Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review: You Can't Get There from Here by Gayle Forman

You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World
You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of  a Shrinking World
by Gayle Forman

Goodreads Link:


Recommended to me by: Gayle Forman mentioned it in her website's FAQ section
Recommended for: wanderlust daydreamers & travel lovers
I read this from Oct 1 to Oct 21, 2014

You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World by Gayle Forman is a tough book for me to review: I really enjoyed it and found most of it fascinating; however, it took me a long time to get through, longer than most fiction novels take, anyway.

This was most likely because the writing in You Can't Get There from Here was a bit too conversational and article-ready. When I read Forman's Just One Day and Just One Year, the writing was divine and the plot was meticulously-planned. But that is the biggest benefit of writing fiction: the author has the ability to manipulate the story, setting, characters however she pleases to make the story more appealing.

On the other hand, though, in non-fiction, the author is expected to "tell it like it is," and sometimes, as is the case in this book, the experience is not very well designed and perfectly worded because it was reported honestly. Kudos to Forman for staying true to her journalist roots; however, some times I wanted to skim through certain sections, but I couldn't do it for fear of missing out on something important. Some of Forman's sections were more like he said/she said lists with some statistical data and relationship drama thrown in for good measure.

And so much of this book was about individual people, and even more than that, as the title implies, individual people who exist on the fringes of society. I, personally, tend to obsess over traditional cultural experiences abroad: the food, the historical sites, the festivals and holidays. Unfortunately, I am more of an ethnographer than a journalist: I'm not looking to discover a unique story, but rather to observe the stories that have exists in the same way for centuries. For this reason, I found myself wishing some of Forman's stories had been about the more traditional societal cultures of these far-off places, in addition to those stories from the fringes. For example, she goes to India, but her whole experience is reported from a Bollywood movie set. And while Bollywood is uniquely Indian, it didn't seem like the India I was hoping to explore. It was too niche-specific.

I still really enjoyed the stories that she included - they were fascinating and different that anything I had read about before (except the Bollywood part - I read about that in Just One Year, & I can definitely see what inspired that scene). But I only wished that she had broadened her frame a bit more - included the unique and niche-specific anecdotes alongside the traditional and culturally historical stories.

It is definitely worth the read,though, and I particularly enjoyed escaping my mundane routine for a little atypical adventure. It was a fun escape, and I learned about a lot of unique groups whom I wouldn't have otherwise known existed without this book. I recommend that you get yourself a copy and escape to these far-off places because most of us will never get to experience events like the ones in this book.

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