4 out of 4 stars
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Man Mission by Eytan Uliel is a travel adventure story. Four college friends decide to have an annual men’s trip. The narrator, Alec, Daniel and Sam, take it upon themselves to take time to unwind on men-only trips, which they term Man Missions. At first there are only two members, the narrator and Sam. They choose exotic locations where they get to test their own limits. This goes on for fifteen years, during which time they marry, have children, suffer the loss of loved ones, and go through different marital issues.
The story is written in first person as it is narrated through the eyes of one of these four men. The narrator is not given a name; I assume that he has to take on the author’s name. There is nothing to suggest that the author based this character on himself, thus my assumption is based on the fact that the narration is in first person and the author did not bother to name the narrator. Each chapter begins with two quotes laden with meaning. Each chapter ends with a summary of the Man Mission.
As much as this is meant to be an adventure story, it is a story about life itself. These four men are on a quest to find meaning in their lives. As they take time to behave like children again on their trips, they ponder what it means to be a man. The rules that they set up for themselves and the extremes they mark to achieve have a lot to do with what they think a man should be. The rules show that their idea of a man has a lot to do with physical strength and endurance.
The mistakes and lessons they learn as they grow change their perspectives on a lot of issues. “He who whines the loudest gets to wear the pink bracelet.” This has a lot to do with the facades they put on in their real lives. They are men, thus they do not want to show any weakness and have to pretend that everything is okay. They later realize that bottled feelings can erupt and cause unthinkable destruction. They realize that they never learnt what it is to truly communicate. Their inability to communicate what really matters with their spouses results in broken relationships. The stories concerning their relationships are one-sided because the reader only gets to learn the man’s point of view, but there are still a lot of lessons there.
The characters frequently use strong language. I suppose this is what makes it “men talk”, but that is one thing that I did not like. I also did not enjoy the part where the men celebrate Alec’s new business and start describing the sexual appeal of Alec’s secretary. It is possibly a “men thing”, but as a female working in a male dominated environment, it is just not good to think that men still think that way in a professional environment. Other than that, the author wrote well. His writing style is great; he managed to make me laugh here and there. The book seems to be professionally edited. I only found one subjective error and two grammatical errors.
I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. It is an entertaining book. It also gives a glimpse into the challenges facing the modern day man. It addresses the question, “What is a man?” I recommend the book to those interested in adventure and travel. I also recommend it to married or soon to be married couples. I believe one can learn why some relationships fail and avoid such things. All in all, it is an enjoyable read.
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