I’ve been enjoying non-fiction books more and more lately and the description of this – a memoir of sailing and a safari through Africa really sounded like something I’d enjoy. But the subtitle of this book, “Finding Healing Through Travel,” reveals the true purpose of this memoir.
Author Tina Dreffin had a rough few years when she was young and trying to make it in Texas, to the point that she feared for her safety. Rape and the threat of continued sexual assaults had her looking to get out, and she jumped at the chance to make some money and get away from the hostile environment she was in. That’s when she met Peter – a good-hearted sailing bum. They travel together, raise boys together, suffer some loss together, and though this is Tina’s memoir, Peter, who is generally silent through the book, plays an integral role.
I was really looking forward to this book. Even the sub-title, “Finding Healing Through Travel,” didn’t deter me.
But this book is not so much a sharing of an adventure but a means of catharsis for Ms. Dreffin. We are not brought in on the story. The story isn’t being shared with us … we are being told a story. Though Dreffin tries to gain our sympathies with her early plight (and we do understand and empathize) it isn’t enough to hold our interest through the book.
The narrative here lacks focus. While recognizing that it is memoir and a memoir is a collection of memories that can be put together in a non-linear order, we often get memories shared that make the reader wonder – why is this here?
The African adventure, as described in the book, is a disappointing climax of the memoir. The sailing (the ‘bluewater’ as described in the title) is initially more interesting than the African adventure, but neither really engages.
This is very much akin to watching a friend’s slides from their summer vacation. What is interesting to them, grows tedious to the viewer/reader – and more-so when the story-teller isn’t a friend.
Also, I’d point out – the term Walkabout is typically an Australian term for a rite of passage for the indigenous young men. Dreffin’s adventures are none of these.
I hope Dreffin has secured some release of her past and achieved the catharsis that she needed, but I feel I was an unwitting passenger on this trip and I can’t recommend this memoir.
Looking for a good book? Bluewater Walkabout by Tina Dreffin is a very personal adventure but doesn’t reach out to the reader enough to make this recommendation worthy.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Bluewater Walkabout: Into Africa, Finding Healing Through Trauma
author: Tina Dreffin
publisher: Tina Carlson-Dreffin
paperback, 266 pages