Friday, March 27, 2015

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

"Floating there I held onto faith. Because you can't know who might cross your path or who will take your breath away. You can't know what friends might actually become sisters because they stayed by your side. You can't know when there'll be an unexpected detour that'll take you to the place where you were always meant to be."
-- Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, Amanda Pressner, The Lost Girls


Genre: Non-Fiction Travel Memoir
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 542
Publication Date: May 11th, 2010
Source: Bought
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Goodreads Description

Jen, Holly, and Amanda are at a crossroads. They're feeling the pressure to hit certain milestones—scoring a big promotion, finding a soul mate, having 2.2 kids—before they reach their early thirties. When personal challenges force them to reevaluate their lives, they decide it's now or never to do something daring. Unable to gain perspective in fast-paced Manhattan, the three twentysomethings quit their coveted media jobs and leave behind their friends, boyfriends, and everything familiar to travel the globe. Dubbing themselves the Lost Girls, they embark on an epic yearlong search for inspiration and direction.

As they journey 60,000 miles across four continents and more than a dozen countries, Jen, Holly, and Amanda step far outside of their comfort zones, embracing every adventure and experience the world has to offer—shooting blowguns with Yagua elders in the Amazon, learning capoeira on the beaches of Brazil, volunteering with preteen girls at a school in rural Kenya, hiking with Hmong villagers in Vietnam, and driving through Australia in a psychedelic camper van. Along the way, the Lost Girls find not only themselves but also a lifelong friendship. Ultimately, theirs is a story of true sisterhood—a bond forged by sharing beds and backpacks, enduring exotic illnesses, fending off aggressive street vendors, trekking across rivers and over mountains, and standing by one another through heartaches, whirlwind romances, and everything in the world in between.

This candid and compelling memoir will speak to anyone who has ever felt the desire to spread her wings and discover the world with her best friends by her side.
The Friendship
The story follows Amanda, Holly, and Jen as they leave behind their grown-up lives and jet off into the unknown of travel. OBVIOUSLY this story rings close to home for me and after Hannah recommended it to me, I had to give it a try. The story is told in alternating chapters with each girl getting their turn to tell their story through their eyes. I loved this. We get an unbiased and basically objective look into their life abroad. I liked getting to know each girl's inner voice and what they valued and what they were looking for in this year of traveling. I found myself connecting with Holly the most as she truly looked for and saw the beauty in simplicity in the world around her. I loved that she talked about faith and feeling a higher power with her when she saw sunrises in beautiful places. Not that I didn't love the other girls as well but Amanda seemed to have the most in common with me and I really looked forward to her voice and narration.

Overall, the three girls' personalities complemented each other perfectly. It is a theme throughout the book that the trip would never have worked out as it did had they not all been there. They balanced each other, they challenged each other, they were there for each other. I love this feeling of female camaraderie and it reeeeeeally made me wish I could kidnap two friends and make them travel with me for a year. YOLO!

The Adventures
The chronicles of their adventures (and misadventures) were amazing. What I loved, personally, was that they started off in South America (where I'm going or by the time this post goes live have been) and then Kenya where I've been. I felt a connection to these places already and reading about other peoples' experiences there made me fall more in love with the designations. I was yearning for my little tent in Africa and actually wishing I was back to being dirty and taking cold showers out in the bush. Le sigh. Who knew? While I would have loved more stories about their hangups and things that went wrong (because duh, it always happens) I loved reading about the good things they saw and people they met. It was a pretty good mix of good and bad with the positive outweighing the negative.

The Clarity
I love reading about different cultures and seeing different places through their eyes made me ache with wanting to go to the places they went, especially Southeast Asia. Vietname, even though their experience was negative, has been a place I've been wanting to go for a while, and now I've officially added a yoga retreat in Bali to my bucket list. They did theirs in India, but I digress. The best part of this book for me was how open-minded they were in regards to other cultures and their differences. I find it easy for Americans to judge the primitive ways of some cultures without appreciated a different way of life and the way these girls just jumped in and 'went native' for the most part was extremely enlightening to read about. Anybody wanna take a year off with me?

The Pacing
Like I said above, I loved the beginning of this book but I found the pacing towards the end to be really dragged out. The episodes in Southeast Asia were interesting in regards to culture but I felt like that entire section and their time in Australia really slowed down. I wasn't as inspired while reading and I just wanted to see where they all ended up after their trip. The books is long, over 500 pages, and some editing in the ending sections could have really helped this book become a favorite.

The Travel Breaks
So...I'm being a little judge-y about this but the girls, Amanda in particular, took breaks to go back home while traveling and this just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. One..why? I didn't see any reason for them to be gone for 8 weeks only to go back to New York for two weeks. I feel like that would break up my good vibes and mojo while being away. It felt like cheating in a way. I know I'm being unsympathetic about this but I can't help how I feel. And Holly actually went home twice. She was the most concerned about money and um, if you're that concerned about money I don't see how spending an extra approximately $1200 on an international flight home to and from Asia doesn't seem like the wisest investment. She had to borrow money from one of the friends to fund her flight home and well...it just irritated me to blow money on a flight home when the point of traveling for that long, to me, is to really get away from it all. That's just me though.

General Admission
If you love travel memoirs, books about friendships, and have an incessant case of wanderlust...this book is for you.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, this book is perfect for you though, Kel! Girls who travel the world = Kelly. You're the only friend in my life who is an avid traveler, and I love hearing about YOUR adventures :) But this book sounds great too!

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