Review: Monsoon Rains and Icicle Drops by Libby Southwell

Monsoon Rains and Icicle Drops is a memoir written by a founder of AdoptSriLanka, a charity which aims to help people reestablish their livelihoods after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. Partial proceeds from the book go to AdoptSriLanka, so I feel a little bad that I loaned it from the library instead of buying it. Libby starts the book in a Mongolian ger, saying it’s about as far away from home as you can get. She’s cold, miserable and missing the love of her life. You can tell this is not your average adventure. The next few chapters go into Libby’s life before she travels – her early working life, getting engaged to her boyfriend Justin and his tragic death in a climbing accident and then the deaths of several close friends. Desperate to get away, Libby takes a high stress job in Sri Lanka, but soon finds she needs to get away again and in finding some of the most obscure parts of Asia, find herself.

Libby travels through Asia for the next year, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends or new associates. She travels through Sri Lanka and India, into Nepal and Tibet and the southern parts of China. She heads up to Mongolia to spend time with migrating herders in the desert. I don’t want to go into the minutia of her travels, I want you to read the book for yourself. While it describes the sights and sounds (and smells) of mainland Asia, this book is so much more than a travel narrative. Libby opens her very soul and pours out the heartache and sorrow she feels about the loss of her beloved Jus. And somehow, wandering ancient pilgrim paths and living emerged in the cultures she is visiting, Libby comes through her grief and emerges stronger.

It sounds like a coming of age memoir for grown ups, doesn’t it? And it is, but not in an overbearing way. And Libby really threw herself whole-heartedly into the places she visited – the book is an anthro students dream travelogue and I read the entire thing in a night and wanted more once I was done. Forget Eat Pray Love and read this instead (or if you enjoyed it, try this as well).

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Filed under Biography, Memoir, Travel

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