Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #37 LibraryLove July 25, 2010

Book 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.

Could you drop everything and travel the world? Who would you take along for the ride? How long would you go? More importantly, could three twenty-something friends leave their posh upper-west side lives for a year of adventure away from the “Lipstick Jungle” and survive the REAL wilderness for an entire year? Read on to find out!

I stumbled upon this book in one of the daily editions of Shelf Awareness, and I have to say, I’ve found some fantastic new indie reads out of it! The Lost Girls, will probably be one of my stand-out favorite summer read this year. This SERIOUS chunkster is 600 pages of adventure, excitement, and world discovery (which probably could be pared down to about 450), but it was a fun ride nonetheless. I really took my time wanting to savor all the excitement and wonder the girls chronicled through their encounters. Struggling to find perspective while living in Manhattan, three friends in their late 20s, Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda, embarked on an unconventional detour. A 60,000 mile round- the-world journey lead the girls across four continents and more than a dozen countries. As the title suggests, they dubbed themselves “The Lost Girls” – a term describing both their own uncertainties about the future and an emotional state they felt represented many of their peers. This book chronicled these three friends’ commitment to spending one entire year wandering the globe.

The structure of this book flowed nicely as each chapter covered about 4-6 weeks of the trip from Jennifer’s point of view , the next 4-6 weeks from Holly, and then Amanda, (then lather, rinse, repeat) the entire course of the book covering a year’s time. I’ve never seen a memoir written this way and it worked so well. As the reader, I felt like I was making three new friends and reading their journal or blog along the way. I could really pick up on their different personalities and conversation styles yet it still maintained a cohesive feel.  One quote really summed up their personalities:

“I knew Holly needed to go running daily and embark on frequent missions to the markets. Amanda would get antsy if a few days went by without going online, writing, and blogging. As for me, well I just wanted to get involved in any hedonistic pleasure that didn’t require technology. Much of the time, our interests intersected, but we were totally fine with a two-to-one group split when they didn’t.” ~ Jennifer

One of my other favorite parts of the book happened during a quick stop back in Manhattan to obtain Visas for the second leg of their journey, when Amanda crashed with college friend Sarah. Although Sarah was two years younger than Amanda, Sarah had always been the more mature friend of their circle. Giving Amanda a tour of her very own grown-up, and couple-y new place, Amanda began to realize just how divergent their lives were. While Amanda spent her early years in the city jump-starting her career, falling for (and subsequently disentangling herself from ) her first very serious boyfriend, whirling through a handful of Mr. Wrongs, and eventually abandoning city life to go traveling, Sarah had lived more deliberately. After college she’d moved to Manhattan, become an interior designer at an Upper Easter Side firm, met the love of her life and the rest is history. Meanwhile, Amanda rolled into Sarah’s apartment with a full pack of stinky laundry from two months spent in the wilderness. I love that through reading, we can re-examine our life choices and live vicariously through characters. I can relate to BOTH Amanda AND Sarah, but particularly Sarah in this scene. I knew what I wanted out of life from an early age and fought my way toward it. I never had a lackadaisical attitude toward really anything in life so the idea of just dropping everything for an entire year to go explore was never and will never be on my radar. I love the structure, yet spontaneity of my life. I would never want to walk away from it. But I can understand that if you didn’t have a sense of contentment and direction, taking a life-changing trip like this one could propel you into finding your passion. I admire Jennifer, Holly, and Amanda’s courageous spirit and adventurous nature. I embrace trying new things and traveling to new places, but long-term travel is nowhere on my list. I crave the comforts of home, bug-free sleeping quarters, my wonderful husband and our lives.

Whether  you’re a world traveler or a casual sight-seer, I recommend everyone read this book! It might even help you plan your next excursion abroad…

If nothing else, you can live vicariously through “The Lost Girls”.

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?

4/5 stars

37 down, 15 to go!

In progress- Nineteen Minutes

xo♥xo, LibraryLove