earn a degree in Criminal Justice because, as he says, "I knew a lot about it." But in his heart Jimmy wanted to write songs and sing.
 
A music company opened its doors to Jimmy, and he moved to Nashville to pursue his dreams. He had several memorable hits, such as I Love You This Much, Paper Angels, and Do You Believe Me Now?, which remained at #1 for three consecutive weeks on the Billboard Chart.
 
But success was not satisfying. Jimmy remembered where he came from, and he wanted to give back. With his Meet Me Halfway campaign—a 1,700 mile walk from Nashville to Phoenix—Jimmy walked halfway across America, raising awareness for foster children. Along the way he not only found a lot of crazy things, such as coins, keys, a plastic Jesus, and a Lucille Ball ashtray; but he also found himself. And more important, he found a way to forgive the people who had hurt him. Jimmy learned how to walk to beautiful—and so can you.
 
 

My Review

 
 
A special thank you to Thomas Nelson, W Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  
 
Walk to Beautiful, The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way is a poignant and inspiring account of Jimmy Wayne’s journey, written by Jimmy Wayne and Ken Abraham—one which will forever change your life!
 
Jimmy Wayne is known for his altruistic and giving heart. In the country music industry he is known for his song writing, and hit songs, while being supported by his many fans, worldwide. 
 
However, readers may not be aware of the horrific childhood and challenges on his way to stardom and adulthood. This is like “Job”; one hurdle, obstacle, disappointment, and challenge after another, and yet Jimmy possessed the drive, talent, determination, and tenacity, even in his darkest moments; to overcome his troubled past. He was fortunate to have some people along the way who took a chance on this remarkable young man, and he desires to give back and pay forward. 
 
I will be honest, I am not a country music fan (even though my sister who resides in NC is an avid fan). A great deal of Jimmy’s childhood took place in Gastonia, NC area, with some of the crazy people and backward views.
 
Wow, I had no idea the power and impact of this beautifully written and extraordinary book. The more I read, the more intrigued, I became and began reviewing Jimmy Wayne’s website, and listened to all the videos and was highly impressed.
 
Walk to Beautiful portrays the story of how Wayne was able to rise above his background with the help of supportive, adoptive parents as a teen, and become a successful country singer and in-demand motivational speaker.
 
The book takes you from Jimmy’s early years as a boy, left many times on the street alone by his mother, bullied by his peers, to fend for himself; growing up being passed from one foster home to another, with neglect and abuse, tortured, with no food or place to live, or sleep. However, one woman and man took him in, and taught him about love, music and living. 
 
When you look at this highly talented musician, good-looking guy, today, and listen to his beautiful words and songs, it is hard to believe the rough road he has traveled. Through his determination, he has not let his past define him, nor his future; however, has used his humble and troubled past to help others going through similar experiences. 
 
Jimmy has dedicated the book, his life story to Bea, a wonderful 75-year old woman who took him in when he was 16 years old, after a voice told him to stop and see if she needed help with her yard work. Bea and Russell later asked him to move in, and were instrumental in turning Jimmy’s life around. Bea who passed always in 1997, will always be in his heart, and now Jimmy is giving back to the community to help other foster children, who have nowhere to turn.
 
From 2010 when Jimmy walked from Nashville to Phoenix on his Meet Me Halfway campaign, he set out to raise awareness for foster youth who have aged out of the system. The walk in itself helped stem the idea to document certain thoughts and memories, which led to the birth of  Walk to Beautiful.
 
“Thirty Thousand kids every year age out of the foster care system the moment they turn eighteen. Many of them will become homeless, addicted, or imprisoned. Some will never see their twenty-first birthdays. I knew I wanted to help those kids the way somebody had helped me. But how?”
 
Walk to Beautiful is an inspiring and remarkable book. It does not read like a non-fiction, or memoir. As an avid reader of over 350 books a year, a professional reader and blogger—Trust me, this is a story you cannot put down! It is so shocking, you feel as though this has to be fiction. How could any one person survive this life? 
 
On a Personal Note: I formerly served as a Board Member for an organization in Atlanta for at risk teens, YES Atlanta (Youth Experiencing Success) and commend adults who strive to help these youth, by providing positive role models, and resources in order to change their environment, with an opportunity to lead healthy and rich lives as an adults.
 
Even though the book will bring you to tears, there are many parts which are witty and humorous. I especially loved the parts about growing up in the south. He had such bad role models when it came to Christianity, with the distorted views of church, beliefs, and hypocrisy. It was refreshing to learn he did not lose his faith, through all of this, when he finally got to see firsthand from Bea what faith and love really means.
 
 
I highly recommend this beautifully written and inspiring book, and well deserving of 5 stars. It will change you. Nashville, and country music fans will love all the stars, names, mentions, and tidbits. Foster children and troubled youth, will find hope and joy in these words, for the future. 
 
Congrats, Jimmy, thank you for putting yourself out there, with courage and bravery to tell your story, and relive your past, forgive those who turned their back on you, and share with others while making a difference in lives across the world.
 
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