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Dear Thailand: A Love Story is the story of author Diane de Simone’s transformative self-journey in Thailand. It covers her original visit of one month, return to the United States, and the almost immediate decision to leave her old life behind and move to Thailand. It takes the reader through the powerful spiritual and personal growth which Simone experiences there, and in doing so gives quite a bit of insight into both Thai culture and Buddhism.
The book begins as a story of personal change, with a telling of a daughter’s reconnecting with her aging father on foreign soil. Freeing him from the retirement home where he’s been slowly fading, the two cut their ties with their old life and move to a small village in Thailand.
But the story soon changes and, true to its name, shows the story of the author’s love for a culture and a people far removed from those to which Simone had become accustomed to. It joins her as she explores cultural identities, questions fundamental ideas of her Western upbringing, and finds dear friends to help her navigate the storm of confusion and fears encountered on the journey.
What is perhaps most striking about Dear Thailand is the writing itself. Crafted in an initially somewhat jarring style, Simone vividly describes her adoptive home in a way that is almost poetic. Read in a peaceful place and receptive state of mind, the passages (patterned as letter addressed to- well, I’ll let you work that one out on your own) seem almost to sing. Secondhand, but with little value lost along the way, you experience the culture, religion, and way of life in a small and tight-knit Thai village. It’s refreshing and beautiful, and it left me wanting to jump on a plane and see it - experience it - for myself.
The book does, toward the end, begin to feel a little preachy. Though these passages are light-handed, I can see how some Westerners may be turned off somewhat. I would, however, recommend this book to anyone in need of a spiritual vacation. This story of a visit, an escape, and ultimately a homecoming asks the reader only to listen as it tells of peace, stillness, and a light, kind heart. I give this book 4 stars out of 4.
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Thank you and congratulations to the author on the great review!
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