Despite the exotic setting, the real jewels are the glimpses of a determined narrator who is not afraid to take the lead...

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RIDING THE ASIAN DRAGON

EXTRAORDINARY LIVES OF ORDINARY PEOPLE

A female backpacker describes her solo adventures traveling through Asia in this densely packed debut memoir.

While planning a yearlong sabbatical, Boulet was unexpectedly laid off from her job in Great Britain. She decided to skip some of her trip preparations, including learning basic Chinese, so she could start her round-the-world trip less than a week later. After a month in South America, she moved on to Asia, the memoir’s focus. Traveling through Hong Kong, China, Tibet, Mongolia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, Boulet sought out remote areas unspoiled by tourism. To save money she stayed in huts, family homes, hostels and run-down hotels and traveled spontaneously via a mixture of trains, buses and private vehicles. Surprisingly, it was her transportation choices that proved to be the most dangerous aspects of her trip. Throughout the book, Boulet focuses on her connections with fellow travelers and locals. A Tibetan man merits his own chapter, and a few others appear in the epilogue, but most are brief, one-time episodes. Even shocking encounters, such as a monk who asked her to take a 4-year-old to India so he can have an education, merit a single paragraph. The summarized conversations, along with a penchant for passive voice and a huge volume of detail on every tiny village and temple, make for dense, slow reading. Luckily, Boulet is livelier than her writing. She bravely hiked to the Mount Everest base camp in adverse conditions. She agreed to drive a motorcycle for the first time—at night on Cambodian roads filled with cows, chickens and enormous potholes. She showed ingenuity when she ran short of money in Laos, and compassion when she helped a young postcard vendor.

Despite the exotic setting, the real jewels are the glimpses of a determined narrator who is not afraid to take the lead role in her astonishing adventures.

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463779764

Page Count: 265

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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