4 out of 4 stars
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MAN MISSION by Eytan Uliel
Who would have ever think a silly college thought would blossom to a perfectly, fully woven journey of 15 years as 4 men take on different locations: biking, hiking, and kayaking their way through the world. Man Mission is more than a story of traveling across continents doing dangerous "manly" things, or having a taste of exotic meals, it is so much more about growing up and self discovery in a world where it seems everything is discovered for you as a man already.
The man missions starts off at New Zealand with the two initial founder of the adventures Sam and the unnamed main character, looking for a desperate break from the stress of work. Like every other Man Mission statistics would show, an unfortunate incident happens and the mission has to end to be continued next year and 13 more years to come. In the midst of every adventure is a journey back home, usually through flashback where the stories of the lives of these men are told. The drama of marriage and raising a family as well as career growth. They all face challenges in several forms, survive and have a happy ending.
Also, Eytan Uliel depicts masculinity in the light of unwavering strength as a man (even if it is a facade) the pressing need to be financially stable at the expense of getting emotionally starved, bottling up feelings, and trying just not to earn a pink bracelet for being a whiny. He also paints the not very represented version of masculinity which includes needing reassurance and validation like every other human.
Talking about the book without referring to man's connection with nature would be doing it injustice as the author creates beautiful pictures of locations in reader's mind with the poignant use of imagery, it is easy to see the 4 men shivering in the sight of primal raw energy in the Savannah, the awe in their faces with the sighting of the northern lights, euphoria of diving over hills and mountains, and the goose bumps on their arms as they come out of shark infested rivers.
The book, written in 10 chapters, is a simultaneous play of visiting locations as well as revealing what drama is happening at home. The plot is straight forward even with the use of flash back and at many points in the story, the atmosphere, dialogue and mood creates a deep sense of what the characters are experiencing. The writer ends each chapter with a *log book" of which includes: destination, mode of transportation, injuries sustained etc. There also includes a quote and Bible verse for each journey which seeks to describe the situation of things at that particular point in the story.
The thing I liked most about the book is that the author firmly debunks the cagey and restricting ideas of masculinity. Men like every other humans have moments of weaknesses, they need validation, they cry and need shoulders to lean on. While the thing I liked least about the book was the little development of the female characters, they are more portrayed in the light of the men's stories, however, this is just understandable. As the title implies, it is a man mission.
Also, the book has a lot of vulgar words and if you're the type to wince at every "f", "p" or "d" word, perhaps you should not flip the pages. The book is exceptionally well edited as I did not notice any typos or grammatical errors while reading the story. Therefore I rate this book a 4 out of 4 Stars as it was a flawless rendition of 15 years of living and journeying.
I recommend this book to people who like traveling (it gives a lot of ideas for traveling), and also to everyone in general as the world has to start, and continue thinking of harm done to men by forcing them into cages of " this is what you have to or not have to be."
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