4 out of 4 stars
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The stories of Man Mission are a big part of my life. They are a big part of my friends and their families too. It's an infinite multitude of stories that intertwine, overlap, and make us all a part of each other. Seated silently: I watch Alec and Sam talking animatedly with my parents, Sarah, Pamela, and Evie arranging lunch with Natalia, Daniel and the boys trying to fix the barbecue stand, and the girls chatting away. These treasured moments took me back to the day I met Sam. Alec and Daniel, my friends since kindergarten, were sobering themselves when Sam volunteered to go to the Food Fair. I was a judgmental ass when I finally found someone who understood me. Looking back, it's interesting how my outlandish fantasy brought us this far. For the past fifteen years, we had our annual getaways to cast off the realities in life and do something hard and physical, outside of our comfort zone. We camped and lived rough, played and laughed, didn’t wash or shave, and ate lots of steak. The magic of Man Mission is that in doing these things, allowing myself to behave like a little boy, I have gone my way to learn what it means to be a man.
Eytan Uliel brings four different personalities together under a common interest: Man Mission. A 362 pages read that explores 15 Man Mission episodes held in different countries. It comprises a detailed map illustration about their explorations, a Man Mission charter, an epilogue titled, Home, and 15 chapters divided into 3 parts: Beginning, Middle, and End. Written in the first person's perspective, this is ideal for readers interested in action-packed, comical, and philosophical reads.
The environmental setting takes us to different countries: New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Fiji, Spain, Thailand, South Korea, Hawaii, South Africa, Iceland, Vietnam, Peru, and Taiwan. This is a masculine read with a prime focus toward a male's perspective about life, responsibilities, family, work, and leisure. Man Mission activities involve hiking, cycling, kayaking, trekking, and paddling. The List of Contents provide the locations to the 15 Man Mission episodes that took place across 15 years.
This isn't a gender bias read which anyone can enjoy. It provides a commendable 360 outlook from a male's perspective. The structure was very descriptive and detailed maintaining an easy flow. Uliel used a casual dialog tone, and colloquial language exposing a relatable feeling to his readers. Every chapter was an adventurous page-turner providing vital statistics after concluding each journey. The main plot entwined with a subplot provides an inside out exposure about its characters' personal lives. There were humorous and disturbing moments which sensitive readers should be aware of, such as: committing euthanasia and bull piercing.
It's evident that Uliel was comfortable with his work. He provided a wider access to cultural diversity which was delightful. Leaving me excited and anticipated, the protagonist, Charlie Brown, was anonymous till the end of third chapter. Charlie is a nerdier, bookish character while Alec, a ladies-man, is a carefree type of guy. Daniel, an organizing machine who's responsible and reliable while Sam is a smart and erudite kind of guy. Uliel provides a multi-dimensional, step-by-step, view on their personality development as graduates, employees, husbands, fathers, and middle-aged men. They were characters with flaws making them realistic and relatable.
It was insightful, and at times comical, to understand the role of a new husband, and a father handling unfamiliar situations. Readers can experience an emotional love-hate relationship with this book. I like the realistic touch which readers can lively experience. Statements that kick the reality of life are a common aspect throughout this read, such as:
Being a prime witness throughout Charlie's life helped me to view and understand from a man's perspective, offering me an unique experience. This is a debatable plot which highly deserves 4 out of 4 stars....personal freedom, the price to be paid for material security. Sacrifice in the name of family and career had become a new reality for all of us.(Chap 7, p.150).
As a tired, middle-aged man I realized, for now, I’m happy. I’ve traveled a long way to be here, and my mission today is simple: to live in the present moment, enjoying happiness with my loved ones. Right here, now, my story has a happy ending: a satisfying ending.
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