London: Maybe it`s an age thing. But do packed bookshelves really need another travelogue-cum-memoir written by a middle-class, white American young woman who is trying to find herself?
Granted, Rachel Friedman`s trips to Ireland, Australia and South America are moderately interesting, and the author seems genuinely sweet and likable, but she treads no new ground in "The Good Girl`s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure." Yes, traveling on a tiny budget is tiring, challenging and sometimes scary. Yes, hostels can be dirty, new friends are often temporary and locals may try to rip you off.
Friedman is just 20 when her "adventure" begins, so maybe she deserves a wider berth. Her memoir would be a valuable gift to a teenager or a young woman getting ready to graduate from college.
She provides laudable role models and excellent advice about facing your demons before settling in for your "real life." She also raises important questions about priorities both in the U.S. and abroad and that so-called "real life" and what one often gives up to get it.
Her writing is funny, sprightly and highly engaging. Her descriptions of the places she goes and the people she meets are solid enough for campfire retelling. But when Friedman tries to get reflective, she comes off sounding trite. Her concluding thoughts about her post-adventure self: "In this new place, I could hear the whispering voice inside my head growing louder ... telling me to live my life without fear or worry or doubt that nothing was going according to plan, as though such a plan ever existed in the first place."
Maybe it`s an age thing.