Weddings and endings and beginnings

In high school, I was a serious theatre nerd. Trying out for my first play freshman year was a huge leap for young, socially-awkward me — and not just because it required me to memorize lines and not fall face-first on the school stage. Coming from the disjointed throes of middle school, I was looking for a way to become a new person — a more confident person — and theatre seemed like a natural way to try that.

Over the course of four years, I was in more than a dozen shows and met countless people. Theatre changed my life in profound ways — especially because I was so active in the department during those crucial teen years. The fun of playing a character on stage held major draw for me, sure, but that wasn’t even what I loved most about theatre.

It was the friendships.

Over the course of a few months, we would audition and be cast and then spend hours daily running lines, rehearsing scenes and getting to know one another. After school each day, our cast and crew would assemble and start to plan these huge shows that would take over our young lives. And when opening day would finally arrive, finding us all antsy and excited and scared, there was always a time before the curtain drew open that I would force myself to pause and savor the moment.

In that world, murmurs from the audience reached the actors and technicians buzzing around backstage as the stage manager would wrangle us with whispered instructions. As show time approached, my stomach would lurch as lines and directions ran through my nervous mind. But when the spotlight clicked on and my heels hit the stage, all that anxiety would ebb away.

Backstage is where I first met Erin, my steadfast friend and new bride. As a freshman, I envied sophomore Erin’s confidence, humor and poise. Both active in drama, it didn’t take long for us to share costume tips, laugh as ’50s teenyboppers in “Bye Bye Birdie” (pictured above) and form bonds that would carry us into adulthood.

With a wide circle of mutual friends, Erin never made me feel like I was another passing acquaintance. Our conversations have inspired me in difficult times, and my trust in her is absolute. A year ahead of me in school, Erin was the first of my friends to arrive at the college I would follow her to the next fall. We briefly lost touch at university, but nothing could have delighted me more than getting a Facebook note from her during my junior year: “I think we have a class together this spring!”

We were both English majors and poets, and it was a literature class on the works of William Shakespeare that brought us together again. I remember the afternoon she showed me a text message from a handsome guy she’d just met. Her eyes glittered like diamonds, and neither of us paid much attention to our droning professor. She was thinking about when she would see him next.

About twelve years after Erin and I shared a stage in high school and more than five years since that class, Erin and Matt were married at Ft. Belvoir on Sept. 10. As one of her bridesmaids, we spent Saturday getting ready and laughing about old times. Secluded before the ceremony, I listened to the murmur of guests arriving and felt my stomach flip. All these years later and we were in a show together again. I ran through my lines and directions, but my task now was simple: try not to cry as my dear friend married her love.

Just as we had more than a decade ago, I marched ahead of Erin into the spotlight — and held my breath as she appeared on her father’s arm. My chest ached as I took in the moment: this ending and this beginning; the pooling of tears in the groom’s eyes; this exquisitely beautiful bride, and the true gift that has been our years of friendship. When I think about all that Erin has meant to me, I feel overwhelmed. I wiped tears away the entire ceremony.

Vows were exchanged and promises made, and this performance went on as scheduled. Love lit up Erin and Matt’s faces all evening, and we enjoyed delicious food and even better times. Dancing and snapping shots in a photo booth were definite highlights, and it felt so good to have Spencer on my arm.

When I looked over at the newlyweds’ expressions and felt my own face mirroring that high, I was emotional all over again. I’ve had my heart broken. Erin has been there for me through everything — through that, and so much more — and I felt so elated to just be . . . happy. And in love. In love at her wedding, a moment we’ve anticipated for so long. And when Spencer pulled me in for a dance, I forgot about whether or not everyone was watching us. It didn’t matter. Nothing did.

I think about Erin and all the good things I wish for her. I think about Matt and how I hope and pray he will love and care for her always, as I hope she will for him. I think about all the exciting things that are ahead of them — and for me, and for all of us — and am filled with this sense of elation and wonderment and pride.

Weddings are beginnings — but they’re endings, too. But for once in my life, I didn’t focus on the sadness that can often tint my enjoyment of the good things in life. I thought about how honored I was to be a part of her day, and how thankful I am for the people in my world.

And like so many of our plays in high school — and all the good books I’ve read — I know this is just the beginning of their fairytale ending.

