4 out of 4 stars
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As someone who loves to travel, I was immediately drawn to Man Mission by Eytan Uliel. Any novel that takes me to 15 different exotic locations will automatically go on my “to-read” shelf. With echoes of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, it touches on an array of emotions ranging from love, sadness, confusion, anger, humor, and acceptance. At its most simple, Man Mission is about a group of close friends who take a yearly vacation together to show off their manly sides. At its heart, Man Mission has a complex plotline full of soul searching and insightful moments between a group of best friends navigating life together.
We meet Sam, Dan, Alec and Eytan as idealistic young men eager to make their mark on the world. Living in New Zealand, they each begin down the expected path laid out for them since their university graduation, which includes career, wife, house, and kids. Thus begins their yearly vacations to get away from the mundane and live extraordinarily, even if just for one week a year. As life (and their “man missions”) continue, the group of friends faces illness, death, infidelity, divorce and many other life-changing situations. Each trip brings new life lessons as the young men take the time to do some soul searching in the exotic locales. As they grow older and less happy with their chosen paths, their vacations become more and more critical to their growth and happiness.
The author does a fantastic job weaving together multiple storylines and timelines with the descriptive language of the various vacations. Told from Eytan’s point of view, we learn the most about his life, jumping from the present during each excursion to individual moments in time, usually from the previous year. Pulling in important, life-changing events (however small), we begin to see Eytan’s internal struggle with his chosen path in life. An unfulfilling career seems to be at the heart of the issue. He works incredibly long hours to provide for his family but doesn’t get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. This novel follows Eytan’s storyline closely as he pieces together his life to find true happiness.
I absolutely loved every one of their “man missions.” From Hawaii to Taiwan, they embarked on epoch excursions during each vacation. The author’s descriptions of each location were so well done. I could picture every trip, and now I want to plan a series of getaways with my friends. I felt like I was kayaking, hiking, or riding through each vacation with those guys because the language was so wonderfully descriptive. The vacations alone would have made a great read, but as a bonus, we get the complex, emotional journeys of four men.
I couldn’t find anything to dislike about Man Mission. It had everything I usually look for in a novel - complex storyline plus adventures with a slight love story. I found all of the characters to be likable and the story entirely believable. I did not find any grammar mistakes which can often detract from the book. Therefore, I rate Man Mission 4 out of 4 stars.
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