Wednesday I had the privilege of listening to Rye Barcott – author of It Happened on The Way To War – speak for my college. I also got to speak to him individually. Of course, me being the person I am, blundered my questions. That’s not to say I stuttered, but once I was in front of him the actual questions I had fleeted far away from the sensible part of my mind, and instead I asked him other – not nearly as awesome things. At least I had the chance to meet the guy. Phenomenal book, though in my opinion a bit dry in places – but still worth reading. I don’t even like memoirs, but I think one of Rye’s greatest attributes – one of his best traits as an author – is his capability to make the readers care about what happens to the characters in his novel. Even if the story itself isn’t something you’re interested in – which to be honest, it’s not my kind of read – there’s no doubt of being utterly sucked in from the first chapter. You want to know what happened to these remarkable people.
It Happened On The Way To War is considered in the memoir genre, but in reality it’s Rye’s perspective of what happened over the six years of his life. It’s how he dealt with two very different worlds – one of war, one of peace. Dual culture shock. It’s how he spent twenty six dollars that wound up changing the lives of so many, and how being a Marine, he still wanted to taste the action of war – even if it wasn’t something he necessarily agreed with. It’s fascinating to delve into the culture and see how such small things can change the world for the better. Twenty six dollars, that’s how it started, but it grew into so much more.
Carolina for Kibera (CFK) is a non profit organization Rye started when he was still in college. It’s to help empower youths in Kibera, hopefully giving them a better future. They work with sports, healthcare, education, community clean up and more. In the words of CFK as stated on their website:
“Carolina for Kibera (CFK) exists to develop local leaders, catalyze positive change and alleviate poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.”
You can visit CFK’s official website to learn more about this empowering and inspiring organization that is working to change the world here. http://cfk.unc.edu/
Rye himself is an inspirational person. He was down to earth, taking the time to encourage and promote students dreams, hand out some personalized cards to a few, and speak with every single person in line who was waiting to have their book signed. I haven’t met many authors in person. I’ve never had the luxury of being able to afford to go to writing conferences or lucky enough to have authors that I enjoy come to my area for a book signing. It’s amazing because, as much as I liked the book – even though I don’t like memoirs – listening to Rye speak, and having a few brief moments to speak with him one on one, made me like it so much more because I actually got to meet one of the characters in the book. There are a few things that Rye spoke about that stuck with me, and I’d like to share them. I wish I had been recording the session so I could quote him verbatim, but hopefully I’ll keep it true to the man himself.
“Talent is universal, opportunity is not.”
“The story is not about me. It’s my perception of the events that took place. The story is meant to be presented to and inspire others.”
“Make it personal so that the readers will feel the emotion.
– Rye Barcott
Rye is truly a great guy, a mentor for many, and an inspiration for more. I give It Happened On The Way To War four stars. I’m nixing one because there were a few areas I feel dragged out a bit and would have had more impact were they shortened. Even if you don’t like memoir’s (which Rye hates them and doesn’t like calling the book that) picking up this book will give you a glimpse into a world you may not have known existed and inspire you to make changes in your own way.