Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road: In my opinion, Donald Miller is a less than stand out writer, and when I read his books, I generally have the urge to edit them. That said, he understands post-modern culture. His honest pursuit of faith and his insights into life are enough to make me put away my red pen.
This milder than Kerouac-esque road trip was Miller’s first book and chronicles an earlier time in the author’s life when he and a guy named Paul decided to take a 1971 Volkswagen van on a journey across the western United States. When Miller and his companion start out in Houston they are practically strangers, both heading out on their journey with a strong dose of aimlessness and wanderlust.
Miller is looking to get away from religion, convention and the past, but as he does so, he encounters God in a new way through conversations and the scenery of America. Through Painted Deserts is definitely the quintessential All-American road trip: finding yourself in the open country, often because your ancient, beat up VW has left you with your thumb out on the side of the road.
When such moments as this happen Through Painted Deserts, Miller never takes himself too seriously. In fact, the book often showcases some rather stupid moments with the traveling buddies. One scene finds the pair hiking through the Grand Canyon with no gear in one of the funniest parts of the book. Along the way Miller and Paul meet a few of the many unusual characters who make up America.
These encounters along with the deepening friendship of the two travelers open opportunities to engage in subjects that strike at the core of human existence: questions of faith and life and why. Through Painted Deserts will leave you with a want to hit the road and search for your own truths.
Donald Miller, who often speaks across the United States, reads his own work in the audio version. He is a great narrator and Through Painted Deserts’ conversational tone is better listened to than it is read. The wanderlust of Miller’s personal and physical journey is felt in every sentence.