Julie Evans’s “Joy Road”
Julie Evans’s Joy Road is a fast paced, thrill-ride. After losing both parents and marrying a heroin addict at the age of seventeen, Evans begins a whirlwind journey that leads her into the transformation of womanhood. She covers a lot of ground in exciting locales like Key West, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Evan’s gives us a glimpse into the 70s gypsy lifestyle of sex, alcohol, and cocaine. While this lifestyle was made popular at the time by Jimmy Buffett, Shel Silverstein, Richard Brautigan, and Thomas McGuane, it is interesting to see that era portrayed by Evans forties years later and doing so with adult eyes and from a distance of memory instead of while it is happening. This distance has given her time to process the events and approach her subject of drug use and recovery through mature and experienced eyes instead of reveling in the debauchery. The chapters that were set in Key West are beautifully written and engrossing. I’m curious has to how this would’ve worked if it was story just about the author’s time here because the characters were so well-developed.
MORE ABOUT JULIE EVANS: http://www.wordsbyjulieevans.com/
The writing is solid and descriptive and at times I wanted the scenes to slow down. Just as Evans was inviting the reader into the mysticism and magic that surrounded her journey we were whisked away to the next destination. As a reader, I wanted to be immersed in it. The cast of characters that we are introduced to are unique. So much so that I would forget this was a memoir. It read very much like a piece of fiction. Some sections even verged on the brink of Sci-fi. Yet, Evans doesn’t falter in her storytelling. The world is chaotic and unpredictable and messy and her experiences don’t attempt to explain them in some epistemological manner, but allows the experiences to happen and lets the reader do the work. Evans knows how rewarding it is to do the work. It’s like the old saying, commonly attributed to Robert Frost, “the only way out is through.” And the journey through is dark and scary and unforgiving, yet when one makes it to the other side, the result is peace. Evans is a talented writer and I applaud her vulnerability and honesty. I just wonder if she tried to do too much in one book. The final chapters about quitting smoking seem to be more of an addendum as opposed to adding to the story.
Great job showing the world of the traveling 70s that are often told through the eyes of males. Four out of five stars for Julie Evans’s Joy Road.
Julie Evans now works as a massage therapist and healer in Woodstock, NY and it seems as if her journey to Joy Road has led her to use what she has learned on the way to help others who are on their own paths to enlightenment.