Monday, May 23, 2011



An American girl cannot decide what to do with her life, so she wanders around Ireland, Australia and South America with a free-spirited friend.


This is a fun coming-of-age story about a young woman who is just discovering the joys of travel. Good girl Rachel Friedman makes an uncharacteristic decision to go to Ireland without a plan. She is predictably unprepared for the challenges of living in a new country, but soon meets up with Carly, an adventurous Australian, who helps her make the most of her new life and an over-abundance of Guinness. Their friendship eventually takes them around the world, and Friedman learns to let go of her need for a plan and to embrace the freedom of each experience.

Although there are plenty of interesting descriptions of the various exotic locales, this is really a book about traveling culture. The characters who feature most prominently are backpackers from around the world. They have chosen to explore the far reaches of the world for a host of different reasons, but they share a common bond on the road. The book does not create a lasting impression of the locals or the cultures of the various countries, except when Friedman lives with Carly's family in Australia. It is really about being open-minded and allowing oneself to live a life that is different from the traditional American career path, wherever it may take you.

The writing style is witty and genuine. Friedman has no trouble being honest as she details the struggles she has had with her parents, a sense of failure resulting from her decision to leave music school, and the practical discomforts of long-term travel. Her voice is thoroughly engaging, and she captures the attitude of a generation of young people who want something more than a soul-destroying job in the city. This is a book that will speak to anyone who has wondered what they really want to do with their lives (i.e. pretty much everyone), and is especially relevant for young people who have discovered that their preferred industry is now closed to them in the new economic climate. More than anything, it is a book about possibilities.



$9.99 for the Kindle edition


Are you doing what you have always wanted to do with your life? What has affected or changed your path the most?


  1. Great Review, this book looks really interesting.

  2. +JMJ+

    Well, your questions hit home!

    I was just thinking, "I wish I could wander around Ireland, Australia and South America with a free spirited friend . . ." We all can't be that lucky while we're deciding what to do with our lives.

    To answer your first question, no, what I'm doing now is not what I had hoped to be doing at this point in my life. I feel as if I'm in a rut, but I don't really know what to do to change it.

    To answer the second, yes, I know exactly what happened. I decided to resign from my full-time position as a high school Lit teacher; I had had that job for two years--enough time for the bureaucracy, the faculty politics, and most of all, the paperwork to completely crush my spirit. (Well, not really . . . but a few months after resigning, I ran into some former colleagues and they all agreed that I looked so much more "beautiful"--yes, their word--than I did when I worked with them. I think I just finally relaxed!)

    Anyway, I've been "off the grid" since then, still afraid to go back to full-time teaching.

    But my own "preferred industry" which has definitely been denied me by modern culture and the modern economy is that of domestic science. ;-) I'd love to be a housewife. But given that two incomes are needed to pay the bills these days, that's completely unfeasible for women who aren't married to millionaires. =/

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences Enbrethiliel. I can definitely understand how office politics can sour an otherwise appealing position. I hope you are able to find a more fulfilling way to pursue your interests (unless you can find a millionaire to marry :). How about a change of scenery? HK can always use more teachers!

    I was in my final year of university when the global economy fell apart. I can only think of one friend from college who actually got a job doing what she had always planned to do when she graduated, and she's quitting to move to Peru this summer! I hope to be a literary agent or an editor, but so far teaching English has been the way to pay the bills. I'm blessed that I get to do it in such an interesting city right now. I feel inspired to write in HK, and I'm also keeping track of the rather volatile book industry from here, so I have high hopes for the future.

  4. +JMJ+

    Thanks for the reality check. As usual, I need to be reminded that a lot of people have been set back and that it's not just me everything is happening to! =P

    I'm glad to hear that Hong Kong is working out well for you. Yes, we all do what we can to pay the bills--but let's hope we at least do something interesting! Good luck with your writing! =)


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