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Burning the Map (Red Dress Ink (Numbered Paperback)) Paperback – 1 Nov 2002
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Overall, this book was fun to read, but after pages and pages of character and scenery development, the ending felt like it was on fast-forward play. It was almost as though the author was very excited about the plotline, but then just fizzled out when we finally get to the meat of the main character's epiphany.
The story of the three young women's trip to Rome and Greece is told by Casey-a young woman who has just now realized that she has been isolating herself from her friends, family, boyfriend and even her true self for nearly two years. I found it difficult to empathize with Casey and her struggles with her two best friends. It isn't until the very end of the story that she seems to really make any effort to `reconnect' with her friends and reacquaint herself with who she really is.
I admit, I was very pleased with the deviance from the standard chick book wrap-up, but I wasn't terribly surprised. My only real complaint about the plot is that it all seems rushed in the end; the characters all very promptly (seemingly out of nowhere) `figure it all out' and then poof, the book has ended. This was a fun but not fabulous read.
Casey Evans is a refreshing protagonist. Smart, gutsy, and refreshingly indecisive about her future, Casey is the proverbial dog who caught the bus. On a European trip to celebrate the completion of law school and her bar exam, Casey realizes that getting everything she wanted is a lot less satisfying that she imagined it would be. As her future looms before her, her anxiety about what she wants and who she is intensifies.
Burning the Map is filled with descriptions of great destinations. Embedded within the story were authentic details about European locales that had me yearning for my own holiday. But ultimately, Burning the Map is a story about friendships. It can be so hard to find a book about women that focuses on the importance of friendship (rather than romantic attachment) and showcases them in a positive light. The relationship between Casey and her best friends, Kat and Lindsey, isn’t perfect; there are disagreements and hurt feelings and disconnection. But the message, both explicit and implicit, is that Casey’s friendships are important enough to prioritize over her romantic relationships.
I particularly enjoyed the fact that Casey and her friends had fully realized sex lives that were not used as barometers of their worth or value as human beings. Instead, these women were allowed to have sex without (or perhaps, only a little) slut shaming. Caldwell does a nice job of capturing the breathless intensity of a new romance and there are a lot of funny and believable interactions as these young women travel through Italy and Greece.
Despite being published twelve years ago, there were only a few moments when I was bumped out of the story with outdated technology. Notably, at one point, Casey pulls out her palm pilot to check her calendar (google it, young ‘uns) and there’s a distinct lack of cell phones and texting that is a bit jarring, given it's contemporary tone. But overall, I wasn’t particularly aware of the date or the lack of social media.
As this was an audiobook review, I will note that I didn’t think the narration was great. The narrator’s voice was often overly articulate and stilted. And there were strange inflections on some words that had me re-interpreting the text or the storyline. I’d also say that the plot may have been a bit too body conscious for my liking. I could have done without knowing about Casey’s eggs whites on toast every morning and how much weight she’d lost on holiday (and really, who LOSES weight on holiday?) as some barometer of her search for personal meaning. But these were small points in an overall fun reading experience.
In the end, I thought Burning the Map was a surprisingly authentic story about relationships that are messy and sometimes difficult, about loving someone without knowing if they are the right person for you, and about finding out about you are, even if you don’t know what you want.
Casey knows that the three have grown apart, and that things are not that great at home with her boyfriend, new job, or her family. Instead of spending time with her best buds in Rome, Casey spends the day with and Italian paramour. She realizes that she misses the romance of the beginning of a relationship, and that she and John are in a rut.
While in Greece, the gals clash as Lindsey chases after an Irish bloke who is interested in Casey, and they are caught in a compromising situation after Casey gets bad news from home. Rather than pursue the relationship further, Casey agrees to go to another island with her friends and manages to somehow find herself.
There is also a secondary story regarding Kat and her relationship with her stepfather, though it is not fully developed.
I liked the storyline - and I pride myself on guessing what is coming next. This is one of those times where I was not right, and it was kind of nice to be surprised. I did not like the ending at all. Far too ambiguous - not the epilogue most readers are hoping for to wrap things up.
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