Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Oh Mexico! Love and Adventure in Mexico City

Oh Mexico!: Love and Adventure in Mexico City by Lucy Neville

Published by: Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Published on: August 16, 2011

Page Count: 328

Genre: Travel Memoir, Autobiography

My Reading Format: Advanced reading copy in Adobe Digital Editions from Netgalley

Available Formats: Kindle and paperback

My Review:

Lucy Neville’s travel memoir, Oh Mexico!: Love and Adventure in Mexico City, starts out in a predictable way. This recent college graduate isn’t ready for the corporate world, so she decides to embark upon a journey far away from her home in Australia. In Mexico City, she decides, she can better her Spanish language skills, embrace and immerse herself in a different culture, and have a host of new experiences. For one year she decides to live in crime-ridden but culturally rich Mexico City, and she is determined to succeed there. Along the way she encounters quirky characters who are both escaping their lives in other countries and are Mexican natives. She learns how difficult it is to survive and thrive in a place where corruption is rampant and rules and laws are merely suggestions. She finds herself part of a culture where women tend to be hard workers while their men often do as little work as possible. She learns what is important to Mexican life: food, family and celebrations (even if many of them seem to make light of death).

For me this book was a nice break from travel memoirs that take place in Europe. Yes, I enjoy those books immensely, but it was nice to read a first-hand experience of a country I’ve never visited, not even in the areas that cater to North American tourists, and a country that only makes American news when there is something to report on border patrol issues or drug cartels. I’m not sure it made me immediately want to book a trip to check out Mexico City for myself, but it did give me a great admiration for the author and others who embark upon similar adventures.

I liked this Lucy, the narrator. I sometimes forgot that I was reading a book instead of hearing a friend recount her adventures abroad. For the first time in quite a while, I feel like I know Lucy and that she’s my friend. She’s relatable, spunky, and willing to keep trying until she finds a way that works. She’ll listen to your advice and she might follow it. Or she might find out for herself.

What I didn’t like about the book and fairly small compared to what I did. As Lucy struggles to decide between two men, her hot roommate Octavio and her kind-hearted boyfriend Ricardo, the decision in the book, whether it was in real life, was rushed. Lucy let us into her head, building up all the tension between her and Octavio right before he vanished from her life. Was it really like that? I suspect not since many people can’t just switch their emotions off that quickly and neatly. Then, as Mexico’s economy becomes greatly affected by the American one, Lucy and Ricardo decide to move back to Australia. Though the focus of the book was, obviously, life in Mexico City, I am so curious to know more about how things turned out once they got settled in Australia.

Lucy Neville, if Ricardo is a writer, please talk him into writing a companion book outlining his first year living with you in Australia. If he is not a writer, please consider how you could turn this new chapter in your life into a second book. 

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