Review – The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

Oct 06

Review – The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost

When I started this book, I had already heard the author, Rachel Friedman, read two excerpts from it aloud – one of which I completely connected to because of the way she described the feeling of de-boarding an airplane in a foreign country with no job and no place to live. I’ve done that – so I instantly liked her.

But reading further into this memoir of self-discovery through travel, I found her experiences to be way more varied and adventurous than mine were. And I found myself becoming… well, a little bit jealous.

That’s not to say I regret anything I did or didn’t do while living and traveling in foreign countries – I did what I could within my means. But there was that month when, after returning home from London, I thought of leaving for an additional four months in Australia, and ultimately decided not to. But Rachel did – and that’s where our lives diverged.

Rachel’s journey starts in Ireland, where she finds herself avoiding her life back home. Her parents’ divorce, pressure to go to graduate school right after undergrad, and the sea of voices saying “welcome to the real world” were the inciting incidents, telling her to escape. She found an Australian roommate, a job at a bar, and a climate that invited her to stay in on rainy afternoons and read – something she relished. But during this first third of the book, I really didn’t feel that she found her footing as a traveler – as an explorer. She was more focused on running away from her life back home – and less able to articulate where it was she wanted to GO and WHY she wanted to go there.

This all changes when she gets to Australia. It is on this wild continent (that does in fact inspire the most sloth-like of homebodies to HAVE A FUCKING ADVENTURE OR GO HOME) she finally ventures out alone. She views sunrises and sunsets over the red earth at Uluru, she sees dangerous creatures that she never knew existed, and she realizes that she is way more daring than she thought she was capable of being. And she likes it.

In the last third of the book, she really makes peace with who she is as a person – the good and the bad. The adventurer and the one who longs for safety. As her and her daredevil friend Carly traverse “Death Road” – you witness Rachel growing more uneasy with her journey and more at home with the fact that some things about herself will never change. But she’s still up for the ride.

I found myself feeling lots of… feelings while reading this book. Some of it was almost painful in that way that things you miss ever so delicately pull at your heartstrings and make you want to leap from your couch and GO BACK! I kept saying to John, “Really, we need to make sure we can travel somewhere cool and interesting at least ONCE A YEAR. Otherwise, we can’t live a happy life.” I was making inane, silly statements like that during the entire two-week period I was reading this book. John went along with it, of course, but even he could sense the odd desperation in my voice. Because one thing this book does make you want to do is go on an adventure. The way she describes the life she is leading in opposition to her friends back home in 9-5 jobs literally puts a lump in your throat and forces to re-evaluate every step you’ve taken since getting off the plane back to America.

I kept wanting her to come out on the other side of this journey and have some answer for me. Because those parts of myself I found while in London are my most precious parts, and I try desperately every day to hang on to them. And I was sure she would be able to tell me how to live a stable life and still have that sense of adventure – to keep her traveler’s mentality intact while saving for retirement. But she couldn’t. And I think it’s because no one can. The solace that she was able to provide me with was that it is the search – it is the adventure of life that you have to be willing to accept – and it is the everyday challenges that can sometimes be just as harrowing and exciting as riding a bike down Bolivia’s Death Road. It all comes down to how you decide to navigate it.

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