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Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana Paperback – March 9, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
AROUND THE BLOC is more than a coming of age story, dear Readers.
The following is a laundry list of what you're genuinely missing when you ascribe such facile titles to this amazing little read:
1) The wonderful (and many) impactful lines of prose that emanate from the pen of someone so young, yet with so much on the ball (at the time of writing, that is -- the "young" part, not the "on the ball" part). Griest is possessed of an awareness that few individuals of mixed ethnicity and/or race choose to properly acknowledge. Inside the pages of this book, Elizondo Griest attacks this concept with a doggedness and reckless deliberation that's so downright inspirational! I would like to travel in her wake.
2) There were several passages which I came across where I just had to place the book down beside me to take a deep "resetting" breath. How author managed to touch so many sensitive chords within me, I'm positive the effect was similar on the others. Ms. Elizondo Griest doesn't hold punches. When she refers to things like love, lust, heartbreak, depression, devastation, and sex, she does **precisely** that. When Griest refers to how pained she was when the man who meant everything in her life dropped her for the second time (in as many chances), you hurt right along there with her. If you don't, you don't have much of a emotional bone within your body. Someone so outspoken and delightful doesn't deserve to get hurt like that. At least this was my initial reaction.
3) This is a young woman who has criss-crossed the world and back again, all in an attempt to seek the answers for the most essential life-donning questions which those of us who take such things for granted are never inclined to ask. Essential burning questions of indentity.Read more ›
Some of Griest's experiences resonated with me, like the challenges of settling into life in a foreign city. Although I have never traveled through China or Russia, her amazing gift for story-telling made the places and people in her book seem surprisingly familiar.
I highly recommend "Around the Bloc"!!! And I can't wait to see where she travels to next!
I enjoyed Griest's stories. Her writing style is light. I can understand the criticisms of one earlier reviewer here who thought Griest was too superficial and didn't learn anything. I'm not sure that's really the case, but Griest does keep her narrative in the moment, without spending too much time analyzing what it all meant. This makes for a smoother telling of the story.
Griest spends the most time in Moscow and knew years ahead of time that she would go to Russia someday. This section was not surprisingly the best part of the book. The part about Beijing was okay, in which Griest works for an English-language Chinese newspaper. She never fits in and is constantly reminded of the fact. Her journey to Havana is a spur-of-the-moment trip, and it is more fun than Beijing. She doesn't have to worry about upsetting the boss or embarrassing her friends. Even though she's there for only a short time, she falls in love. She also falls in love in Russia, but only after she has been there quite awhile. And she never gets close to having a serious relationship in Beijing.
Around the Bloc is a good first book. It isn't as good as Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, another book about a journalist who finds adventures halfway around the world. Although it's more revealing, somehow it isn't as personal. But I suspect that Griest will only get better and I look forward to more from her.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this book to see what kind of people live in these cities before you visit or move. I gained an entirely new insight into Russia with this book. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Kristofer Ryan
While the concept is interesting, the story simply isn't engaging. This book is one of very, very few that I just couldn't bring myself to finish. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Meg
Stephanie Griest managed to spend a year abroad for school, obtain grants and jobs, and travel to several countries in the communist bloc. Read morePublished on July 5, 2013 by Buddha Baby
I had the good fortune of taking a travel/memoir workshop from the author in 2011 at the Mendocino Writers Conference. Read morePublished on January 10, 2013 by D. K. Bagshaw
Around the Bloc by Stephanie Griest was a book I had to read for one of my classes. Throughout the weekend it was assigned, I found myself carrying it wherever I went trying to... Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by Dwayne Wayne
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys travel and memoir writing. The writing is tight, gripping and disarmingly honest.Published on August 2, 2011 by Moacir Luz
My mom and I both recently read this book and our reactions were the same as we discussed our thoughts. When we were finished with the book, there was a sense of something missing. Read morePublished on September 18, 2007 by Kindle Customer
I could not put this book down. Her voice is refreshing and honest. I learned a lot about all of the places she lives in. Read morePublished on May 31, 2007 by Margaret Knoebel
This book energized me. Reading this book was almost as fun as traveling. I can't wait to visit Cuba. But this story is not just about travel. Read morePublished on May 1, 2007 by S. Lippe