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Book Review: West of Wawa – Lisa de Nikolits

Donna Brown1 comment616 views
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About West of Wawa
West of WawaWest of Wawa is a coming-of-age backpacking travel story full of wacky, eye-opening and downright scary adventures. A new arrival in Canada from Australia, Benny is fleeing personal and professional disasters – not to mention her impending 30th birthday. With a history of running from her troubles, Benny escapes once more: abandoning her new job and life for a cross-Canada bus trip. But what begins as an escape plan transforms into a discovery. Benny discovers strength she didn’t even know she had as well as the artistic desires she’d thought were gone forever.

Review: West of Wawa

Benny is getting close to her 30th birthday and needs to decide what to do with her life.  Before she can make such a momentous decision, she makes a rather impetuous one and decides to take a road trip across Canada.  Think less jet set lifestyle, jumbo jets and the high life and more Greyhound buses, junk food and chai lattes.  However, there’s more to this trip than champagne and roses: this is a chance for Benny to find herself and, hopefully, find her future.

I loved Benny as a character.  She is utterly flawed, not always very likeable, quite selfish and self-centred in ways.  Despite all this, there is an absolutely touching vulnerability to Benny.  As the book progressed I found myself absolutely, solidly in love with Benny and everything about her character, the good and the bad.  At times I felt that I wasn’t just reading the book from Benny’s perspective but as if I were Benny.  I completely empathised with her and even though her decisions were often questionable, I could understand the basis for them, the reasons she took such strange steps.

There is so much to this book, despite a premise that seems ridiculously simple.  A twenty-something screw-up on a road trip?  Maybe.  But I rather think that that is selling this book so very short.  Instead, think of woman who is full of potential, with a bright future lying ahead of her if only she can find it.  A kind soul that has been buried under expectation and disappointment.  A lovely young woman who doesn’t value herself enough to recognise the love and respect she deserves from others.

I enjoyed every moment of West of Wawa.  It wasn’t always easy to read, it didn’t always feel comfortable but it resonated with me for days afterward.  I missed Benny.  I found myself wondering what would happen next.  I wanted to know what her next adventures would be.  I have finished some books and felt their absence keenly but it is a very rare thing for me to a finish a book and feel the loss of the character, rather than just the loss of a great story.

Incredibly thought-provoking, touching, moving and inspiring, West of Wawa has been one of my favourite reads of 2012 so far.  It will certainly be a difficult act to follow.

Verdict: 5/5

Source: I received a copy in exchange for my fair and honest review

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.

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