Journalist Sovich’s first book details her travels to Africa in search of adventure.
The author’s story—though not the book—begins with her childhood with a mother who traveled, Sovich believed, to escape her suburban Connecticut life. When the author found herself living in Paris with her husband, working a hated job and uncomfortable with her role, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Instead of a short getaway, her trip to Africa was a desperate attempt to reconnect to her youth and be transformed into someone else. That trip was the first of three that make up this memoir. While spending as little money as possible and traveling rapidly, she often put herself in significant danger and missed what she went to experience. When Sovich decided to fly home midjourney, her husband labeled her travel style perfectly: martyrdom. He also told her to return to Africa and make her trip to Timbuktu the right way, and she listened. With experience to guide her, Sovich set out to experience the road to Timbuktu in an open, engaged way. Her descriptions of the West African countries she visited are engrossing. She captures a welcoming and friendly attitude she missed on her first trip and paints a picture of immersing herself in the lives of the people around her. Unfortunately, many of the lessons Sovich claimed to have learned don’t stick during the second trip, making her sound somewhat immature. The third trip feels confusing and unnecessary, with little to add to the narrative. Her aha-moment, supposedly reached with new insight from her travels, is described in so little detail that it seems incongruous and ill-considered rather than inspired and enlightened.
While her stories are moving and the scenery is as beautifully caught as with a camera, Sovich reaches for spiritual life lessons that fail to ring true.