The West Texas Pilgrimage – A Review



by M.M. Wolthoff

Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age

Publisher: River Grove Books

Date of Publication: February 29, 2015

Number of Pages: 220

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Hunter’s friend Ty survived war in the Middle East only to succumb to cancer at home. On a quest with his college buddies and Ty’s father, Hunter journeys from South Texas into the mountains and desert of West Texas to bury his close friend. During this trek, they’ll drink, hunt, party, and encounter unexpected people and enthralling landscapes as Hunter deals with his grief, compounded by his struggle with depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder.

The West Texas Pilgrimage is a love letter to West Texas and the wild culture that defines it. Author M. M. Wolthoff vividly depicts the regional landscape, exploring intriguing stops along the way and the authentic context of music, food, and language integral to this generation of Texans, while frankly and thoughtfully addressing relationships, mourning, and mental illness, with characters as unforgettable as the region itself.


I laughed. I cried. This is a book that is real, honest and reminds all of us that life is filled with ups and downs. The only way to keep moving forward is to get real with ourselves about whom we are and accept our beauty and our pain. This young author has amazing wisdom that is so articulately shared with readers of all ages. — 5 Stars, Amazon Verified Purchase

The West Texas Pilgrimage was insightful into the mind of a privileged, pre-adult male who tries to self-medicate his OCD condition with alcohol. While reading, I felt the main character’s vulnerabilities as he struggled with his feelings regarding his career choice, the loss of a good friend to cancer, and the complications of his search for the right female life mate. The book was a quick read…only because I could not put it down! There were several “ah-ha” moments when I thought: oh my, that’s really how a pre-adult male thinks??!? I never knew!! — 5 Stars Donna J Millon

I read the first half of the book in one night; it draws you in with believable characters and real challenges they face. Could have been written about people you know or have met. It covers some tough topics but is an enjoyable read. — 5 Stars Peter Day

Really nice read. Very detailed description of so many things made me feel like I was right there with them. 2 nights to read for a non reader like me makes for a really easy and entertaining time. Thumbs up. — 5 Stars Nunya

The book brought me right back to the border towns of my youth. Step outside any bar and be hit with the smell of fajita and sewer. Glorious! — 5 Stars Amazon Verified Purchase



The West Texas Pilgrimage – A Review 

“Climbing this West Texas mountain, Make the pilgrimage, closest thing on earth to heaven. We all loved him, blessed to call him a friend. His time came too soon, but he was strong ’til the end.”

The West Texas Pilgrimage by M.M. Wolthoff recounts a weekend journey of friends saying good-bye to a dear friend through a pilgrimage to Big Bend National Park in Texas.

While the excessive drinking of the main characters might put some readers off, dealing with loss is different for everyone and the author portrayed how it was for the main character Hunter to deal with the loss of his friend, Ty. The story takes you along the way of a journey of saying good-bye on the endless roads of West Texas, including a small jaunt across the border into Mexico.

It’s a story of loss and depression and how friends deal with it from hunting to eventually hiking a fictitious peak to say their last goodbyes. Wolthoff’s book is well written, keeps the pace going fast. Good books, in my opinion, are defined by how well the story carries without bogging down a reader and Pilgrimage is that kind of story.

One interesting aspect of the book is the 20 questions noted in the Reader’s Guide which helps the reader reflect back on the book and leads them to draw some of their own conclusions. There is even an author Q&A giving insight into how the story evolved.

Readers will be left knowing that the author has a love of the West Texas and Big Bend region. It is indeed a beautiful remote area with long endless roads that lead to the most interesting places. Pilgrimage leads readers along those roads to help friends say goodbye.



Matthew Martin Wolthoff lives in McAllen, Texas, with his wife, Lucy Ann, and three children, Hunter Ann, McCoy Martin, and Kerr Dunkin. He grew up in a military family, living all over the world until finding home in South Texas, where he went to high school in San Antonio. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His parents instilled a passion for reading and writing in him early in life that grows stronger every day. An avid outdoorsman, he finds his inspiration—and peace of mind—in the shallow waters of the Lower Laguna Madre and the wilderness of the South Texas brush country. His first West Texas pilgrimage was in 2010. It was a life-changing event.





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