Verdict: THE SOJOURNERS is a joyous and entertaining trip through 1980s Europe, as seen through the eyes of a naive but thoughtful young man with a gift for words.
In 1984, Michael Hogan, a young man getting over a broken heart, decides that the best way to do this is to go to London with a group of friends and get into music video production. That dream lasts about two days before he and his friends realize there are no such jobs available, but they decide to go adventuring around Europe anyway. From pubs in England to Oktoberfest in Munich, and from there to sunny Greece and Turkey, Mike finds himself exploring new worlds, increasingly foreign to him, and meeting a delightful variety of oddball fellow travelers and residents.
THE SOJOURNERS is a vivid and engaging travelogue, told with humor, warmth, and a vivid appreciation for the beauty of the everyday seen through new eyes in a different place. Mike’s wide-eyed young adult innocence is endearing, whether he’s having a bad reaction to “space cake,” having a wordless “conversation” with an older Turkish gentleman in a railway car, or falling in love with a travel companion. Other characters move in and out of the story, joining forces with Mike for short or long periods, enlivening the story with their antics, arguing over politics or philosophy, flirting, mourning, dancing, getting drunk, and above all experiencing life in their own individual fashion. The tale of Mike’s travels is told in expressive, poetic language, drawing the reader into a timeless, immersive experience.
For the most part, it’s a pleasant romp, full of the freedom of relatively affluent youth without careers or families to tie them down, ready and eager for new experiences and new views of the world. There are somber moments – most notably at Dachau, of course – but also madcap humor, a bit of tender romance, and some lyrical awe at how beautiful the world, and the people in it, can be. Don’t come into this book looking for a story with a defined plot, a clear beginning, middle and end – it’s an experience, a journey meant to be cherished as an end in itself, not a mere means of reaching a destination.
THE SOJOURNERS is a joyous and entertaining trip through 1980s Europe, as seen through the eyes of a naive but thoughtful young man with a gift for words.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader