4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is a delicious combination of coming-of-age, male bonding, and peeking into your brother’s diary. Written in first person point of view, Uliel alternates between describing his fifteen extravagant trips with what is going on in his everyday life.
Beginning with his years in law school and that peculiar friendship called “college buds”, the author takes us on a near-fantasy journey through their first Man Mission, a wild and crazy trek through Harper’s Path in New Zealand. His vivid description of the surroundings, the people who live there, and the circumstances they find themselves in drew me in such that I didn’t want to put the book down.
And it just gets better from there. The book is flawlessly edited, so I wasn’t distracted by thinking I could have worded it better. And the trips get better. They make a few more rules the group must abide by, and the introduction of the Pink Bracelet for whining is priceless.
The maps at the beginning of each chapter are a nice touch, although I’ll admit that I wanted to read the next adventure so badly that I skipped the graphics. The summary at the end of each chapter was ideal, and provided a sense of closure and introspection to each adventure and each segment of his life. Several times, his experiences caused me to ponder and wonder what I might have done in that situation.
I think the best written adventure was the one on the Machu Picchu Trail in Peru. Having been in that country twice in the last two years, I was right there with him, even though I’ve never actually done the trail. However, I know a guide who works it, and I know a tourist who hiked it, and combined with my experience in the area, he was spot on.
There were bittersweet moments, happy moments, downright hilarious moments, laugh-at-yourself moments, and times of tears. Most books don’t move me emotionally to that degree between extreme ups and downs, but I went right along with him through his trials and troubles with relationships and work, and through his triumphs in his personal life and his completion of the Man Missions.
I think the best part of this book was the descriptions of the trips they took, evoking a sense of being there with them, experiencing the wind in my face, the water down the back of my neck, and the sense of awe at overcoming his fears and doing what he never thought he could.
For me, the least favorite part of the book, apart from the liberal sprinkling of what I consider to be unnecessary profanity from one of the friends in particular, but used on occasion by all the characters, was the fact that it ended after only fifteen Man Missions. I could have gone on reading.
Overall, this book was exceptionally well done, is well worth the read, and I highly recommend it. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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