Title: Dancing with Death: An Epic and Inspiring Travel Adventure
Author: Jean-Philippe Soulé
Genre: Adventure / Travel / Memoir / Non-Fiction
In this diary-style memoir, Dancing with Death follows two men on an experience of a lifetime.
When Jean-Philippe and Luke decide they want to kayak from California to Panama, nothing can stop them–except maybe turbulent weather, unpredictable tides, bull sharks, armed thieves, and the duo’s clashing personalities. What they take away from their journey are unforgettable memories and plenty of lessons learned about themselves and the world.
Jean-Philippe and Luke are travelers: they love exploring the world and engaging with people and cultures foreign to them. They come up with a plan to go on a kayaking expedition where they can learn about, experience, and document the beauty of indigenous cultures with the intention to help share and preserve the practices of these societies on their website.
It’s the perfect expedition, but they have a lot to learn before they can go–they barely have any kayaking experience and aren’t very strong swimmers. From the start, the men’s determination and drive to embark on the expedition is inspiring. Constantly fighting with the elements, sickness, and their own personal fears, readers will be amazed at the two’s resilience, and will find themselves rooting for the men to succeed on their journey.
The story switches seamlessly between Jean-Philippe and Luke’s perspectives and include intimate, up-close-and-personal details about the blood, sweat, and tears shed during the expedition. Transparent, honest, and emotional, the diary entries underscore the personal struggle each man undergoes individually and in their partnership.
The novel is packed with thrilling close-calls and stressful encounters with overwhelming sea action, serious illnesses, and suspicious locals. These intense, heart-pounding scenes reveal the unglamorous, frightening, and even life-threatening parts of their journey.
Included at the end of each chapter are photos from the various places Jean-Philippe and Luke visit. One of the highlights of the entire book, the photos are a refreshing, colorful, and vibrant contrast to the often serious tone of the text. The photos add a personal touch as they put faces to names of some of the beautiful people and places they meet.
At times, certain portions of the novel include extensive explanations about history, politics, or other technical details. Though helpful in providing background information, at times the language can be dense and make the text feel a bit heavy.
The connections the men make along their travels and the stories, teachings, and practices the indigenous people share are compelling and moving. Respect and love have no boundaries in the sweet conclusion to the novel, where Jean-Philippe shares a heartwarming reunion with the Mentawai tribe in Indonesia, who initially inspired the kayaking expedition.
How far would you push yourself to achieve the impossible? Jean-Philippe Soulé’s story of what the power of human will can accomplish is inspiring, emotional, and empowering. The diverse people, delicious food, and fascinating cultural traditions in Dancing with Death will amaze readers. Filled with adventure and excitement, Dancing with Death will leave readers dreaming of clear water, lush nature, and an unforgettable surge of inspiration to step out of their comfort zone and into the great wide world.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Editorial Review written by the Book Review Directory Production Team. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.