Review: Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt

Jen Bradbury
Dec 12 · 5 min read

Packing Light

As someone who both loves to travel and to write, I was excited to read Allison Vesterfelt's Packing Light: Thoughts on living life with less baggage.

Despite taking me a while to get into, I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book. In it, Allison chronicles the lessons she learns from a cross-country road trip with a friend.

Packing Light explores several dominant themes including relationships, identity, and vocation. For Allison, identity and vocation are intimately woven together. Insights about one inevitably yield insights about another. Both are tied to her quest to become a writer. As someone who published her first book this year, I saw myself in many of Allison's yearnings and insights. She articulates the kind of writer I want to be: One “who is awake to the realities of heaven, but engaged in the realities of the world”. She also acknowledges the difficulties that come with being a “Christian” writer.

As someone who lives and works in a decidedly upper-middle class community obsessed with success, her advice about finding your vocation is one that I will, no doubt, pass onto the high school youth I work with in hopes of balancing the advice they hear from others. “In case you're wondering what to do with your life, this is it. First, you start with something you love... When we become who we were made to be, we come alive, but the people around us come alive too.”

Throughout the book, as Allison wrestles with what it means to pack light and to leave your baggage behind, the places where she shines brightest is in talking about fear. In one instance, she discusses the story of the rich young ruler, suggesting that it is, perhaps, “more about fear than anything.” She concludes, “What if the things we feel most attached to are the things standing between us and heaven? Not 'heaven' as in the place we go when we die, but heaven as in the tangible perception of God's peace, love, and mercy, breaking into our reality and our lives right now.”

Because of it's themes, Packing Light is particularly appropriate for college students and those trying to discern or understand their calling. To that end, I'd wholeheartedly recommend this book for campus ministry small groups. That said, since Allison's book is highly relatable and the themes in it universal, I honestly think it'd be a worthwhile and enjoyable read for most people. After all, I'm a 30-something firmly convinced I'm doing what God has called me to do and I still thoroughly enjoyed Packing Light.