4 out of 4 stars
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I ordinarily take notes on a good book while I'm reading but I was more than willing to put my pen down and just read through this one. Before I began reading, I went over the summary and concluded that the book would be a collection of testosterone-driven escapades in the wild outdoors. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that I was mostly wrong.
Even though there is enough hardy roughhousing to keep any thrill seeking reader far from bored, there is also love, drama, comedy, and the honest and shocking reality of what it means to be a man in a man's world. Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is the story of four college friends who discover themselves and each other in a series of exotic trips.
The entire plot is narrated from the perspective of one of the four men. His storytelling flits back and forth between their adventures abroad (which he and his friends call Man Missions) and their normal, private lives back home. As the four men grow older, start families and begin to pursue wealth and success, the Man Mission trips become something special and scared to each of them.
It was gripping and entertaining in the first few chapters, although I felt the narrative begin to lag towards the end. The one thing that kept me flipping pages was undoubtedly the development and profound reflections of the narrator.
At first, the author shares intricate details that give the reader insight into the lives of each character, but by the time the story reaches Part Two there is a lack of emphasis on the lives of other characters and the main focus rests on the narrator's dilemmas as a husband as well as his increasing lack of satisfaction with himself.
The narrator's personal struggles with identity and responsibility were more than enough to keep me fascinated as a reader, but I felt a little jealous of what I imagine would have been a more intricate read if the author had delved deeper into the lives of the other three men.
That said, there were generous amounts of wisdom as the protagonist reflected on his life choices. In Part Two, for example, where he comments on his work life saying:
"Where once I had been filled with ambition and ideals, I was fast becoming jaded, worn out, and plain old bored… obscurity was not what I'd signed up for."
His words made me think of my career plans, and if in the long run the pursuit of money is equal to the pursuit of happiness.
Overall the story was powerfully built, the development of each character was fascinating, and it was refreshing to read such a thoroughly masculine approach to self discovery through adventure and brotherhood, as opposed to self discovery through romance or tragedy.
I would definitely read again and I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure, comedy, philosophy, and good food. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars and I would advise that you stay away from Man Mission by Eytan Uliel if you cannot tolerate strong language or sexual content.
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