Aussie Book Review: Tsunami and the Single Girl by Krissy Nicholson

tsunami Tsunami and the Single Girl by Krissy Nicholson

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Allen & Unwin, August 2013

 Synopsis- Set in humanitarian disaster zones around the world, Tsunami and the Single Girl is the story of Krissy Nicholson’s journey to become an aid worker and her (seemingly) never-ending search to find a soul mate.

As a free-spirited traveller, Krissy–now almost thirty–needs her life to start taking shape. So how does a wild night on a dance floor in Vietnam land her a sought-after role in Oxfam working in emergency relief? And how does the excess of the expatriate scene, a string of Mr Wrongs and failed romances lead to self-discovery and ultimately self-fulfilment?

Against the backdrop of adrenalin-fuelled disaster response, Krissy begins to understand the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Whether co-ordinating emergency relief work in-the-field, or trying to find love in all the wrong places, Krissy takes us on a heartfelt and surprising adventure.

Review- I’ve always had a soft-spot for a travel memoir, especially when it’s about an Aussie girl who gives up the luxuries of life to live with only the necessities in exotic locations around the world. What can I say, I like to live vicariously through the adventures of others. Tsunami and the Single Girl is one of those books that fit neatly into this category for me.

Krissy Nicholson breaks her leg on a dance floor in Vietnam, but she still rocks up to an Oxfam interview on crutches, discloses how she got the injury and somehow ends up with her first Oxfam role working in HR and recruitment based in Melbourne.

It’s not long before she gets itchy feet and wants to get out into the action, to get hands on experience with all the stuff she trains and prepares new recruits for. A new position becomes available in HR in Bangladesh and Krissy throws herself into the role with lots of passion and hard work. From Bangladesh she moves onto Pakistan in the aftermath of a bombing, recuperates in Melbourne and then assists in Tsunami aid relief in Sri Lanka for almost a year before returning to Pakistan in the aftermath of an earthquake, finishes her role in Sri Lanka and then returns to Melbourne.

It’s not all fun and games for Krissy; she experiences intense loneliness, she parties too much, drinks too much, takes many exotic lovers but there’s always a sense that something is missing. Krissy is on her quest to find Mr Right, she wants to get married and have a family but that lifestyle isn’t quite in sync with the one she leads. She’s always leaving one place for another and her love affairs are inherently flawed within the confines of the work that she and her lovers are involved with. There’s heartbreak, an unexpected pregnancy, serious health problems and many other challenges that arise in Krissy’s pursuit of finding love. Is getting married incompatible to international aid work? Krissy begins to think so… and when she realises Mr Right seems to be getting further and further out of reach Krissy re-enrols in University to undergo a course in Health Promotion to achieve another dream… to work in Africa- a place she’s been forever drawn to since a clairvoyant told her she’d meet a doctor in Africa whom she’d marry.

Following an extended break in Melbourne, a Uni degree, a back operation and a bout of depression, Krissy accepts a role in Africa where she finally gets to work in health promotion. Though she doesn’t meet her doctor she does fall in love with a guy in the American Army who is also working in Africa. For a  moment there Krissy believes all her dreams have come true… but a long-distance relationship places much strain on them and Krissy experiences overwhelming grief and heartbreak when this relationship inevitably ends.

What I loved about this story is the contrast of the idealistic view (that I often have) of travelling and aid work against the realities of this lifestyle. There’s plenty of reward and satisfaction in the job but Krissy also makes a lot of sacrifices. She’s not perfect either and the jobs take her away from her home, her family and her support network, leaving her vulnerable to unsavoury company and tough choices about what she values in life. But it wouldn’t be a travel memoir about a woman searching for love if it didn’t have a happy ending. I’m so glad she included the epilogue… a reminder that what we are looking for in life could be right under our nose!

Tsunami and the Single Girl is a travel memoir that will appeal to those who enjoy reading about travels and like a happily-ever-after ending. The protagonist is flawed but reflective and this makes a perfect mix for a memoir of this style.

Overall Rating

4/5

“I loved this book!”

Tsunami and the Single Girl can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

This book was read as part of the AWW2013 challenge:

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