Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Travel Memoir
Approximate word count: 105-110,000 words
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“Jamie Alexander is a writer and photographer based in Oxfordshire, England, with a keen interest in current affairs and travel. He's seen his fair share of adventures, from being mobbed by villagers in the high Himalaya and hunting wild boar in the world's most remote rain forests, to meeting Papuan rebels in the highlands of New Guinea. When he isn't off doing ridiculous things in faraway places, he likes bouldering, eating cheese, and reading about people doing ridiculous things in faraway places.”
“What kind of student would go halfway around the world to stir up an independence movement on his summer break?
At nineteen, Jamie was nicely on track to becoming one of the most boring people in England, but an impulse trip to the jungles of Kalimantan changed all that. Spurred on by what he encountered among the tribespeople of the Krayan, he made a decision to discover the truth of the world around him, however uncomfortable that truth would turn out to be.”
Travel narratives or travel memoirs are an interesting breed. Done well, the “where” isn’t all that important. Sure, you’ll get unique insights into the destination or destinations covered, but for details on that there are better sources. Instead, the genre unfailingly has a (hopefully) unique twist on one or both of two standard lessons. Either the author through their experience learns to understand himself or herself better in some way or they’re shown the truth of the cliché “people everywhere are the same.”
Nowhere Like Home has the normal lessons. However, it has another that is clearly the biggest lesson. While “people everywhere are the same” is a lesson that no matter how different we may be, people everywhere have the same basic hopes and dreams, the other lesson here is about the differences. How people in dissimilar areas and other cultures can have values and outlooks on the world and life that are also valid. That by understanding them better we can break down our own prejudices and often incorrect preconceptions, leading to a better understanding of the world and our place in it which, when I stop to think about it, takes us back to standard lesson #1.
A small number of typos and other proofing and copyediting misses.
Rating: ***** Five stars