Win the book I’m still raving about: ‘How To Love An American Man’

Back in the dark ages — okay, April
I read a book that completely blew me away: Kristine Gasbarre’s How To Love An American Man.

I’ve done some thinking about why the book resonated so completely with me, and the conclusion I’ve reached is thus: Krissy is a real person who wrote a real story about her real relationships with her family, especially her grandparents, and it was such a refreshing change to read about a woman close to my age grappling with the same issues as me: searching for and keeping love; maintaining closeness as a family; growing up and moving on, but still wanting to stay close to those who have come to define you.

I was so moved by How To Love An American Man that I immediately emailed Krissy to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that I wanted to be her best friend. I’ve been known to write gushy fangirl letters from time to time, and this one was no different — and color me thrilled when Krissy wrote back. It’s rare that you meet you someone so talented and kind — and so deserving of success. We met in New York City during this year’s Book Blogger Convention and I adored her as much in person as I had through both her memoir and letters.

Basically, she inspires me — and her book inspires me. So I want to share it with all of you. I will buy one copy of How To Love An American Man for a winner randomly chosen from comments on this post, and all you have to do is tell me this: What memory of your grandparents will you never forget? (If you don’t have grandparent recollections to share, no worries; feel free to leave another family memory.)

UPDATE: Krissy has graciously offered to send her book to two winners, so I’m extending the giveaway to 12 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Sept. 6. I’ll randomly choose two winners from the comments on this post and email them.

UPDATE on Sept. 6: Congratulations to Mona and Laura Kay, our randomly-selected winners! Ladies, I’ll be emailing you shortly for your addresses.

Book review: ‘Sisterhood Everlasting’ by Ann Brashares

Despite its length, this review is spoiler free!

For every reader, there is an author who needs no introduction. You don’t have to convince me to pick up their latest book with a slick press release, awesome book trailer or ethereal dust jacket. These things might make me even more excited, sure, but I know something about these writers as well as I know my own (big) nose: I’m going to read their stories no matter what.

Ann Brashares is one such author — when it comes to her Sisterhood books, anyway. I read her series centering on lifelong friends Tibby, Carmen, Lena and Bridget as a teen myself and was particularly enchanted by the fact they lived in suburban Maryland, like me. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novels were hallmarks of my formative years — novels that bolstered me up and encouraged me with their realistic models of love and friendship. I adored the films based on the books, too, and think often of the Septembers and where they would be now.

Which is why I shouted with joy after learning Brashares would offer us a follow-up to her beloved series: Sisterhood Everlasting, a novel checking in with the girls ten years after the fourth book ended. At 29, I expected Tibby, Lena, Bridget and Carmen to have developed and grown and matured in such a way that I would celebrate both their struggles and successes, rejoicing in the redemptive powers of friendship. I was expecting a look at surviving a quarter-life crisis, perhaps, and figured one or two might be married, might have children, might have “big girl” jobs in cities. I assumed they’d still be figuring out their family and personal dramas, sure, but they’d be light years ahead of were they were. Life is all about moving forward, after all.

But I didn’t expect the long, melodramatic and often maudlin book I was delivered. Going into Sisterhood Everlasting, I didn’t even read a synopsis of the plot — I just knew I had to read it, no matter what, so I didn’t bother. I didn’t want anything to be spoiled for me. My approach was completely fresh and undiluted; I walked in with a clear head and an open heart. And I was disappointed.

I didn’t expect to feel sick to my stomach while reading this book, aching with a hurt I didn’t know I could feel for book characters. Since I don’t think I can discuss Sisterhood Everlasting without spoiling the story for you, I’m not going to describe it at all. And if you’re planning on reading this one, I wouldn’t recommend peeking at too many other summaries, either.

I wanted to love this book. I wanted so badly to love this book, and it pains me to say that I just . . . did not love this book. Brashares’ writing is, as always, lovely and moving. She has a way of diving straight into the minds of these, our favorite friends, that is unparalleled. What they felt, I felt. How they hurt? I hurt (and oh, did I hurt). But it was all just so sad, you guys. Really, really sad.

