The Average American

My life is pretty average, I’d say. I don’t think there’s all that much about me that’s out of the ordinary. I live my life like the Average American Citizen, going to work, doing my job, going to church, spending time with friends and family. Sure, sometimes I wish there was something a bit more spectacular about my life, that I had certain talents or skills that made me stand out a little more, but, in general, I’m okay with being Kari the librarian who lives in a small town in the South.

Maybe that’s why the concept of Kevin O’Keefe’s new book, The Average American, caught my attention. In it, he sets out on a quest to find the most average person in America. He decides to let the criteria be formed by people who help him along the way. What’s so interesting is that, in the end, his journey takes him back to his home state, to a community very close to where he grew up. In fact, the man who meets all the criteria is someone who worked at his high school.

I expected to enjoy the statistics part of the book, but what I hadn’t expected was for the book to be so much about Kevin’s personal journey. When the book begins, he doesn’t really value the concept of the Average American, but as he meets good, hardworking people who embrace the title, his opinion shifts. And, by the end, when he ends up being drawn back to the place he grew up, he has a whole new appreciation for the kind of person the Average American is. The image that comes to mind when we think of the Average American is often a mindless, overweight slob on a couch, but his research showed him that’s just not true. The Average American is actually a thoughtful, dedicated individual – it’s just that he or she is probably not an overachiever, like Kevin trained himself to be. I enjoyed reading about Kevin following the signs and softening his views as he came to value the kinds of people you find all over the country. Even though I consider most of my friends and family to be Average right along with me, it gave me new appreciation for who they are and the kind of work they do, the things they value, the hobbies they have. The book closed with Kevin realizing how much of an honor it was for him to spend time with the Average American, and I’ll admit it got me a little choked up. I think it would have been easy for him to write the book without sharing as much of his personal journey, but I’m glad he didn’t take that route.

As far as the statistics go, I enjoyed seeing where I fit in compared to the Average American. Some day, I might fit some of the characteristics, like, say, having lived in my house for at least five years, but the truth is that I will always be too short to be considered Average. hehe.

Good book. I give it a thumbs up.

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