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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Barefoot: A Surfer's View of the Universe by Andrew Pacholyk is a non-fiction inspirational memoir in which the author details his life through the lens of a man who spends as much time riding the waves as he possibly can. Part self-help and part autobiography, Pacholyk shifts between what he's experienced and what he knows in ways that can be broadly applied to a reader's daily life and outlook regardless of whether or not they've ever set foot on a longboard. Much of what Pacholyk conveys is through dialogue he's had with others. I took so many notes because there were absolutely loads of quotable quotes. The people the author is in contact with and the situations that arise are ones most readers can relate to, such as meeting someone down the road who was not a positive force in your younger, more fragile years. Most won't end up dating a family member, but Pacholyk takes it in measured stride, riding the highs and lows of life with the skill of a seasoned surfer. “If you ponder the questions of the Universe and beyond, just stop and take a good look around you. You just might see the answers."
My wife grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent a great deal of time on a surfboard, which was honed under the more comfortable waves of Hawaii where she spent much of her summer. The lifestyle is fascinating to me. I didn't even learn how to swim until I was in my 30s and so the idea of someone on a wobbly epoxy plank in the middle of the ocean was inconceivable. There's a culture to surfing and Barefoot by Andrew Pacholyk takes a deep dive into it without resorting to clichés and he narrates in a voice that is distinctly his own. We all have our stories and Pacholyk's is well written, engaging, and without the self-indulgence many other similar life-lesson books have. Pacholyk also integrates his experiences as a respected player in the performing arts. There is a scene where he is offered a coveted spot and his first-ever role, which happened to be on Broadway, and his girlfriend was incapable of being thrilled for him. Still, the voice of an almost omniscient Big Steena speaks out to him and reassures him, “It’s our moments of struggle that define us...” Indeed they are. Very highly recommended.