Thank You to Penguin Group Dutton for providing me with an advanced copy of Steve Hely's The Wonder Trail, in exchange for an honest review. Additionally, I'd like to thank them for their understanding when life complications delayed my review past the publication date.
PLOT - Television writer Steve Hely (The Office, American Dad) uses his sitcom hiatus to explore South America, traveling from Los Angeles to Patagonia.
LIKE- I've never traveled to South America and it was a pleasure to follow Hely on his travels. I came away with a greater understanding of the continent, its countries, and cultures. Being a comedy writer, Hely infuses his travel writing with plenty of humor, much of which is derived from his observations and fish-out-of-water experiences.
Different from other travel writing that I've read, was the level of research that Hely has done. He embarks on his trip as someone who is well-read with regard to the History of the countries that he is planning on visiting. He has a clear enthusiasm for learning and sharing what he has learned, including ending his book with not just a citation of his sources, but specific recommendations and info on his sources. He wants you to be as excited about South America as he is; his enthusiasm is contagious and I've already loaded up my Amazon Wishlist with his recommendations. Hely manages to strike a good balance between his own experiences and the historical narrative.
DISLIKE- Occasionally, I found the historical references to be dry, slowing down the pace of the book. However, this is a minor complaint, I was engaged for a majority of The Wonder Trail.
RECOMMEND- Yes. If you like travel journals, The Wonder Trail should be on your to-be read list. If you're planning a trip to South America, or just want to arm-chair travel, it's a fascinating look at the continent. You'll come away enriched.