Book Review: Life, Travel, and the People In Between
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
An insightful, feel-good travel memoir that shows how following your passion can change your life
At nineteen, working in a Comfort Inn motel, and studying at Norfolk State University, Mike Nixon dreams of having a bigger life. One that more resembles the lives of the guests checking into the rooms of his motel every day. As an introvert with limited life experiences, everyone around him seems to have more ambition and aspirations than him.
Only when he travels to the Dominican Republic as part of his university’s study-abroad program does he realize what he’s been missing. Visiting new countries and meeting people from different walks of life calls to him. On his return to the USA, Mike’s only concern is how to repeat the experience. As a poor uni student, his options seem limited. But the calling to experience the world is far too powerful to refuse, and soon Mike is doing everything he can to follow it.
Travel memoirs have a propensity for exposing the author’s true passion. In Life Travel and the People in Between, there are a multitude of things that Mike loves about traveling, but the people he meets along the way clearly top the list. For someone who started out relatively friendless and socially isolated, travel brings him out of his shell. Life Travel and the People in Between feels like a complete journey. Mike goes from an introvert with an almost non-existent social life to the sort of person who strikes up conversations with strangers and becomes firm friends before the night is out.
The storytelling in this memoir is simple and unembellished. Conversational rather than ostentatious. It’s clear from the way he writes how much Nixon loves travel. He doesn’t hold his feelings back on the places he goes. If the experience is bad, he’ll explain why but also temper the opinion with details of how his travel companions felt about the trip. In doing this, we have a narrative that feels both genuine and balanced.
Nixon makes use of footnotes throughout the memoir. In general, these give more insight into the places he visits or the customs of the country. While there are a lot of fun facts hidden in the footnotes, they can pull us out of the lovely conversational narrative rather than always add to the piece.
Life Travel and the People in Between is like an interesting discussion with someone talking about the life they love. It’s accessible, relatable, sometimes funny, and sometimes painful. It’s also one of those books that inspires you just by existing. For someone without a lot of means, either social, professional, or economic, it’s amazing how Nixon manages to build such a fulfilling, enriching life while following his heart.
Genre: Nonfiction / Travel / Memoir
Print Length: 316 pages
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