Beach reads are often a challenge for me. You have to find a book that's going to be so good you can't put it down, light enough you don't feel like its work or get sent into a tailspin of depression, and relevant and meaningful enough that it's worth the time. Well, I found one meeting all three requirements and finished it in a day and a half.
This memoir (my go-to genre) is a fast, engaging read from an author who is totally funny and totally relatable if you fall into the "No way I'm getting married in my 20s and I'm not just saying that because I haven't found anyone yet" category and/or the "Having a family in your 20s sounds like the biggest nightmare I could possibly dream up right now" category and/or the "I just want to travel all over and have a freakin' blast" category. And I happen to fall a little bit into all three.
Sitcom writer Kristen Newman spends each chapter telling a tale of one of her many multiple-week-long international trips, often solo and rarely without romps around beaches or mountain towns with sexy looking foreigners. She says she's filling her time while her friends are busy making babies, but once she gets to the back half of the book you realize she's doing a lot more than that.
Inspiring me to not ignore my desire to someday travel solo, to see as many places as possible, to jump on a plane and go even if you're scared, to trust the process: in not planning everything, not controlling everything, not seeking anything too specific, this girl does what many of us haven't and probably (sadly) won't.
I'll go ahead and join the others who are calling this the Eat Pray Love of our generation, but be warned there's a lot less yoga and a whole lot more hooking up going on. That, along with her Hollywood-writer-sized travel budget and unlimited time off, is really the only part that felt unrelatable and possibly exaggerated to me, but her honesty and forthright means of sharing is incredibly touching and truthful. I haven't read another author who makes me feel totally normal for not wanting a registry, a white dress or a drawer full of pacifiers anytime soon, while also acknowledging that wanting that eventually isn't bad either.
I always end up judging a book by how it makes me feel at the end and this one did all the right things: Made me actually think about the pain points and revelations, made me happy with the resolutions, and made me sad that it ended. I don't like letting go of characters (I never have, it's why I like tv better than movies) and by the end of page 290 I didn't want Kristin to go, I wanted to be her friend.