When I saw cover of Wonderlust, I felt a magnetic pull. Travel books charm me.  A Spiritual Travelogue for the Adventurous Soul appeared to be a valuable passport.

Vicki Kuyper has visited 40 countries. And she can write. But I found the format of this book off-putting. Each chapter, 4-5 pages, is a vignette about a particular place (Cambodia, California, Peru, China, etc.) with a spiritual lesson attached.  Each chapter begins with “A Journey to _______” (e.g. Self-Acceptance, Forgiveness, Wholeness, Identity) and ends with a list of questions (which I admit I skipped) intended, I suppose, to help the reader go deeper into her personal journey. The book seems to be a hybrid between a travel memoir and a devotional. The tidy faith lesson came abruptly and didn’t seem organic to the story.  It ends with a neat resolution.

Perhaps I rebel at this style because I tend toward it myself. Because I grew up reading and hearing engaging stories with a Bible lesson tacked on the end like a ruffle, I can slide effortlessly into this model. It’s didactic; it’s facile.

I would love to spend an evening over dinner listening to Vicki and Mark Kuyper’s stories. I suspect that I’d hear some of the lessons they learned, but they would be naturally woven into the stories. Frances Mayes’ A Year in the World: Journeys of A Passionate Traveller isn’t a spiritual travelogue; but it is better reading.

Here are some sample Wonderlust quotes:

[Describing a Grand Canyon sunset]
Never before, at least not in my experience, had silence so eloquently shouted God’s name. It came in a chorus of color, from soft ginger to warm butterscotch, burnt sienna, and flaming auburn. Tones of cappuccino swirled with espresso. Layers of ocher and amber–alive–fluidly changing shade and hue before my eyes. As the warm tones began to cool, tiers of cobalt and plum melted into velvet indigo. Shadows caught in a slow waltz danced to the music of light and rhythm of time.

[A Cambodian guide’s story]
“I was thirteen years old when everything changed,” Som said softly, a dramatic change from his usually vibrant, lighthearted tone. “First the Khmer Rouge killed the soldiers. Then those who were educated. Then the rich. Then anyone they wanted. I was pulled away from my family. They separated us into groups by age. The first lesson we learned is that we could no longer use the word my. No more my father, my mother, my brother…”

[St. Petersburg, Russia]
I’d heard that in Russia there are only two seasons: expectation and disappointment. After only one week, I discovered a third: resignation.



3 thoughts on “Wonderlust

  1. I love travel books too, but I think I would prefer it without the devotionals.  She could have still infused the writings with her faith and her spiritual impressions without having a “format.”Great review.  Hope you’ll stop by mine!Cindy at Cindy’s Book Club

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