Review: You Can’t Get There From Here

In these eight interconnected travel stories, journalist Gayle Forman traces the trajectory from her relatively comfortable life in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen to her sometimes extreme—and extremely personal—experiences in some of the most exotic spots on earth

In this extraordinary memoir, Gayle Forman takes us with her to the mountain hideaways of Kazakhstan’s Tolkien fanatics and inside the townships of South Africa’s lost tribe of Israel. She introduces us to a wild assortment of characters: lovelorn Tongan transvestites, charismatic Tanzanian rap stars, precocious Cambodian street kids, out-of-work Dutch prostitutes. In the artful interplay of these eight lively, thoughtful stories, she reveals how all of these diverse lives—as well as our own—are being inextricably altered by the ever-shrinking world that we share. Because, she writes, “To forget the humanity in others is to risk forgetting one’s own.”–From Amazon

I love reading nonfiction periodically, but I don’t read a lot of travel memoirs. However, if Gayle Forman wrote a technical manual, I think I would read it. You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World is Forman’s account of her year-long trip around the world with her husband. The book shares the same smart, funny, touching style that is core to Forman’s YA fiction, but with a little extra educational value thrown in. Throughout the main travel narrative, research and personal stories are interspersed, allowing the reader to get to know more about the parts of the world being traveled and the people in them. Forman and her husband are far braver travelers than I am, but I enjoyed living vicariously through their adventures. On Forman’s website, you can check out a digital scrapbook of the trip, an amazingly detailed trip planning guide for others interested in gallivanting around the world, and an excerpt from the book.

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