The only bright spot in the long, drawn-out slog that was Sisterhood Everlasting was the story of Lena and Kostas. Lena has long been my favorite of the Septembers and the most like me, I’d wager, and I craved the bits of narrative involving the two like a wanderer lost in the desert. No matter how tough this was to read, I had to see how Kostas and Lena’s stories would play out.

Was this book suspenseful, thought-provoking, addictive? Yes. Did I ever actually think of abandoning it in the few days in which I inhaled it, desperate for the next section? No. Did my stomach ache as though I’d suffered through a terrible episode of grief myself, giving me bad dreams for days? Absolutely.

But I’m not sorry I read it. I wish Brashares had written us a different ending, but I understand the thought process behind the undying nature of the girls’ bond . . . and I could appreciate what it was she was trying to demonstrate. But I didn’t like it, and I was disappointed by the fact that, ten years after we last saw them, none of the girls seemed to have changed or matured at all.

My sister, also a devoted Sisterhood fan, read this book before me. I watched for days as she paced the house with hardcover in hand, frantically turning the pages and staying up late into the night to finish. As someone who works from home and has a crazy schedule, Kate barely has time to read — but she finished Sisterhood Everlasting less than 72 hours after receiving it. When she was ready to pass it over to me, her eyes were glassy. “I think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read,” she announced.

Lofty praise.

I was next with it and also devoured the novel quickly. For three days, we checked in with each other constantly regarding plot development and stayed up discussing the intricacies of the story. As I continued reading and found myself more and more annoyed, Kate’s eyes began to narrow. She’d loved it fiercely and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t just as enamored with it as she was.

After I finished Sisterhood Everlasting and shared my final thoughts, my sister seemed angry with me. It’s always that way with a book we love intensely, isn’t it? We’re protective of it. We nurture it. We want to keep it safe from harm. “You better not give that book a bad review!” she hollered.

And I’m not, Kate. More of a lukewarm one with a soft undertone of distaste.

Fans of the Sisterhood series will be eager to catch up with their favorite characters, but I’d warn any tender hearts away from this one. On the whole, I would have rather left our ladies on the cusp of adulthood on that final day in Greece. That parting scene in Forever In Blue brought tears to my eyes in a way that this book never did — or could. I just wanted more.

3 out of 5!

ISBN: 0385521227 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program

Book review: ‘Beauty Queens’ by Libba Bray

After a crash sends a plane full of beauty pageant contestants onto a desert island, the teen girls aboard begin to take inventory of what has survived. A few renegade hair appliances and makeup? Check. Only about a dozen girls from the original fifty competing? Also check, unfortunately. And anything else?

Just drama. You can’t kill drama off.

The young women vying for the title of Miss Teen Dream must put aside their competitive natures and band together to survive, and the results are often funny — or sad. Each teen carries her own set of worries, insecurities and issues, and most have something to hide. Led by the indefatigable Taylor, Miss Texas, we journey across the island with the girls as they uncover shady dealings and terrible plots, and we’re left picking up the wreckage. Literally.

Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens is a tongue-in-cheek, witty and over-the-top exploration of so many themes, it’s hard to nail them all down in a single paragraph. We have feminism, sexism, racism; we have GLBT issues, equality and the idea of achieving an impossible standard of beauty. We also deal with sex as a means for self-esteem and low self-esteem that stems from unrealistic expectations. But despite the bevy of Big Issues happening here, Bray managed to draw me into a fast-paced story and get me invested in characters I wasn’t sure I would like.

Everyone has an idea of what a “beauty queen” looks like, acts like, sounds like. We’ve seen the clips of young women getting tongue-tied and embarrassing themselves with bad answers, and there’s some sadistic pleasure we might take in their failure. It’s as if to say, “No, you can’t have it all, chickadee. You can’t be smart and beautiful. You can’t be witty and sexy. Take your pick.”

Bray teaches us to ignore that impulse, of course, and peek behind the sparkly evening gowns (so to speak). My favorite Teen Dreamer was Adina, Miss Massachusetts, and I have an inkling that Bray herself is most like this contestant. Snarky and skeptical, Adina has a chip on her shoulder and something to prove — like everyone there, of course. Whether they’re trying to mollify an overeager stage parent, prove their worth beyond the perfect arch of an eyebrow or earn money for college, every woman is clawing for the title. But they start to realize there’s more to life than a beauty-based championship.

