Mandy had always wanted to travel. In fact, she can’t remember a time when travelling wasn’t on her mind. Growing up in the picturesque Lake District, a highly sort after, idyllic location in the UK, her desire to leave may seem odd for some.
After leaving school at 16, Mandy decided to undertake a hotel receptionist course at college while working part-time, unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out for her and she soon fell into the trap of working in a job she really didn’t enjoy, dreaming instead of a new life abroad. Then an opportunity arose to become a nanny in California and she jumped at the chance. This she believed was her ticket out of the UK, and she grasped at it with both hands. This decision was made back in April 1989 when the world of the internet had yet to influence the desire to live in far-flung exotic places.
Jack was a loud, lairy Essex boy with a big ego. He was too much of a handful for his mother so she sent him off to live with his grandparents. He soon started working part-time for his father and by the age of 14 had decided education wasn’t necessary so left to work full-time as a roofer.
After a falling out with his father, however, he changed jobs, going to work on his uncle’s fruit and vegetable market stall in North London instead. This lasted for a while until Jack decided he wanted something more. First thoughts were to tour Europe in a VW Camper Van, and then he was off to Australia until he found out how much the airfare cost. He finally settled on California because it was cheaper. By the time he left, it was May 1989 and he was 21.
Is America really the country where dreams come true?
When Mandy arrives in California and meets the family she can’t believe her luck. A beautiful house with five en-suite bedrooms and a swimming pool which puts her parents home back in Kendal to shame, but can things really be as good as they seem?
Jack isn’t quite so lucky. It seems his travel companion lied and didn’t know anyone in California, he simply knew of somebody. When they arrived no one was in and it turns out the area of Long Beach they had landed in was less welcoming then they had hoped. Despite not knowing anyone they were invited into the flat of their ‘acquaintance’ only to be faced with a disgusting kitchen piled high with dirty pots and pans and a living room that clearly had not seen a vacuum cleaner in quite some time. Could this end up being the worst mistake of Jack’s life?
Mandy and Jack both share with us the highs and lows of moving so far away from home at such a young age. They describe their experiences of California back in the ’80s where raves were popular, getting cash in hand jobs was easy and working on a tourist visa for years at a time was not unheard of.
My Thoughts on The Journey: California and Hawaii
This is a difficult one for me to review. I always enjoy reading about people’s travels but for me, I also struggled with The Journey when all you end up reading about is them getting high. It’s not that I am a prune, it’s just not a scene I ever wanted to be involved in so I struggle to relate in any way to what Mandy and Jack experienced. There are so many references to drug-taking that I have to admit caused me to switch off slightly.
It is of course, great to hear from anyone that has caught the travel bug making a break for it and succeeding I just would have preferred less talk of ecstasy taking and more information on the places they visited.
There is mention of the LA riots of 1992 which happened after police beat Rodney King. I would like to have understood more about this incident, not really being aware of what happened or for what reason, but this has also glanced over in favour instead of other stories.
For me personally, this is not a book I could settle down and enjoy. I felt that the characters were not that developed and neither were their stories. It was very bitty in places and sporadic, going from one train of thought to something very random.
I am sure there are others out there who will disagree with me and really enjoy this read but for me, I was left feeling that I needed to know more rather than just knowing which country they were off to smoke weed in next.
Have you read a book similar to The Journey that you couldn’t really relate to? Did you finish the book?
Did you enjoy this article? Then PIN it for later…