5 out of 5 stars
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In her book, Who Will Accompany You?: My Mother-Daughter Journeys Far from Home and Close to the Heart, Meg Stafford chronicles her and her daughters’ trips. When Kate, her younger daughter, decides to visit Bhutan for her senior project at only seventeen years old, Meg is understandably taken aback. Two years later, it comes as just as much of a shock when Gale, her twenty-three-year-old daughter, decides to visit Colombia as an accompanier. Regardless, she supports their respective endeavours, making sure to accompany them for a bit of the way. Read on for a vivid byplay of their adventures.
A standout feature of the book is the way in which it was written. The tone was lighthearted and very self-aware—a trait I find most tourist recollections tend to lack. Readers will be gratified to find there is only one minor error in the entire book, speaking well to its editing quality.
An unbroken thread of humour made Who Will Accompany You? a delight to get through, and I appreciated the mentions of unique aspects of the different locales that made it feel as if I were really there accompanying Meg and her daughters. Profanity was present but scarce, so this shouldn’t be too large a deterrent to readers.
I loved the addition of Kate’s journal entries and the emails from Gale. The photos were also a boon, and I always feel content of this nature only serves to boost the realistic quality of nonfiction books. Weirdly enough, I loved Kate’s inability to connect with some of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and the practice of meditation. She questioned karma, dharma, and the separation of ‘I’ from the rest of ourselves, all without dismissing what was being taught in the course. It’s a stark contrast to the travel guides that typically boast of an immediate connection with the ideologies of the places in question. Though it was something she was looking forward to, she was firm in her own beliefs and way of thinking that it was hard to correlate what was being taught with her own search for happiness, outright expressing her frustration at the rather contradicting cycle of Buddhism ideals. This was refreshing to read about.
I think beneath all the travelling ups and downs, the message apparent in the title was always prevalent. When Meg was on her journey, she was accompanied by Lisa and Lila. She went on to explore Kathmandu and Bhutan with Kate and then accompanied Gale for a brief time in Colombia. Through it all, she and her family shared their own little nuggets with each other, doing frequent checks on each other without intruding on their enjoyment of their chosen destinations. At home, she always had the support of her husband, Duke. That they allowed their loved ones the freedom of choice was something I respected and admired.
Towards the end of the book, Meg imparts some wisdom on personality types and how they affect those around them (especially relating to people bit by the travelling bug), using her knowledge as a therapist as a sort of foundation for this.
Who Will Accompany You? deserves no less than a full five out of five-star rating. With an excellent style of writing, a conversant retelling of events, and multiple perspectives showing how each woman was affected by each place she visited, the positives of the book are varied and numerous. I enjoyed being able to viscerally witness and experience the sights through Meg, Gale, and Kate. This book will be a fitting read for fans of travelogues and vacation journals. Those with an interest in Nepal, Bhutan, and Colombia are sure to glean pearls of wisdom for their potential trips to these places.
Who Will Accompany You?
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