Beauty Queens is rife with pop culture references and allusions to contemporary events, and the event’s mastermind Ladybird Hope is a power-hungry manipulator who seems to channel Sarah Palin. These references felt a bit “Where’s Waldo?” to me; I was constantly trying to spot them. But they didn’t distract from an otherwise colorful story.

Was the book campy, dramatic and borderline ridiculous? Yes. Implausible and pretty unrealistic, too. But Bray, a masterful writer, knows this — and there’s a huge difference between wanting a book to be tongue-in-cheek and just having it be silly. The dramatic plot revelations kept me on my toes, and I was able to sink back and enjoy the story for what it was: a deadpan look at society and femininity, all told through the lens of unique and multifaceted women. The sheer amount of characters was overwhelming, but I did feel like I got to know most of them well.

A thought-provoking read that I finished quickly, though not one I’d recommend to everyone. Though Beauty Queens tackles heavy ideas with a lighter touch, the heaviness does remain. And though I wasn’t thrilled with the cheesy epilogue, I appreciated that Bray tied up loose ends for us. A worthwhile book for summer and teen readers, especially, who might appreciate realistic heroines preaching the good word of Just Be Yourself.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0439895979 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher

Book review: ‘Friendship Bread’ by Darien Gee

You know that cozy feeling that envelopes you when you take a bite of warm chocolate cake, homemade cookies, fresh-baked bread or apple pie? Well, Darien Gee does, too — and that’s exactly how she created Friendship Bread, one of the most heartwarming books I’ve read in a long time.

It all starts with a note. “I hope you enjoy it,” reads Julia Evarts, a mother still lost in a tumult of grief after losing her son, Josh, five years earlier. On her front porch is a plate bearing a few slices of cake-like bread and a Ziploc bag full of an unknown gooey substance. Rather than call a Hazmat team, Julia inspects the Post-It and accompanying instructions for something called “Amish Friendship Bread,” a concept that intrigues her young daughter, Gracie. It’s Gracie’s curiosity that keeps Julia from chucking the disgusting thing in the trash — and it becomes a pet project for the two Evarts women, marking the first time Julia has taken an interest in something in years.

And thus begins the odyssey of a “starter” — the bag containing the beginnings of Amish Friendship Bread, a chain letter-like way of sharing baked goods with friends and neighbors. As Julia musters up the enthusiasm to bake her first batch of bread, the recipe (and more starters) are shared with the women of Avalon, Ill., a small riverside town outside Chicago. It doesn’t take long before she meets Hannah, a young cellist who arrives in town only to be greeted unceremoniously dumped by her husband, and the two eventually convene at Madeline’s Tea Salon, a beautiful old home that resident Madeline Davis has converted into a cafe and tea shop.

Also populating Avalon are Edie, a reporter at the local paper waiting for her big break; and Livvy, Julia’s estranged sister. Time and a well of pain have kept the women from speaking since Josh’s death, though Livvy desperately craves her big sister’s forgiveness. Or, if nothing else, absolution from guilt.

But it never seems like it will come.

Or will it?

Over the course of one novel, Darien Gee has created characters I want to befriend, console and share a kitchen with — especially if brownies are involved. For as often as my stomach rumbled while reading Friendship Bread, a novel that had me craving both hugs and dessert, I was so wrapped up in Gee’s storylines that I barely stopped to eat or drink or breathe for three days.

Okay. So, you know, I had to go to work. But when I wasn’t working or helping with Spencer’s behemoth move? I was reading this book. And crying and laughing and loving it.

I’m going to be unabashedly gushy. I absolutely loved Julia, Mark and Gracie, a small family torn apart by grief. Gee did a masterful job of conveying Julia’s pain without dragging us into a pit of despair, accurately showing how tough life has become for her without invoking our pity and annoyance. All I wanted was to reach into the book, wrap Julia in my arms and force her to make amends with Livvy, her sister — what a heartbreaker that was, too. I had faith, though, that everything would turn around . . . baked goods or no baked goods.

But I’m glad there were baked goods.

