Book Review: Beyond the Sunset (Volume 1)
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
How can you capture a lifetime of wanderlust?
From the time Sherry Knowlton first read of distant places, she was captivated. In 50s era Southcentral Pennsylvania, books were her key to a wider, more exciting world. As she grew and her world opened, she realized that she no longer needed to live vicariously through her novels. She could go out and explore the globe herself.
Beyond the Sunset: Adventures Outside My Comfort Zone is the first volume of Sherry Knowlton’s travel memoir, tracking her journey from the first spark to a lifetime of adventure. On the surface, this may be a travel story, but at its heart, it’s a testament to everything Sherry loves: Places, creatures, and family.
Most of Sherry and her husband Mike’s travels are off the beaten track and heavily geared toward adventure. Beyond the Sunset reflects this in more ways than one. It doesn’t follow the conventions of a travel memoir. While filled to the brim with diverse and fascinating locales, it isn’t linear. It’s not divided into countries or continents the way most travel memoirs would be, but into experiences.
In a way, Sherry follows her own path in the creation of her memoir—much as she does in life. She doesn’t gloss over the difficulties or dangers of travel. While some chapters deal with the breathtaking, life-changing moments in Sherry’s journey, others discuss the pitfalls. It’s so interesting to see the unique ways in which Sherry has sub-divided the book.
Modes of transport, which I’ve always seen as mere vehicles toward the destination, become a major part of the journey, written in a way that makes you want to take the same trips. Alongside the stories Sherry weaves are hints and tips for other travelers. She talks about how to make sure you’re prepared, researching the trip ahead, and even ethical travel considerations.
It’s fascinating how reading has impacted Sherry’s traveling life. The books that once made her dream of unfamiliar lands stay with her through her journey. Throughout the memoir, she quotes the authors she loves as they write about places that she’s been. The dual passion for reading and travel creates a lushly intertextual experience and a feel for how much history is woven into the Earth’s crust—a reminder that the same mountains and oceans Sherry traverses have been visited immeasurable times before and will be there for centuries to come.
While Sherry has clearly been to some amazing places and experienced wondrous things, I do wonder if there could have been a more in-depth exploration of some of the major events. The scope of travel Sherry has undertaken is vast, spanning most of the continents. At times it feels as though Sherry is cataloguing the places she’s seen and things she’s done rather than slowing down to show readers how fantastic those things are.
Beyond the Sunset is an exhilarating read. With Google at my fingertips, I was able to see and learn about a number of new places, buildings, and animals. The stories are interspersed with beautiful photographs from the trips too. Lush with sensory detail and brimming with diverse travel experiences, Beyond the Sunset is bound to appeal to seasoned and unseasoned travelers alike.
Publisher: Sunbury Press
Genre: Nonfiction / Memoir / Travel
Print Length: 198 pages
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