With this review I am halfway done my reads for the Vacation Challenge! It's getting down to the wire and I still have two more to read (plus there's another post in the works...stay tuned!). So far I've "traveled" to Tuscany and Scotland, and with Burning the Map by Laura Caldwell I got to go to Rome and Greece.
Overall this was a fun and easy read - perfect for the summer. This was the kind of book that was great for someone who wants to travel or is about to start a new chapter in their lives - particularly on the job front. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
Picking up a first novel is a bit like unwrapping a present, an exciting peek into the unknown. Laura Caldwell's debut invites readers along on a special trip -- a voyage of self-discovery, with plenty of adventure (romantic and otherwise) and a chance to explore friendships, new and old. Casey Evers is at a turning point in her life. She's just finished her law boards, she's about to start a new job, her workaholic boyfriend is about to pop the question and she's desperate for a last taste of freedom before she settles down to mapping her course through her new, grown-up, self-supporting life. That's why she's talked her two best girlfriends (whom she's seen much too little of since getting serious about John) into a gals-only trip -- a few days in Rome, then a few weeks in the Greek islands. This is Casey's chance to recapture a part of herself she's nearly forgotten -- the wild, fun-loving, passionate woman she may never be free to be again. Casey, Lindsey, and Kat had been like sisters for a decade and little more than passing strangers for the past two years. They've come to make up for all the special times they've missed in the past two years, to try to build a new friendship on the foundations of the old. Far from home, in exotic settings, with plenty of sexy guys and no responsibilities, these three friends learn that emotional baggage is a lot lighter when it's shared.I checked out Laura Caldwell's website and had realized that I've already read one of her books, The Night I Got Lucky. I enjoyed that one too and it had a similar theme - the protagonist was trying to have her so-called "perfect" life but realizes that what she thought would be perfect may not actually be right for her.
The synopsis also gave me the heads up that Burning the Map was Caldwell's first novel. I didn't think of it at the time but it does make sense that this was her debut. While I liked the characters I feel like they could have been more developed and the storyline was fairly simple. That being said, I really liked the book. The three friends, Casey, Lindsey, and Kat are off on a trip for one last hurrah before Casey settles down to an established job at a law firm. The synopsis also makes it seem like the trip was all about the girls rekindling their close friendship, and while that was a huge part to the story, it was really a struggle to get to the end. I could understand that they had a huge hurdle to overcome (Casey had been distant since she started dating John and focusing on her law career) but there were arguments and pettiness between the girls that I just couldn't quite get over. It was also hard to see these three friends who had been so close become so disconnected. It really made me think about my own friends and what our relationships might be like in the next few years. I'm hoping that we stay close as we establish our "grown up" lives and careers. :)
I also really envied the girls and the vacation they took. They planned out this great trip to Europe and were able to get the money and time off work to go away. I know so many people say that you should just go away without worrying too much about the money, but I guess I'm just a worrier because I couldn't bring myself to spend all my money on a trip when I was just out of university. Of course, now I sort of wish I had but I'm hoping to go on a nice vacation...erm...let's just say soon. It may not be to Italy or Greece - both are places I would love to travel to - but you never know! I would love to travel to those countries partly because of the history Italy and Greece have. Comparatively speaking, I live in a young country (Canada for those of you who didn't know) and our history and development as a country is so different than many European countries. Reading about these girls taking a trip of a lifetime was a lot of fun, even if I was a little bit jealous!
Along with trying to breathe life back into her friendship with Lindsey and Kat, Casey is trying to sort through the second thoughts she's been having about her soon to be permanent law job and her relationship with her boyfriend, John. It's easy for me to say, as a reader and objective third party, that she should have realized there were issues when she was starting to wonder if she was making the right choices. I'm sure if it was me I wouldn't be able to see the problems that were staring me right in the face. In the end, Casey discovers what she should truly be doing and is happy, which is the most important thing. While I think that one of her decisions was very abrupt and could have been dealt with in a slightly different way, I applaud her for going with her heart and doing what she truly loves.
Like I mentioned before, this is a book that's great for someone who's starting a new chapter in their life. Anyone who has been in that position will know that easy answers are hard to come by and you should almost always follow your heart. Unless it's telling you to run off with a goat farmer in a country where you don't speak any of the language and have no hope of finding employment. Then I would at least consult some friends :) Overall, this was a fun read and think many other chick lit lovers would enjoy it as well.