I can’t discuss Friendship Bread without, you know, acknowledging the bread in question. It sounded delicious and aggravating and crazy, but I can definitely understand the appeal — even though I’m guilty of tossing out my own bags of starter in the past. When a coworker approached me years ago with a plastic bag full of flesh-colored goop, I gave her the stink eye — but accepted it (I didn’t want to be rude). It languished on my kitchen table for a few days before I decided I wasn’t committed to the project and threw it away, but not before acknowledging my own defeat.

“Google ‘Amish Friendship Bread’ on your computer and be prepared to have enough reading for a week,” Gee writes. “It’s a slice of American contemporary history, an edible chain letter that fills people with equal amounts of hope and dread.”

And it sweeps Avalon, creating quite the buzz in town and leaving townspeople with too much starter and no one willing to take it. That’s how the women arrive at Madeline’s Tea Salon and find a sympathetic ear in Madeline, the older woman who quickly becomes everyone’s friend. I adored Madeline and her propensity for baking and caring for others, all the while wishing someone would arrive to take care of her. The salon is absolutely a place I could while away a few hours, being spoiled rotten by Madeline’s delicious food and wisdom.

I wanted to move there.

The highlight of Friendship Bread — and a hallmark of Gee’s talent — is that this novel is both big and small in scope, providing us a glimpse of the interior lives of so many characters without overwhelming us. We know how I feel about Too Many Characters-itis and, as a new person was introduced every few chapters, I started to squirm. But I can honestly say I felt invested in the lives of everyone Gee spotlights, even the Avalonians on whom we focused for just a few paragraphs. These people felt real and tangible and interesting, and I wanted to get to know them all. And I felt like I did.

Brimming with recipes, insight and a heartwarming ending, Friendship Bread was a surprise of a read that had me up late in a thunderstorm to finish. Though I know some have deemed the trope of friendship bread bring a town together “far-fetched,” I had no trouble just going with it. Sometimes? Sometimes, you just want to feel happy. And good. And this novel did just that for me.

4.5 out of 5!

ISBN: 0345525345 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program

Book review: ‘The Bake-Off’ by Beth Kendrick

Sisters Amy and Linnie grew up skirting around each other, watching as the chasm between them split beyond repair when they were teens. As adults, Linnie — once a beautiful genius on the path to greatness — has settled for dealing blackjack in Las Vegas, where she scampers about in tight-fitting uniforms and ponders where she went awry. Popular wild child Amy has settled into a life of domesticity with her husband, a successful dentist, and their twins, but she wonders if her happy life is really “enough.”

Neither sister is concerned about the incident that separated them for good — not anymore, anyway. But their grandmother Syl, a sassy Polish immigrant, is determined to end the hostilities . . . and all over a delicious, flaky and irresistible apple pie.

Secret Sisterhood Szarlotka is the prized recipe passed through generations of the Bialek family — and now it’s Linnie and Amy’s turn to prepare it. Grammy Syl has entered the same baking competition for years but, with a few well-placed fibs, it’s the sisters who arrive to prepare the szarlotka before a team of judges in New York City. Linnie is desperate for cash and Amy is desperate for a respite from her busy family life — so what’s it going to be? Make up and bake up — or fail and bail?

Beth Kendrick’s The Bake-Off is a sweet, fun and entertaining look at family, love and the perfect pastry. Kendrick immediately drew me into the Bialeks’ world with tales of Linnie’s unfulfilling life in Vegas and Amy’s frazzled days in Connecticut. Each woman was sympathetic, colorful, interesting — a fully fleshed-out and compelling character. I could sense the discord between them — anyone could, of course — but there was something tangible beneath the surface: love. And a sense that they wanted to repair what was broken between them . . . but didn’t know how.

Enter Grammy Syl. What a lovable, hilarious woman — and a devoted matriarch of their family. Syl’s undying hope that her granddaughters would reunite is endearing even when it seems ill-advised, and I could definitely imagine a determined grandmother scheming to bring her family back together in just this way. It seems like the tension between Amy and Linnie is insurmountable, but is it? I didn’t want to think so. Kendrick does a wonderful job of making the issues real without overwhelming us with drama.

In fact, for a novel about a baking competition, the drama was anything but cheesy; it was fun. After the sisters arrive to make with the famous szarlotka, their competition is willing to do anything for a cut of the $100,000 grand prize. Tai and Ty Tottenham are The Bake-Off’s villains — a husband and wife duo not averse to sabotage. Watching Linnie and Amy navigate around them was very amusing.

