Rebecca R. (Las Vegas, NV)
A Man's Version of
As someone who loves adventure travel and enjoys unique, supposedly un-glamorous destinations, I enjoyed reading this book. The first person male narrator's search for fulfillment and a meaningful life will be particularly relevant to anyone reaching the big four-oh birthday (and older) who has also lost a parent. That sudden feeling of being the oldest generation in one's family, the feeling that options might be tightening, etc. are of concern to a huge generation of baby boomers. For those reasons, the book struck me - somewhat- as a male version of "Eat, Pray,Love."
That said, I did not enjoy this book as much as I did Gilbert's self-searching travelogue. Before I comment further on that, let me first say that the strong points are the humorous anecdotes, the wide variety of countries visited, and the refreshing honesty about political situations as well as about being a volunteer in places where a Westerner is a rarity. I have experienced that same gut wrenching feeling on the last day in remote locations. In fact, this might be a good book for other volunteer-tourists to read. The country chapters make it easy to recommend that someone focus on just a particular country. The aspect of the book that bothered me and made me hesitate about the rating (good v. average) was the narrator's repetitive obsession with not having a child. The return to this regret was like watching a movie over streaming video and having it stop at the same point several times or an old-fashioned experience of a vinyl record with a scratch that causes a word to repeat over and over. Irritating! I found myself thinking, "For Pete's sake. If he is THAT upset then how on earth does his marriage work?" Get divorced and find a partner that wants this one same goal. How could this couple have not discussed this major issue more thoroughly a long time ago? It made me wonder if the harmonious ending to this life issue will be lasting.