Homeless By Choice: Background information when reading The Drifter

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Drifter

by Nicholas Petrie

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie X
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2016, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Homeless By Choice

This article relates to The Drifter

Print Review

U.S. Marine veteran Peter Ash in The Drifter is homeless – well, houseless. By choice. While he has little money he is not a vagrant. He has skills and does odd jobs. Outdoor jobs. Because Peter is incapable of staying indoors for any amount of time. This incapacity is a consequence of his military tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan where his job required him to search buildings, homes, small outbuildings. These searches often resulted in terrifyingly dangerous encounters where lives – both friendly and foreign – were lost. Now just entering a building, any structure, causes swift and merciless panic attacks.

Peter is a kind of homeless that doesn't fit the mold. He's smart, strong, self-sufficient and financially resourceful enough to suit his current needs. It turns out there are others who, for one reason or another, are also unsuited to living under a roof. Some, like Peter Ash, may have suffered severe trauma and are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Others may have a mental illness that society has been unable to help. They are likely not a danger to anyone, but their mental health issues keep others at arm's length. Still others simply like the freedom of the open air, the call of the open road. They may have come to these straights as a result of falling through the cracks after an economic downturn – it doesn't take much these days. Or they may have just decided one day to chuck it all, sell the lot and move into a motor home or caravan, checking into civilization only rarely when needs arise.

Daniel SueloDaniel Suelo, subject of a book (The Man Who Quit Money) and a feature story in The Atlantic, both by Mark Sundeen, lives in the canyons of a Utah mountain range and spends time in the canyons surrounding Sedona, Arizona. A fascinating person, in 2000 he decided to give up money and live a life of service to the planet that outstrips whatever damage his existence causes. That is, his carbon footprint is estimated at one-half of one percent that of the average American. He shops discarded food bins outside restaurants and grocers, forages for wild berries and spear fishes salmon. He walks everywhere he needs to go and accepts no government or charitable handouts. Typical of this type of homeless culture, Suelo trusts face-to-face interaction with individuals over any type of institution.

Randy Angel McKinneyRandy Angel McKinney calls himself a "traveler." He lives by his wits on the highways and railroad tracks all across the United States. Carrying his worldly goods on his back he moves from place to place selling his artwork and enjoying the camaraderie of friends he has made over his 20+ years on the road.

Matt CookTo Madison, Wisconsin's Matt Cook, who has a good job as a computer programmer, living out of his van is an experiment. For this young man – 28 years old in November 2013 – "It's about figuring out what matters to me in life. I know that it's not the things I own. If they don't matter, why do I even have them? Why do I bother?"

Tim GionfriddoAnd finally, there is Psychology Today blogger Paul Gionfriddo's son Tim who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In an incredibly moving essay, Paul explains that adult Tim is homeless by choice – but not his own choice. As a youngster, before Tim was diagnosed, when he would act out in school, the response was always to separate him from the class. Paul says, "Removing children [like Tim] from the mainstream…is a choice we make, not them. And we do the same thing with adults." As an adult male, Tim is more likely to be incarcerated than treated in a mental health facility because there is more public money for prisons than for mental health facilities. Then when the mentally ill – who have never broken the law per se – are released, they cannot get proper housing because of their "criminal" record. It is a heartrending story all too common in many families.

Daniel Suelo, courtesy of wikipedia
Randy Angel McKinney, courtesy of pelhuaz.blogspot.com
Matt Cook, courtesy of bc15.com
Tim Gianfriddo, courtesy of pgionfriddo.blogspot.com

Article by Donna Chavez

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Drifter. It originally ran in March 2016 and has been updated for the August 2016 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Kinship of Secrets
    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim
    Of our 20 First Impressions readers who submitted reviews for The Kinship of Secrets, all rated it ...
  • Book Jacket: Empire of Sand
    Empire of Sand
    by Tasha Suri
    Tasha Suri's debut novel, Empire of Sand, reads like something out of 1001 Arabian Nights, both ...
  • Book Jacket: In Byron's Wake
    In Byron's Wake
    by Miranda Seymour
    It's tempting to think that our age of celebrity worship coupled with the 24-hour news cycle is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Latecomers
    The Latecomers
    by Helen Klein Ross
    The Latecomers is the third novel written by acclaimed author Helen Klein Ross, following What Was ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

As atmospheric, tense, and explosive as her New York Times bestselling debut, The Dry!

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Golden Child
    by Claire Adam

    A deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win To Lay To Rest Our Ghosts

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts

"Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov."
- Savvy Verse & Wit

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Everything I H-D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.