I realize that a part of me must also have been implanted somewhere along the way with the kind of curiosity inherent in people who ultimately stuff all their worldly possessions into a backpack and disappear for months at a time. What happens when we lose the things that anchor us? What if, instead of grasping at something to hold on to, we pull up our roots and walk away? Instead of trying to find the way back, we walk deeper and deeper into the woods, willing ourselves to get lost. In this place where nothing is recognizable, not the people or the language or the food, we are truly on our own. Eventually, we find ourselves unencumbered by the past or the future. Here is a fleeting glimpse of our truest self, our self in the present moment. After that, maybe we can finally go home–or maybe not.
The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost just might be my favorite travel memoir. I identified so strongly with Rachel – a perfectionist young woman who is tired of caring so much about pleasing other people and finds peace and self-confidence in traveling. I loved reading about her adventures throughout Ireland, Australia, and South America. She starts with Big Red, an enormous suitcase, and ends with a backpack. She starts by running away, and ends by running forward. She starts with a lot of questions and…she ends with a lot of questions! But they are different questions, deeper, more personal, and more important.
Reading Friedman’s book reminded me of all the reasons I love traveling so much. Her descriptions of the places she visits are vivid, and I was left with three new destinations on my “Must See” mental list. But undoubtedly, the strength of her memoir is in her reflections and how she interprets her experiences. She discusses privilege, fear, and self-acceptance, and I definitely finished the book richer because of her honesty.
I hope she writes something else, because Rachel Friedman just jumped to the top of my favorite travel writers.
Rachel Friedman has always been the consummate good girl who does well in school and plays it safe, so the college grad surprises no one more than herself when, on a whim (and in an effort to escape impending life decisions), she buys a ticket to Ireland, a place she has never visited. There she forms an unlikely bond with a free-spirited Australian girl, a born adventurer who spurs Rachel on to a yearlong odyssey that takes her to three continents, fills her life with newfound friends, and gives birth to a previously unrealized passion for adventure.
As her journey takes her to Australia and South America, Rachel discovers and embraces her love of travel, unlocking more truths about herself than she ever realized she was seeking. Along the way, the erstwhile good girl finally learns to do something she’s never done before: simply live for the moment.
Release Date: March 2011