Where Are They Now? Mike Pentecost, author
Jane Donahue firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2012 7:12PM
Author Mike Pentecost, a 1990 graduate of Naperville North High School, chronicles s monthlong journey in his debut book “Bus People: 30 Days on the Road with America’s Nomads.” | Submitted
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“Bus People: 30 Days on the Road with America’s Nomads,” by Naperville North High School graduate Mike Pentecost is available through
It is available in paperback ($15) and Kindle ($9.99) formats.
Updated: September 20, 2012 10:02AM
It was a trip of a lifetime for author Mike Pentecost, albeit on a Greyhound bus. The 1990 graduate of Naperville North High School chronicles the journey in his debut book “Bus People: 30 Days on the Road with America’s Nomads,” taking readers on board the monthlong adventure.
“I am proud of many things about the book, but in particular, I feel like I was able to give a voice to a section of society that is often marginalized,” said Pentecost, who lives in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s a book that is full of stories. Some are hilarious, some are depressing, some are profane, but the book sought to provide some connection between the bus people and the reader.”
Pentecost, 40, said he was an awkward teenager when he moved to Naperville in 1985 and attended Jefferson Junior High. It was there that teacher Pat Real encouraged his passion for writing.
“It was a tough transition and to be the new kid was difficult,” he said. “But I remember vividly my English teacher Pat Real making me feel welcomed.”
During a creative writing exercise, the teacher had Pentecost share his work with the class.
“It was the first time I had really put myself out there,” he said. “She not only complimented me, but pulled me aside and told me that I had a real gift for writing. Her belief in me caused me to believe in myself, and I enjoyed creative writing from that time on.”
While Real inspired him to keep writing, a college road trip inspired him to pen his first book. In the early ’90s, Pentecost took a Greyhound trip while a student at the University of Kentucky.
“What was normally a seven-hour car ride took 19 hours by bus,” he said. “I met carnival workers, Amish people, a guy getting out of prison and the town drunk. That bus trip stayed in my mind for the next two decades.”
When he made a career change in 2010, the aspiring writer decided to use the gap in employment to pursue his dream. With the support of his wife, Erica, and two sons, Pentecost purchased a 30-day “Discovery Pass” for $439 and boarded a bus in Nashville.
The pass allowed him to travel wherever he wanted, and with no itinerary, the adventure began. Basically doing a “giant loop around the country,” he encountered a diverse cast of characters and cities, which provided plenty of material for his book.
“The truth of the matter is that folks who ride the bus are just like everyone else,” he said. “They have family issues. They battle addiction. They are searching for purpose in their lives. They just don’t have the resources to address their problems in the same way that people with means can.”
Pentecost works as an account executive for a company that designs trade show exhibits and has plans for future books.
“I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m really excited about, but I’m going to need a book deal first,” he said. “I know that day will come. It’s gotten strong reviews online and from newspapers all over the country.”
She might not be reviewing “Bus People,” but former teacher Pat Real is reading it. She said last month she was honored to receive a copy of the book signed by her former student.
“I was absolutely shocked when I saw his name on the book,” said Real, 78, who lives in Naperville. “There was a note inside with his business card, so I immediately called him. I felt really honored to learn I had made a connection with a kid in the eighth grade. You don’t make a whole lot of connections, so when you do, it is amazing.”
Columnist Jane Donahue is looking for graduates of Naperville schools who have made Naperville proud. To offer candidates, e-mail her at email@example.com