Book Review: The Lost Girls
Pre-school, kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, college (and maybe grad school), career, marriage, kids, grandkids, and then retirement. Who hasn’t felt, at some point, like they’re on a conveyor belt and stepping off – even for a second – would forever derail their life?
Of course, if it were as easy as: girl feels lost in life, girl set out to travel, goes lots of great places and eats lots of delicious food, girl falls in love and all ends happily after after, there wouldn’t be a book. Oh wait…yes there would, only it would be called Eat, Pray, Love. This is not that book.
Instead, Holly, Jen and Amanda put themselves into sometimes uncomfortable situations, they take some wrong turns and make some bad decisions, they don’t always get along and they face some heartbreak. They don’t end up “finding themselves” but as they say, instead they learn that sometimes it’s okay to just be lost.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I could certainly relate to the girls’ feeling of being lost in life. By my mid-20’s I felt like I’d already committed to a path in life, and to deviate would mean starting all over, or at least backtracking, in my progress towards adulthood. I’m sure it’s a feeling many others have had before as well. But as I learned, and as the girls demonstrate in their book, it’s okay to change your path; it’s even okay not to have a path at all.
The book is a great beach read or a perfect travel book (despite its large and heavy hardcover size) that will help pass the hours on a plane, bus or train. It’s well written, but I wouldn’t put it in the category of fine travel literature. It’s light and frothy and fun and more about the personal journey of three friends than a detailed travelogue that explores different countries and cultures. The first few chapters can be a bit tricky. The point of view alternatives between the three friends throughout the book, and it takes some time to get acquainted with the personality of each girl (especially because there isn’t much change in tone between writers) and her unique personal situation. But after a few chapters, I had no problem keeping the girls straight in my mind and found that each one had personality elements with which I could empathize.
It was fun and entertaining to follow along with the girls as they made their way from the party hostels of Brazil to a volunteer camp in Kenya to an ashram in India to the beaches of Southeast Asia and finally to end of their journey in Australia. Along the way I got a small glimpse into the life of a traveler visiting each of those places. I also felt a bit like I was the silent fourth girl on the trip, journeying alongside my friends. Aside from the message of the book, I think what I appreciated most was the story of friendship and the way the three girls interacted, supporting and even pushing one another along their way.
While the book didn’t offer any life-changing revelations for me, I can see its message as inspiring for others. As the girls say, “there’s one thing we know for certain: uprooting our lives to take an unconventional detour was one of the most challenging things we ever did, but the experiences taught us that getting lost isn’t something to avoid, but to embrace. The only leaps of faith you’ll ever regret are the ones you don’t take.”
Read our How I Travel interview with Lost Girl Amanda Pressner , read Ten Reasons to Take a Career Break and Travel, read Why It’s Not Crazy for Working Professionals to Quit Their Jobs and Travel the World, or start planning your own round-the-world trip or career-break.