Official Review: Dear Thailand by Diane de Simone

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Spirit Wandering
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Official Review: Dear Thailand by Diane de Simone

Post by Spirit Wandering » 26 Jan 2018, 07:15

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Dear Thailand" by Diane de Simone.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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In Dear Thailand: A Love Story, Diane de Simone writes a series of letters to Thailand. In writing to her adopted country, we learn about the life of the author and why she is captivated by Thailand. She first visits the country shortly after deaths of her mother, brother and a close friend. Upon returning to America, she quickly decides to move to Thailand. She brings her father with her, as he has been devastated by the loss of his wife and son. In Thailand, she finds support for taking care of him in his last days and develops a compassion toward her father that she was unable to find while living in California. She also meets a woman named Naam Jai, who becomes her spiritual mentor. In the process of her journeying between the two countries, she evolves into a different spiritual being and eventually finds a new lifestyle that provides meaning to her.

While much of the narrative is about her personal experiences, the letters also contain a running commentary about the cultural difference between East and West. The author explores these differences through a number of societal themes, such as how we treat the elderly, how we approach death, why we are so tied to the consumerism of buying “stuff” and how we approach the stresses of our daily lives.

I really enjoyed reading this book, from a couple of different perspectives. It is one part spiritual pilgrimage and one part travelogue, documenting the beauty of Thailand and its people. It emotionally grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go. In some ways, it reminded me of Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert. Even though the author seems to have a vastly different background than mine, I felt a strong simpatico with her thoughts and feelings. I often smiled at her references. Here is one example: “In the middle of being surrounded by death I grokked I’d been following old and well-worn cultural lines for decades, and had not consciously questioned any of my steps.” For those of you who are not familiar with the term “grok,” I refer you one of my favorite books, Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein.

The one thing I wish could be improved is the overall pace of the book. It often has a “breathless” feel that I think is primarily attributable to a preponderance of run-on sentences. So much is packed into each sentence that I had to read many of them a couple of times, in order to fully understand the individual ideas being conveyed. There are also some occurrences of awkward phrasing or the use of an incorrect word. The opening sentence is an example: “When I walked out of the plane into the vaulted spaces of your internationally acclaimed Suvarnabhumi airport at the end of the first decade of the third millennium on my first one month visit with you, I was wobbly and jet-lagged and yet zinging with a feeling of arriving somewhere absolutely foreign and also strangely familiar and also comforting.”

I so thoroughly enjoyed the book’s content that I really wanted to give it four stars. Because of the pace of the narrative, however, I reluctantly felt that I had to reduce the rating by one star. Therefore, I rate Dear Thailand 3 out of 4 stars. I would not recommend if you think that Western culture is unquestionably superior to others, as this book would likely clash with your beliefs. I would enthusiastically recommend it to those who enjoy learning about foreign cultures and those who are interested in the spiritual journey of others. Reading the author’s story will encourage you to escape, for a day or perhaps a lifetime, from the crazy, unsatisfying life that many of us lead.

******
Dear Thailand
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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 31 Jan 2018, 07:46

What's the point of leading a life that does not make any sense to you! This question was elegantly brought out by the book, I like that and besides Thailand is a buddhist country and it has deep culture and custom which I believe a non thai would enjoy in getting to know about this country better. But about the pace, for me it sounded like if the book was rushing itself, this is demotivating! But the plot seem very intriguing. Looking forward to give it a shot!
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Post by kandscreeley » 31 Jan 2018, 08:23

Run-on sentences like that would drive me nuts, I think. It is an interesting idea to write letters to your home country. I can imagine it's packed with much wisdom and much we could learn (especially in America, probably.) Thanks for the good review.
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Post by Guddu » 31 Jan 2018, 18:04

I havent read the book but as i saw thailand word i like it because of my recent vacation.

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 31 Jan 2018, 18:44

Sahani Nimandra wrote:
31 Jan 2018, 07:46
But the plot seem very intriguing. Looking forward to give it a shot!
Thanks for replying and I hope you enjoy it.
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Post by Spirit Wandering » 31 Jan 2018, 18:47

kandscreeley wrote:
31 Jan 2018, 08:23
I can imagine it's packed with much wisdom and much we could learn (especially in America, probably.) Thanks for the good review.
Yes, I think the difference in perspective could be helpful for most Americans. Thanks for reading the review and replying.
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Post by Spirit Wandering » 01 Feb 2018, 05:38

Guddu wrote:
31 Jan 2018, 18:04
I havent read the book but as i saw thailand word i like it because of my recent vacation.
Based on the author's description of Thailand, I can imagine that you enjoyed your vacation. Thanks for reading the review and replying.
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Post by Maggie G » 01 Feb 2018, 20:21

It’s funny that you were reminded of Eat, Pray, Love, because as I was reading your review, that’s the book that came to my mind too. Great review!

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 02 Feb 2018, 06:15

Maggie G wrote:
01 Feb 2018, 20:21
It’s funny that you were reminded of Eat, Pray, Love, because as I was reading your review, that’s the book that came to my mind too. Great review!
The book certainly has the food and spiritual elements. While she doesn't include a romance element, if you read her bio you see that she married one of the minor characters in the book. Thanks for replying.
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Post by Rameen Shahid » 02 Feb 2018, 09:27

I had always wondered what it is about Thailand that attracts tourists to visit. I see now that this book can give me insights to the culture more than any blog on the internet can.

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 02 Feb 2018, 19:27

Rameen Shahid wrote:
02 Feb 2018, 09:27
I had always wondered what it is about Thailand that attracts tourists to visit. I see now that this book can give me insights to the culture more than any blog on the internet can.
Yes, I would recommend the book to understand the appeal of the Thai culture. Thanks for replying.
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Post by CommMayo » 03 Feb 2018, 15:10

Sounds like a pretty unique book. I like how you used the term "breathless" to describe the overabundance of run-on sentences. Quite a polite way to refer to bad sentence structure!

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 05 Feb 2018, 19:45

CommMayo wrote:
03 Feb 2018, 15:10
Sounds like a pretty unique book. I like how you used the term "breathless" to describe the overabundance of run-on sentences. Quite a polite way to refer to bad sentence structure!
While I'm glad the term came across as polite, I actually used it because that was how it felt for me when I read it. :lol: If I could have spoken with the author, I would have told her to relax and take a breath because it seemed like she was in a huge rush to get each sentence down on paper. Thanks for reading the review and replying.
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Post by Brenda kimathi » 28 Feb 2018, 14:53

I love this narrative, the summary is amazing.

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 01 Mar 2018, 07:05

Thanks for reading the review and your compliment of it.
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