Vagabond Boy: Memoir of a Youth's Journey Through a Heartland of Chaos

Rated 5.00/5 based on 1 reviews
A boy navigates through a chaotic childhood while traveling throughout 1950s America with his restless parents. The author's encounters with strange landscapes, curious people, and dubious caretakers dangle lessons he must choose or discard. He is swept toward an emotional chasm that threatens to swallow and imprison him forever, and he must decipher secrets in a local pond to secure his future. More

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About Joel Everett Harding

Joel Everett Harding has professional credentials in a variety of scientific fields, including river geomorphic restoration, bioengineering design, ecosystem ecology and animal and human behavior. He has been a scientist to private industry, federal, state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. When he is not writing and otherwise working he spends his time in the Piedmont with his family photographing and painting the landscape, tending his gardens and koi pond. This is his first published book.

Learn more about Joel Everett Harding


Vagabond Boy: Memoir of a Youth's Journey Through a Heartland of Chaos
Joel Everett Harding, author of the autobiography "Vagabond Boy," narrates a video trailer of his adventurous and fascinating book about traveling during his youth throughout America, where he found hilarious experiences, as well as chaos, terror and seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Find out what mysterious questions needed answering before he could unlock the secret to securing his future.


Toby Smith reviewed on Feb. 3, 2013
(no rating)
Vagabond Boy is a must read for anyone who has kids, or has ever been a kid. In other words, everyone should read this book. Mr. Harding vividly recreates the account of one boy’s roaming childhood, yet touches on universal themes in a way that resonates with everyone by bringing to life the many fears, joys, surprises and tribulations that each of us experience on the grand journey of childhood. Read this book! You’ll be glad you did.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
Jennifer Hyndman reviewed on Feb. 1, 2013

Hands down, this story has the best use of euphemism I have ever read. Flawless writing in that the thoughts the author has penned are fluid and graceful with enough detail to literally paint portraits in your mind. You will SEE what he wants you to see, and without a trace of doubt in my mind you will FEEL what he wants you to feel. What an amazing artist of words, this novel being his masterpiece. So that you understand what I mean by his poetic use of euphemism here is one paragraph. He is talking about something very deep while delving into a challenging subject and I copied that as an idea of euphemism for those who are not familiar with the term.

"Many young parents tend to start out with poorly-equipped kitchens containing only the barest essentials, often having inherited the equipment from their own parents. This can be a disadvantage for the livestock under their care but the natural motivational juices and resilience of boys and girls can sometimes compensate for these shortcomings, unless it becomes obvious that their caretakers have absolutely no business in the kitchen. In such cases the dish they produce may be unfit for even the simplest meal, let alone the grand banquet of life. Then salvaging the best that a child has to offer at the banquet to come depends upon other chefs and the inner resources of the child."

I laughed out loud and one point I cried. He is magic with words and I wish EVERY PARENT could read this. Every parent. It was captivating, moving, and my goodness I can't figure out how to leave a review good enough to entice you to take a chance and read this. One line that made me laugh out loud during a touching a sad scene about his mother was this: "...she only punished me when I needed it, like when I threw a hammer at my brother." I think I've fallen in love with this author's words. I've never read anything quite so soul-stirring.

To be at the dusk of your life and, when confronted with mortality, to comprehend that you did not truly live as you realize you should have, but as you thought you should have or were forced to terrifies me. Vagabond Boy brought me to this soul stirring epiphany. I feel like I owe this author a favor because, as I read, my very heart was somehow pulled into the journey and somehow it changed me a little. I could go on and on about why you should read it and tell you all about the wayfaring but I'd like to tell you this instead: don't discover that you have forced a way of life upon yourself or your youth because you feel that is what you need or deserve or whatnot. I say to you, live. Look. Look at the colors everywhere, hope Ali Babba doesn't attack you and reflect on how impossibly fast mothers are. Moms are like rabid animals when you make them angry but his renderings of such things are EPIC. When his mother catches him and how, you will actually enter the child's world and leave yours. Fact. AND you will laugh.

Vagabond Boy is about more than living or traveling or discovering or dying, it's about that little thing inside of your human body called a soul. This author left a piece of his life here and even the trials and pain are written in such a way that when the book is finished it will, WILL, have forever touched you.

I felt every emotion a book could reap from me; humor, sadness, worry, all of it.

I implore you to read the first free excerpt from Amazon (click on the cover) and when I say its gets even better, it does. I had more fun reading this book than I did reading Terry Goodkind's Confessor!! Just so you know, that means A LOT.

Two more excerpts so you can have a taste of how the author can bring you into a scene (this is a hospital scene):

"Our regular bedtime hour arrived, but I wasn't able to sleep after the lights were turned out. I just laid there worrying. When the nurse came in later she noticed me still awake and said she would see if she could find something to help me sleep. She came back later with a pill and made me roll over. Then I felt the pill pushed up my behind like a turd going the wrong way. I didn't like it at all and figured the nurse was new and didn't know that pills should be swallowed with water like the St. Joseph's Aspirin my mother used to give me at home. I told the nurse to ask Bea to show her how pills should be given, but she left the room without answering me. Soon I went to sleep."
(a few paragraphs later, I don't want to ruin it for you)
"My mind catapulted awake in absolute terror and I was screaming that there was no air to breathe. I knew I was dying and would absolutely be dead in the next second if I couldn't find a breath. Blackness and panic enveloped me and I started thrashing from side to side. My body bucked in the blackness, demanding a breath, and I tried with all my strength to sit up but something stronger was pressing on my face and I couldn't lift my head up even an inch. Then I felt something pushing against my chest that was preventing me from sitting up. I tried to scream again but no sound came out. My heart pounded in my ears and felt like it was about to burst as though I had stayed underwater too long and the black water was rushing in. I'd be gone in the next second and now that second was here as the terror flooded through me and I choked and gagged..."
(reviewed 18 days after purchase)

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