Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Review: A Sense of Direction by Gideon Lewis-Kraus - Non Fiction

A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful

A Sense of Direction by Gideon Lewis-Kraus is a descriptive explanation of his personal pilgrimagesto the Camino in Spain, the Shikoku in Japan and the Uman in the Ukraine. It appears that these journeys begin as a result of many questions about having a sense of direction in his life. He is at the time living in San Francisco.

In his quest for a sense of direction he ventures out to Berlin and then from there decides to walk the Camino. He surmises that this pilgrimage would give meaning to his life. He coaxes a friend to accompany him on this journey. Throughout their walk along the Camino they meet a variety of people who they engage in conversation or not. They befriend some while they ignore others. It was during this walk that Lewis-Kraus converses with a Japanese couple who talk about the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan. This perks Lewis-Kraus who now wants to do this pilgrimage. He is warned that it is a difficult walk through 88 temples on a Japanese Island.

After completing the Camino, Lewis-Kraus returns to Berlin with a visit to Shanghai before he proceeds to Shikoku. He convinces his grandfather to do it with him for part of the way. Once again, Lewis-Kraus converses with different people on this journey when his grandfather leaves him alone to complete the pilgrimage.

His third pilgrimage is with his father and brother to Uman in the Ukraine. This is a Jewish pilgrimage. During this time he develops a more kindly relationship with his father as they dissect and review the purpose of this particular pilgrimage and what it means to the three of them being of Jewish descent.

Throughout his writing, Lewis-Kraus tells stories of the people he meets, his conversations with them and the varied reasons for doing these pilgrimages. He narrates his lack of relationship with his father and recalls many unhappy memories of his father. He is angry at his father and determines he is not capable of forgiving him unless his father is upfront and honest with him and his brother. Lewis-Kraus is seeking an apology before he is able to forgive his father.

The pilgrimage to Uman brings them closer as they appear to have come to accept, with peace, each other’s lifestyles.

A Sense of Direction is a personal account of the author’s journey. Throughout the writing the reader discovers the nuances, sad experiences accompanied by some joyful experiences of the life of Gideon Lewis-Kraus together with his interactions with his family and friends.

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