Part travelogue, part memoir, Wherever the Road Leads will satisfy any reader’s wanderlust. The author, Katie Lang-Slattery, and her then-husband Tom, traversed four continents in their VW bus from 1971-1973. I don’t have the courage to abandon my life to become an itinerate traveler, but I revel in reading the experiences of people who have that tenacity, like the author and her husband.
I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Lang-Slattery used many of her own illustrative drawings and her husband’s photos from their odyssey. Maps were included at the beginning of each section, detailing the routes along each leg of their journey. I found these maps to be both extremely helpful and aesthetically pleasing, as was the timeline in the back of the book.
Slattery is a good writer. Her smooth prose is injected with warmth, humor, and insightful observations of the many cultures she encountered. I enjoyed the sights, tastes, and details she relates experiencing on travels from Mexico to India, and many points between. I loved her descriptions and drawings of the regional clothing, recipes she tried, and the local cuisine. She also included a drawing of their van’s interior, fitted for habitation, a visualization I appreciated.
Slattery consulted the letters she had written to relatives during the course of their two-year jaunt to jog her memory. Her ex-husband assisted with information and lent his numerous notebooks, where he had jotted down every last cent spent. I marveled at his ingenuity, creativity, and talent for fixing or crafting just about anything they needed on the trip. The author shared personal feelings about her spouse, their fights, and the strains of living a mobile life style. After their magnificent trip ended, she continued with a brief account of their family life in California, although the couple divorced in 2003.
I enjoyed traveling vicariously with the adventuresome duo as they visited so many countries–some that underwent drastic transformations shortly after their trip, like Iran. Reading this book was experiencing a window of history, during a pivotal decade, pertaining to travel without the convenience of modern technology.