4 out of 4 stars
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Eytan Uliel’s Man Mission: Four Men, Fifteen Years, One Epic Journey is a chronicle of four men's' journeys to adulthood. They go on an annual expedition to explore an exotic place, whether it be hiking up a mountain purely by foot, or climbing up glaciers with ice picks. Each event brings joy, humility, enlightenment, and an interesting story to tell at the next party. Even though many times they face injury, they continue their trek to become a manlier version on themselves than they can be in their daily life and to keep from wearing the humiliating pink bracelet.
In the time between these annual, extravagant adventures, the four of them grow from freshly graduated students to full-time parents. They each fall in love, get married, and have kids. They also fall out of love, break down, go to therapy, and slowly realize how harsh society can be. Through the stress of their lives, they use the yearly Man Mission to escape their problems for a week and truly free themselves of all the stress that has built upon them.
This book tells a wild story and truly engages the audience through dramatic pauses, tension, and interesting back and forth storytelling. Each chapter, a new year and a new adventure. It is constantly changing from the present to flashbacks depicting what had happened in all the time in between. Although I was a bit hesitant on this formatting, Uliel does it well and it keeps each chapter interesting. This was my favorite part of reading the book, the constant back and forth in each chapter.
The part I disliked most was the hypermasculinity in the book. Towards the end, they face the realities of how wrong this idea is, but in most of the book, they constantly go back to the fact that men should act stereotypically ‘masculine,’ meaning they should hike and hunt, while all the women do the housework. In the book, they have the Pink Bracelet, which they give to the man who acts the least ‘manly’. I don’t particularly like this idea because it reinstates the idea that men should keep their feelings hidden, even when they are in extreme pain or are feeling immense grief. I do, however, like the realization aspect of the book, when they learn that their women should not be taken for granted and left to do all the chores and cooking.
Although this book is extremely good, I can only recommend it to readers over the age of 15 because there is constant cussing in the book and very open talks about sex and male genitalia. Overall, I would give this book a perfect 4 out of 4 stars. It is very well edited, with only a few minor errors here and there, and the overall ending message is very wholesome and well set up. The plot is well developed, and the story is told wonderfully.
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