Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa

I read this book for my One Drink Minimum Book Club.  We have a round the world theme this month and this was the book selected.  I really haven’t digested it fully but I will say there were definite positives and negatives.  On the positive side, the author excelled at giving us a sense of place.  I really came away with a feeling for Bhutan and the way the people lived.  She also revealed political issues that I was not aware of within Bhutan and managed to “educate” without the reader feeling as thought they were being lectured or reading a book for school.  Being a teacher, I enjoyed the detail about the school system she was teaching in and was surprised with some of the details she revealed.

On the negative side, the author comes across as really self absorbed, which is sort of odd for a Buddhist (she converted during her time in Bhutan).   I think it was supposed to seem self reflective, but that was not what I took away from it. She makes some …interesting decisions and although she is living there and others point out “home truths” to her she seems to hold this idealized/idolized version on Bhutan.  I kept trying to remind myself that she was only 22 at the beginning of this journey and that youthfulness probably was the part of her voice that seemed self absorbed and impulsive to me.

On the whole, I am glad that I read it and I did enjoy learning about Bhutan.  If the topic of Bhutan or teaching abroad interests you, this is a worthwhile read.

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