My rating: 2 of 5 stars
As usual, I received this book for nothing as part of a GoodReads drawing. Despite that kind consideration, my candid thoughts follow.
Our author has traveled far and wide and spent time in some amazing and complex parts of the world. In this book she shares some of her memories, observations and experiences from those far-flung climes.
So, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m having a bit of trouble writing about this one. Clearly the author has spent a large portion of her life helping out some very deserving people and contributing positively to the world at large. She’s put herself in harms way all for the benefit of those who are less fortunate and denied herself many of the things we all take for granted. Ms. Dargis is a stand-up person, let there be no doubt.
However, I’m forced to say that this book is just doesn’t work. First of all, it’s incredibly choppy and meandering. One minute she’s off in some third world country and the next she’s back home dating guys off the internet that just aren’t up to her standards. Then she’s back in yet another country and her multi-year stay boils down to a 4-page chapter that’s really only two randomly selected anecdotes. There may be 2-3 wonderful books to be written around this material. Heck, there may be 10 books to be written but you can’t just take bits and pieces from all of them and mash them together and expect to get a good book. Pick a topic and stay on it.
Secondly, the author comes across as very self-promoting as she goes on about how uncomfortable she was at times, how much pain she was in, how hard she worked or how much she’s given up to do this work. I’m absolutely certain that all of those things are true. I have no doubt whatsoever about her sacrifice but it does come across as rather anti-heroic to talk about it. And, when she’s not suffering from others, she’s making a ton of money in the stock market. During one passage she goes on at length about how successful her stock portfolio was and that even professional stock brokers were were astonished and asking her how she did it. I had to stare in mystified disbelief at this passage and fathom what on earth it could have to do with what I presumed to be the premise of the book.
In summary, I’m sure the author is a wonderful person but this sure is not a wonderful book. She’s had some wonderful experiences in her life and I would hate to be seen as discouraging but this book needs some structure and some guidance and most of all some focus.
PS: I’ve written negative reviews in the past so I’m prepared for the likely onslaught of nit-picking and bile that is sure to ensue. Don’t bother. If everyone just wrote positive reviews then what possible point would there be to reviewing anything? One man’s opinion. Just chill out.