4 out of 4 stars
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It was decided in college that the young men would take yearly trips that would challenge them physically and allow them to experience new foods, new countries and new scenery. These trips ended up being called Man Missions but became so much more as time past.
The first year that man mission took place only two of the men went. Without much preparation they took off on a long hike on Harper's Pass Trail in South Island, New Zealand. After being scared by cows, and a sprained ankle, the trip ends with one person in the back of a drug dealers pick up truck and the other insisting he was going to finish the trail. Thank goodness the next year their friend Daniel organized the trip and made sure everyone was prepared. As the trips evolve so do the lives of the 4 friends. There are job changes, marriages and the birth of their children taking them further and further away from the care free days of college. Their trips included travels from New Zealand to Thailand to Hawaii. Each trip pushed each man to their limits. They may have kayaked, biked or hiked along the trails. They made new friends, ate exotic foods and reflected on where life was taking them. These were friends for life and the trips made them bond in a way that regular life would not allow.
Man Mission is so much more than a travel memoir. It is a journey through life that we all take, wondering what our next step will be. The men experienced life as we all do and faced many challenges along the way.
This was a very well written and very thought out story. Ethyan Uliel did an excellent job of switching perspectives from the travel itself to the thoughts of the main character. As you read, you can see that Ethyan Uliel correlated the travel experience to the experiences of the main characters life. For example, at one point the main character is caught in a whirlpool along the river they were rafting down. Later in his thoughts he was thinks about the whirlpool of his life. Doing the same things each day and never feeling satisfied. They were cooking lobster one night and putting the animals in hot boiling water. At the same time the main character's company was laying off people...putting them at the end of their career in the company. It really is brilliant and thought provoking.
Man mission is entertaining, funny at times, educational and very insightful about the ups and downs of life. There really isn't anything that I can say negative about this book. It was very well editing and there was mild profanity. I think this book can be enjoyed by all ages from young adult to senior citizen. I also think this would be an amazing book club book. For those reasons, I am rating this story a 4 out of 4.
Man Mission takes us on a journey through beautiful countries and cultures, but it also takes us on a journey through life.
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