3 out of 4 stars
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Searching for Paradise by T.L. Hughes tells the story of three friends on a 1984 cross country trip returning East from a brief time living in California. However, their plan isn’t to return to their hometowns and resume a normal life of suits and 9 to 5 jobs. When they reach the East Coast they plan to continue on by plane to backpack across Europe continuing to chase their dreams of working in the entertainment industry. On the trip, they zig zag their way across the country stopping to visit family and old friends, even attend a wedding or two along the way. The long stretches of road in between visits are filled with reminiscing reflection by the narrator, examining events that led him to California and back. These moments of introspection are intertwined with songs and lyrics that he seems to be using to help make sense of these life experiences. The narrator also includes his own poetry, lyrics, and writings throughout the book.
What I liked most about this book was the author’s storytelling of past events. The narrator’s recounts of his youth and his relationships to the people they were on their way to visit were captivating. The stories he recalled were entertaining, well-written and pulled you in like you were there remembering with him.
What I disliked the most about the book was the ending. I wasn’t entirely sure exactly what happened in the final scene. I don’t know if the author did this intentionally or if it was merely my interpretation, but it left the book feeling unresolved for me.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I nearly gave it 4 stars, because the storytelling was so enjoyable and it was a fun, entertaining read. However, I had a slight dislike for the narrator, Mike, partly for his recollections of his lost love Colette. Midway through the book he recalls an incident with her at a baseball game, but seems to remember it almost as a series of events that were just beyond his control without taking full ownership to them. He also kept repeating the phrase “three on the tree” which seemed forced and an unnecessary detail each time it was used.
Overall, this was a good book and I think it would be an enjoyable read by most audiences. Anyone who has ever taken a long road trip with friends will certainly enjoy a book full of reminiscing, road tripping, and music. I do think it has a particular nostalgic appeal for those who grew up listening to and loving the music of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s.
Searching For Paradise
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