4 out of 4 stars
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A Song by David Turner is the story of James “Jim” Turner. Born and raised in Australia, Jim had an ordinary life. A typical childhood but with a stroke of tragedy; then, moving out of his town to chase his dreams; falling in love and starting a family; and then, unfortunately, letting go of the marriage. One would think that this is where his story ends, but in reality, this is where it all begins. Once he found himself free of all the strings that held him to Australia, Jim packed his bags, picked up his camera and left. His journey took him to all the exotic, conventional, modern, and ancient corners of the world.
This book is Jim’s detailed travelogue. All the places he called home, all the people he called friends, all the food he savoured, and all the things he did; everything, good and bad, is described meticulously and beautifully. The writer wove Jim’s experiences along with the history of the places he visited and the backstory of the people he met. So, while we get to wanderlust on Jim’s adventures, we also get to know about things we might have never heard of before. In this sense, the book was as educational as it was entertaining. While there are shades of the themes of family, passion, life, love, youth, etc., for me, the theme of exploration shone the brightest.
The writing style was the strongest point of A Song. Had the writer chosen to write it differently, perhaps, it wouldn’t have worked out as good as it did now. The writing was impeccable. Writers, these days, have adopted the way of chalking out the whole book in the form of a conversation. This way, it seems more of a play than a novel. A Song goes back to being a proper book. It focuses more on telling the story than playing out the scenes. The descriptions are enchanting. Be it the architecture of a Japanese house or the beauty of an elderly Russian woman, from the villages in Maharashtra (India) to the high-rise apartments in Manhattan, the descriptions are thorough enough to create a vivid picture inside the reader’s head. In case, you find it difficult to imagine the things that Jim witnesses, there are a few pictures at the end, and sometimes, in the middle of the chapters.
If you are a traveller or someone who is fascinated by the idea of visiting interesting countries and having bizarre experiences, then this is the book for you. If you like reading about new places and befriending strange people, then Jim is your guy. If you are tired of your mundane life and are looking for an inspiration to force you out of your regular, boring neighbourhood; something to push you out to explore the world, then A Song is the prompt you need. What makes it even better is that Jim is an ordinary person. He is not someone who woke up one day with the sudden realisation of his destiny; of leaving everything behind and travelling the world. Neither is he a spy, which would make his exploits too fantastic. Jim is same as you and I. He is relatable because he thinks like us, he acts like us, and maybe this is why he inspires us even more. There are a plethora of different characters that he meets along the way, and at some point, you’ll stop and say ‘I know a person like that’. Jim’s story is bold, but it is not unreal.
My rating for this novel is 4 out of 4 stars. There were a few, here and there, grammatical mistakes, but there was not a single flaw in any other section that would hold me back from giving it a perfect rating. It is easy to ignore trivial mistakes when the story is so spectacular. After finishing this, I just wanted to pack my bags and venture out, like Jim. Sure enough, it will call out to the traveller in you, too. I recommend this book to everyone, no matter the age group. It’s like sitting around a bonfire and listening to an old man who is spinning the tales of his remarkable adventures. You don't want to miss this.
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