I have an embarrassing number of books on my shelf about people who quit their jobs/commitments/lives and travel the world. Or at least, I would be embarrassed if my bookshelf didn’t hold an equally enormous collection of chicklit. Next to the entirety of the Shopaholic series, my stack of travel memoirs looks downright intellectual. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to travel, and that I look forward to vacations for weeks with giddy anticipation. So when I’m not jumping a plane myself, it makes sense that I would love to bury myself in a story where someone lives out my ultimate fantasy – living a life, at least for a time, on the road.
The Lost Girls (Harper Collins, 2011) is a bit unique in my collection in that it’s the only book I have about a group of friends travelling together. Also unique is that there’s not a bit of Europe in the entire book. Instead, New York City twenty-somethings Jen, Holly, and Amanda, after over a year of careful saving and planning, put their lives on hold to backpack through parts of South America, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia.
I really enjoyed this book, mostly because it was an interesting look at traveling through countries and cultures much different than our own. I liked that the story was told from the points of view of all three women, and that the journey they took was a collaboration between them, stopping in places that each had dreamed of visiting. Their destinations were interesting as well. They would often stay places for weeks at a time to soak up the local culture and really immerse themselves in the country. In Kenya, they volunteered with a rural school, where they met and worked with a group of pre-adolescent girls who lived at the school because they had been attacked walking back and forth from their homes. In India, they studied at a Buddhist ashram. The didn’t just visit temples and the Inca Trail, but also local markets and tucked away beaches. They made friends with fellow travelers, ex-pats, and locals. And through it all, they had the same worries that any traveling group would have – money, the lives they’d left back home, and their determination to spend a year in constant companionship and still come out as friends on the other end.
The book is not perfect, of course. The authors can all get a little simile-heavy at times, and because it’s told from different perspectives, the story can sometimes feel slightly disjointed as they travel from one place to the next. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed hitching a ride with the Lost Girls as they traveled the world. If you’re the type of person with a passport at the ready and a list of places you’d like it to take you one day, I think you’ll enjoy their journey as well.
Also, because I know you’re singing it now too…