IMAGINE: A Vagabond Story, Book Review

Grant Lingel weaves a fascinating and modern coming-of-age tale about an American boy from New York fresh out of college who finds himself confronted by a world without choices. From grammar school to college, and even choosing a major, Grant found the path before him was already laid out. But, with seven credits to go to graduate, Grant abandons the world he knows and sets out to find himself, and defy the expectations American society demands.

Reading IMAGINE in the Woods

Reading IMAGINE in the Woods

From working in Mexico on a resort to traveling with crazed Minnesotans in Guatemala, to working a hostel-farm as a volunteer, learning poi and experiencing everyday with an open mind. Grant travels around from place to place, meeting amazing people and seeing life in a new light. His adventures leave the taste of rum and coke in the reader’s mouth, and a yearning to be a part of the trip Grant created for himself.

Grant writes often of the camaraderie travelers feel when abroad, an almost instant friendship that develops the moment you hear someone else’ amazing adventure tale. Reading Grant’s book while on the ferry from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, I was struck with a feeling of knowing and empathizing with the trials and joys of Grant’s experiences in Mexico. While I don’t share his enthusiasm for countless nights of partying that would shock a rock star, I feel that Grant’s adventure is well worth the telling, and feel that his up-beat and emotional readiness while traveling is an example many a weary traveler can learn from.

The characters in Grants adventures are so real that one can imagine they are a member of the small pack of friends Grant travels with while abroad. From drunken parties to day-trip adventures and midnight food runs, the reader truly comes to understand the atmosphere of life in Mexico as an expatriate. A life on the edge with extreme sporting, extreme partying, and sucking the very marrow out of each day of life, leaves the reader wishing to buy a one-way-ticket to a sandy beach.

I hope that his book inspires other people to imagine the possibilities in their own lives. Anyone can abandon their cube to see what life is like on the other side of the office wall. Anyone can buy a one-way ticket to paradise. For some reason, it is a select few who chose to defy the norm, abandon the cube and imagine a more thrilling life. Grant chooses to spend time in Mexico, Guatemala and more living on the beach, working with locals and other expats, and losing himself in the moment with drugs, women and a seemingly endless supply of booze. While Grant realizes that the world he is living in is a dangerous one, he has nevertheless stepped off the plank and into a world that is mixed with good and bad. By making the initial choice, Grant accepts the consequences and as a result, lived a more fulfilling life—and one worth reading about.

From one traveler to another, I recommend Imagine: A Vagabond Story
as a great read into the psyche of a traveler living on the edge. The tale ends happily enough with Grant starting a new adventure on another continent, letting all of us be reminded that it’s the experiences in life that make it worthwhile, not the 7 missing credits or the lack of a decent salary.

Review written by Lauren Johnson, from Abandon the Cube (Republic of Georgia, September 6th, 2009)Though we were very kindly given a singed copy of the book by Grant, we passed the book onto an English traveler heading East in the Republic of Georgia, who will pass it on as she finishes it.

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