At the heart of the story, though, is the apple pie that brings the girls together — and my mouth was watering at descriptions of the perfect crust and tart filling. Amy and Linnie’s relationship progressed beautifully and left me feeling tender and warmhearted for my own sibling, and I think that’s what Kendrick would want. Though I wasn’t a huge fan of the love story that developed partway through, it didn’t bother me much. My eye was on that pie.

Fans of women’s fiction, foodie fiction and novels about sisters will delight in Kendrick’s descriptions, vivid characters and fast-paced, hilarious dialogue. A book that often had me laughing aloud — and wiping away a tear at points. Recommended.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0451233107 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for my honest review

Book review: ‘The Lost Girls’ by Jen Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner

Three friends are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: a year’s free pass away from friends, family and work obligations; a chance to see the world and participate in customs once viewed only on TV shows or in novels.

The catch? Well, there isn’t one — except for the fact that Holly, Jen and Amanda are all choosing to leave behind their relatively stable lives in New York City to pursue an uncharted course. All headed toward a dreaded quarter-life crisis, the ladies ponder what their next steps will be: in their relationships, cutthroat jobs and busy existences away from home. A journey away from it all seems like an opportunity they can’t let escape.

And so begins Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner’s The Lost Girls, a travel memoir about friendship, acceptance, culture and life on the road. Through the pages of this 500-page tome, we dance with locals in Brazil, assist nurses and the sick in Kenya, study yoga in India and so, so much more. It’s a lengthy book but a worthwhile read, and one that had me eager to collect a few more stamps on my passport.

Just not quite the way they did.

Could I imagine essentially “quitting” my life for a year to travel the globe, meeting strangers and sleeping in hostels and using a bathroom that isn’t really a “bathroom” at all? Absolutely not. In the year in which Amanda, Jen and Holly plan their trek, they save money relentlessly — and vow to live as cheaply as possible while traversing the countries they start to call home. It’s impossible not to draw parallels between The Lost Girls and Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s chronicle of her time traveling after a painful divorce. Though none of the authors leave New York in search of enlightenment persay, quite the way I believe Gilbert did, they still come home completely different people.

Not that that’s any shock.

The memoir is told in chapters alternating between Jen, Holly and Amanda’s points of view and, as a reader, I thought this worked well; we get to hear everyone’s side of the story. At times I struggled to distinguish between each narrator’s voice, though I think that’s a testament to their similar writing talents and friendship; though their opinions of each place differed, their presentation was largely the same.

I related most to Holly, a writer struggling to sustain her passionate but distant relationship with boyfriend Elan, an actor. Holly was the bold and athletic member of their trio, always managing to get in a run or embark on a new project — regardless of the country where they were currently storing their backpacks. More than anything, I admired the ladies’ ability to live simply but beautifully — and to be brave and bold enough to attempt something this adventurous.

As a book, their tales felt a little long . . . and, at times, repetitive. New country. New people. New guys. Throw into a pot and simmer, then serve and repeat. But that didn’t mean I didn’t still enjoy the story overall and curiously read about each new experience — because it was fun and total escapism, plus it portrayed their friendships both positively and negatively . . . so, you know, realistically. Though they don’t sugarcoat their experiences in developing countries, they’re always careful to highlight both the challenges and triumphs in each place — and I felt like, overall, I got a good feel for each of their destinations.

My favorite chapter dealt with Amanda, Jen and Holly’s time in Kenya, where they volunteered with a nonprofit and worked with young women living at a nearby boarding school and given the chance for a real education. The students’ fascination with Western women and American culture was eye-opening, and I loved the scene where the authors are able to share music through their iPods with the girls or actually watch a movie — something the Kenyan girls had never experienced. Simple things we take for granted. Simple concepts that are anything but simple elsewhere in the world.

Don’t be too discouraged by its girth and my drawbacks — despite the size of The Lost Girls, this travel memoir is very readable, interesting and compelling . . . especially to twenty-somethings with a taste for the open road and desire to think about what comes “next.” I enjoyed the epilogue, too; a satisfying conclusion to a satisfying journey.

4 out of 5!

ISBN: 0061997390 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours