Thursday, December 27, 2018

Memoir Review: The Lost Girls

The last book I read for Nonfiction November (though I finished it in December) was another one that had been on my bookcase for a very long time. It was published in 2010, so I figured it had "aged" enough to finally tackle it! As always, I don't know why I waited so long - I thoroughly enjoyed reading all 500+ pages of The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World, a three-way memoir by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner. The three women in their late twenties chronicle the almost-year they spent traveling around the world together.

Chapters alternate between the perspectives of the three authors, and Chapter One actually begins about two years before the actual round-the-world trip when the three of them were on vacation in South America together and made the decision to take the "big trip." At the time, two of them worked for the same women's magazine as writers/editors, and the other worked in television. They had a hard enough time just taking a short vacation (many co-workers told them it wasn't worth the backlog of work they'd return to); taking a full-year sabbatical from their careers seemed crazy. But they dove in and committed to the concept, and found themselves, two years later, heading back to South America to begin a trip around the world, giant backpacks slung on their backs. Yes, as young women early in their careers, this was not to be a luxury tour, but a bare bones classic global backpacking experience, staying mostly in hostels and sticking to a budget. Each chapter of the book explores in detail the place they were visiting, from Peru to Kenya to Laos to Australia, with many other stops along the way, but this isn't just a travelogue. Each woman's chapter, both at home and later, on the road, gives some insight into her own personality, relationships, goals, and life. In this way, they highlight not only what they saw and did but also how the trip changed them, and the impact it had on each of them and their relationships with each other, too (spoiler: the trip made them dedicated lifelong friends).

I really loved this book, both for its armchair-traveler appeal and for the same reason I like all memoirs: the personal made universal. It was of particular interest to me since I am also a freelance writer, working with magazines some of the time and doing some travel writing (one of the women was a freelancer by the time they took the trip), so the inside view of the publishing world was fascinating to me. When it comes to travel, each of them really digs into the details of the trip - what they did, who they met, what they ate (an essential aspect of travel for me!), and wonderful descriptions of the exotic locales. They include everything - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and are honest about each of their low moments, as well as the life-altering highlights. I love to travel but rarely have a chance to leave the U.S., so I loved reading about their adventures. My favorite part of the trip was the month that they volunteered at a girls' school in Kenya, with the relationships they made there, and the impact they had on the young girls they interacted with. All three of them are excellent writers, with engaging narratives in a personal essay-type style. Although the book is fairly long at more than 500 pages, it easily kept my attention, and I got to know each of the women and appreciate the way the three different perspectives were woven together. I know I couldn't even begin to handle a trip like they took with my health problems, but they certainly gave me the travel bug, and I am ready to explore!

525 pages, Harper

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  1. This sounds like a good mix of travel and friendship. My cousin is currently on a one-year around the world trip and I've been having fun reading her blog.

    1. Oh, wow - so cool! Hope she enjoys it - sounds like an amazing experience!

  2. If I'm honest, I'm a little nervous about picking up travelogues for fear they'll just make me jealous, but this sounds like a fun one! I'm definitely tempted :)

    1. I think you'll be OK with this one - yes, they saw some amazing places, but they sure had some challenges, too!! lol