The selection I have been reading, I admit I didn’t pick it myself and was pretty hesitant to order it after reading one review that was less than favorable. But… it seems (so far, as yes, I am recommending another book I am still in the process of reading) fairly good. I think expats would find many of her struggles familiar in this book.
The book is Beyond the Sky and the Earth by Jamie Zeppa. I recently joined a woman’s book group and this is the selection for May’s meeting. The description from Amazon.com:
As a teacher of English literature, Jamie Zeppa would understand how the story of her journey into Bhutan could be fit into the convenient box of “coming-of-age romance,” a romance with a landscape, a people, a religion, and a dark, irresistible student. An innocent, young Catholic woman from a Canadian mining town who had “never been anywhere,” Zeppa signed up for a two-year stint teaching in a remote corner of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Despite the initial shock of material privation and such minor inconveniences as giardia, boils, and leeches, Zeppa felt herself growing into the vast spaces of simplicity that opened up beyond the clutter of modern life. Alongside her burgeoning enchantment, a parallel realization that all was not right in Shangri-La arose, especially after her transfer to a college campus charged with the politics of ethnic division. Still she maintained her center by devouring the library’s Buddhist tracts and persevering in an increasingly fruitful meditation practice. When the time came for her to leave, she had undergone a personal transformation and found herself caught between two worlds that were incompatible and mutually incomprehensible. Zeppa’s candid, witty account is a spiritual memoir, a travel diary, and, more than anything, a romance that retraces the vicissitudes of ineluctable passion.
So far it is a pretty good book. She has just recently been transferred from Pema Gatshel teaching grade two to the Sherubtse College in Kanglung. There are things I can relate to in her story in some ways. She leaves Canada and goes to the middle of nowhere where she has running water only sometimes, no electricity and no idea how to adapt to the ‘cultural norm’. She feels like an outsider and is lost and desperate at times for home. I can relate to some of that even though we do not have the water and electricity problem here. It’s an interesting read thus far. I do hope that the review I did read regarding her getting involved with one of her college students (she herself is 23 when this takes place) does not influence my current liking of the book.
On another note if the last half is really bad, I can dedicate myself to my newly arrived book and cd on learning Gaelic instead 🙂