The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner

Monday, May 9, 2011


The Lost Girls
Less that three hours after we'd started, our group sat cross-legged on a stone terrace to soak up the moment we'd trekked twenty-six miles to witness: The first rays peeked out from behind the sprawling ruins of Machu Picchu. As the sky morphed from pink to gold to periwinkle, the light pushed shadows across the stones, making them appear to be living, breathing beings.

After reading my last memoir/travelogue, I thought I was done with them. It was mostly because the authors were either in a mid-life crisis and decided to travel or the whole self-discovery phase felt a bit strange or impersonal to me. But I took a short or rather long detour when I saw this book on the TLC Book Tours listing. Because, I just loved the sound of it. Three girlfriends who drop everything - work, life, relationships - and take a one year trek around the world. Now, who among us hasn't fantasized about something like that? I won't say that I envisioned leaving everything for a year or even half, but a month is usually what I've imagined. I've always disliked being tied down to or by anything just as much as I love having something (work, family) to belong to. Those are very conflicting emotions, which is why I was curious about how the authors of this book did it. They all had jobs that could easily replace them on the merit of even a half-day absence. Two of them had boyfriends they were seeing seriously, and asking them to wait for a year is never an enticing option. And yet, somehow they decided that they needed to make this journey. I absolutely loved these girls!

The plan to go on a one-year visit sprung when Jennifer, Amanda and Holly visited the Iguazu Falls in Argentina/Brazil. Far away from home and work, it was easy to envision doing this again, over a longer period. And so they decided to start saving and begin planning. It wasn't that simple. Amanda's career was spiraling downward. Jennifer's boyfriend of four years was not happy to hear about the plan. Holly didn't have enough money. All problems other than a mid-life crisis, which is definitely a serious problem (I'm not belittling that). And I go through a life crisis every once in a while, but there's only so much about it that I can read. These three girls supported each other and each knew that they can't make this trip with even one of them absent. 

The Lost Girls was very entertaining to read. The girls' travels and adventures were quite fun, literal and not too symbolic. It wasn't dry like reading a book from the travel section of a bookstore, nor was it philosophical enough to be a spiritual or a self-discovery read. Rather, the girls had enough fun, learned a lot from the people they met, and worried about their links back home. I didn't feel them hold back anything as they shared their worries, squabbles and dreams. Staying with the same people every day for over a year can mean fights and disagreements, which they readily admit to. For instance, Jennifer wanted them to stay away from any kind of work, because to her, the whole purpose of the trip was to get a break from work. Amanda, however, could not abstain from sending pitches to a few editors back in the States. She couldn't totally divorce herself from writing, which to her is an outlet for expression, and not work, as it is for Jennifer.

The writing is however, not stellar. I found this to be the one demerit of this book. I didn't find it an issue that three different people co-authored this book. In fact, I found their writing styles to be very similar, that I didn't have to worry about slipping from one person's perspective to another. (The chapters of the book are alternately written by the three girls.) Instead, I feel a better editing job could have been done. There are a lot of repetitions, and quite a few typos. In fact, at one point, even a religion is misspelled. Some of the dialogue felt contrived to me. I get that some must have been in place for our benefit, but it felt too obvious and forced at places. Initially, I found it amusing how matters of the toilet were foremost in their minds as they went from place to place. However, after a while, it stopped feeling that important or interesting to read about.

Overall, this has been a delightful read and has quite inspired the traveler in me. I doubt I'll ever do something as wild, but I do want to get out more often. What I most loved about this book was how strongly the personalities of the three girls laced the pages, and how very much like normal girls they were. When they visited Machu Picchu, I admit I was insanely jealous. How much I've wanted to visit that place since I read about it in my History book at school (at least there was some benefit to learning about all that in school)! And my most anticipated chapters were the ones in which the authors visited India (of course). I've always been fascinated with the outside-in perspective and found it interesting how some of their observations felt like deja-vu to me. Mostly, I loved feeling that I was a part of their group as I was reading the book, and that makes this 500-page travelogue a win for me.

I received this book for free from the publisher via TLC Book Tours.

24 comments:

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

This does sound interesting, but I can see how it would get repetitious. I think Americans must be obsessed with toilets - when we lived in France, all of our company was fascinated the toiltets there

hcmurdoch said...

This sounds like a fun one. I worry with travelogues that I'll get too much "fact" and not enough of the author. Honestly, I want fun stories, not a lot of fact/history. That's probably bad to admit, but hey, it's the truth. I am having a slow start with Travels in a Thin Country (about Chile)

Jenna (Literature and a Lens) said...

This one does sound interesting. I'm glad that the readability didn't suffer with three different narrators. Too often when multiple people contribute to a single narrative it can feel really disjointed. Great review.

Misha said...

I have always thought it would be wonderful to go off somewhere with just your closest friends. In fact some of my friends and I were fantasizing about something similar the other day. Of course, none of us would actually have the guts to do it. The book sounds like something I would definitely want to read. I am sorry that the writing is not that great. Lack of editing and typos can spoil even a good book.

Nadia said...

Aths, I'm glad you liked this book, too! I loved reading about all the places they visited and could relate to each of the women on some level. I agree with you about the writing - it wasn't the best, but it was good enough to keep me reading. Besides reading about their year of travel inspired me to start my 40 before 40 list - which I need to get cracking on. Definitely a fun book to read overall.

Young1 said...

I cannot wait to get a copy of this book :D

christa @ mental foodie said...

Sometimes I wish I could just drop everything and go travel for a year! But I'm such a planner that I doubt it'd happen...

Heather J. @ TLC said...

I understand your frustration with lots of the travel memoirs out there so I'm thrilled to see that this one broke out of that mold. I couldn't imagine doing something like this myself but it sure would be fun to read about! Thanks for being on the tour.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

 O this sounds good. Thanks for the review!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

 Sounds like a fun book -- I like the idea of it being told from all of their perspectives alternatively. 

Christina T said...

I admit that I was drawn to this book when I found out they went to India. I am glad that you liked The Lost Girls even with its flaws. I am also relieved to hear that it is not a "finding yourself" kind of book. I'd rather read about their experiences visiting all the different places and the people they met rather than a lot of inner reflection. I don't plan to ever read Eat, Pray, Love. I can't even watch the movie :) Excellent review!

Bibliophilebythesea said...

I think this is one book that I might like. I would have passed, but now will reconsider.

Athira / Aths said...

I have to say - I do find it funny. Though I fully get where it comes from and don't find it ridiculous or sad at all, I still feel that twitch when I hear of it. There's so much of that sentiment in movies and books though.

Athira / Aths said...

That's exactly my point. For facts, I could just hit google or go to trip advisor. But in books I read, I like to see more personality and fun.

Athira / Aths said...

I was very worried about the different perspectives. But I'm glad that I worried for nothing.

Athira / Aths said...

I wish I could go on a vacation like that. I did wonder briefly if I could take a year off after college, but nah, that never worked out.

Athira / Aths said...

40 before 40 sounds great! I started a Day Zero Project, which does something similar so I'm excited about it.

Athira / Aths said...

Yay!

Athira / Aths said...

Haha... Planner, that I am too. I can just see myself planning every day of my vacation for the rest of my life and never getting to it.

Athira / Aths said...

You're welcome, Heather! I'm glad that this travel memoir was different - less facts, more personality and more fun!

Athira / Aths said...

You're welcome!

Athira / Aths said...

I agree - that was a really good way to show experiences from different angles.

Athira / Aths said...

 I get what you mean. I'm not reading Eat, Pray, Love ever!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you check it out. It was fun reading about the different places.