Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Oh, Mexico

Author: Lucy Neville

Title: Oh, Mexico: Love and Adventure in Mexico City

Description (source): Adulthood inevitably encroaches on all of us, but it is how we choose to acknowledge it that crafts our own story. For Lucy Neville, the reality of life after college did not provide the adventure she was seeking. Instead of taking the conventional route and starting a career, Lucy longs to further her learning of the Spanish language.  She decides the best way to do so would be to immerse herself in a Spanish speaking culture, and the obvious choice for most young women would be Spain. Instead, Lucy moves to Mexico City without the safety net of money, contacts, or even a thorough understanding of the language and despite the warning of the dangers at every turn. To Lucy, this is all part of the draw.
And so begins a young woman's hilariously dysfunctional love affair with a strange yet energetic city. Lucy quickly finds a job teaching English as a second language and discovers several culturally characteristic personalities as she adjusts to this new world. Against the backdrop of dangers like kidnapping, corruption and drug wars, alongside the delights of Mexican dance and street food, Lucy finds herself in outrageous situations, in both love and life in general. Landing a role in the famous Latin American soap opera, Tequila Loving, and managing to fall in love with two men, Lucy is an unpredictable spirit that proves irresistible to the reader. Her adventures culminate with the arrival of her eccentric relatives - where culture, a love triangle, and truth collide. (Marketing copy)

ARC source: netgalley

Writing style: Lucy has a wonderful writing style for this type of book and blends cultural observations with her own personal encounters in just the right proportion.

Audience: nonfiction, memoir, travel readers. This is the kind of book I would pick up, so I was predisposed to like it.

Major ideas: One reason that I really like to read books about peoples’ encounters as they live in foreign countries is that this is something I’m really drawn to, but because I have commitments, I’m past the stage of life where I can pull up stakes and move to Mexico or Peru. Or else I haven’t hit it yet. Or, a little voice whispers, I’m just not brave enough to show up in a country where I don’t speak the language, have no job and very little cash, and see how I get by. But I am brave enough to read about it.

Wrap-up: I enjoyed this book tremendously and would have enjoyed it had it been twice as long. Lucy has the generosity of spirit to accept people as they are, even when they are quite odd. For this reason, we’re given a sort of wide-eyed, yet not na├»ve, view of this exciting and vibrant country. Not to mention I wanted to try all of the food except for the stew that was made to mimic Aztec-human-sacrifice-stew. 4/5*

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