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Five Weeks in the Amazon: A backpacker's journey: life in the rainforest, Ayahuasca, and a Peruvian shaman's ancient diet Paperback – December 2, 2014
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"I had never heard of Ayahuasca before and your journey to track it down and experience it was fascinating...Thanks so much for sharing your book/journey will me, I was happy to go along!" - Cindy Morrison
"Your story is so honest and has many phrases that are written like poetry. I laughed and really felt your pain as well as your joy. Overall, I feel it is a story that many people can relate to, feel empowered by, and feel more connected to you by. Have you submitted to literary agents as yet? Again... thank you for reminding me of my inner power." - Carrice H
From the Back Cover
Could a shaman save me?
Or was I just looking for an excuse to get high?
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This is a spiritual journey of a man trying to make sense of his life. He flies down to Peru to spend time at Ayahuasca ceremonies with a reputable shaman. Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drug that makes people feel more empowered. It is legal for "religious ceremonies" just like peyote is in Arizona among the native tribes. Peru is making a great business of running shaman-led Ayahuasca ceremonies for wealthy westerners. I do not question the plant's innate powers of heightened introspection (its powers come when it is mixed with a second plant's compounds) . Many bloggers have already written convincing testimonials of how much better they feel after their first ceremony, if vomiting and diarrhea are truly heightened experiences for the soul.
The narrative is written in a simplistic manner in diary/journal format, something more suitable as a blog rather than a book. Hayes is a good story teller, but he needs to practice maintaining a steady flow with his tenses, his pace, and perhaps tone down his expletives and edit out his negative comments about Asians and the French. I was not expecting a person who makes money writing about his travels to call Frenchmen "frogs," for instance. Those comments are fine in a blog; not so fine in a book intended for a wider audience. He repeats himself when he goes on esoteric rants and I found myself skimming through those passages. There are still syntactical errors in the Kindle version I read.
Sean Michael Hayes is brutally honest in this story, and for that I give him kudos. He admits he has addictions, his constant reference to smoking weed, drinking alcohol and snorting cocaine are proof. He is honest about his life-long struggle with depression. He opens up about his first wife (who clearly did him both mental and physical harm) and confesses his love for his girlfriend. He spends a month in Iquitos, Peru enjoying Ayahuasca under the auspices of experienced shamans, yet still has bouts of depression. I understand why he wrote about his drug-induced trip to Peru, but in the end this feels more like an advertisement for the Ayahuasca resort he stayed at in Peru.
I see that Mr. Hayes is a new young author & I must give him credit for at least writing a book. It's not everyone who actually does try to do this. In fact I keep saying I'm going to do it too - but so far nothing. So I do admire the fact that he has made an attempt here & hopefully any critique of this book will only serve to help him in his next venture.
That said ....basically this book is about a skate boarding dude who drinks a lot and smokes pot alot. He travels around the world too & his goal is to "find himself". If you're a young male then perhaps this book would resonate with you more than it did me as I am an older woman.
He goes to the jungle to live with a shaman and to drink a certain potion that is made from plants there. He was hoping for some grand hallucination or mystical vision to give him the secret to life or what he needs to learn in his life.
He tells about living there and going through these ceremonies with other people who are staying there too. Yet, he is still smoking pot and it seems like he cannot give up his routine from his regular life enough to be open enough to experience what he wants to experience.
Honestly for me this story was too repetitive. He talks about himself and his actions and thoughts kind of like a running dialog. And it just was not that interesting to hear about multiple times.
I hoped the book would get more interesting as I continued reading. But it just didn't. What could have added more meat to this book would have been more descriptions of his surroundings in the jungle. Also more character development. That's why I even picked it to begin with. If I had spent 5 weeks in the Amazon jungles you can bet I would have had a lot to say just about that experience alone, even without drinking potions concocted by shamans.
My critique for the author would be to change the title: "Five Weeks in the Amazon" is rather misleading. It leads readers to think that is what your book is going to be about and it's not.
How about "Searching for myself while using the drug Ayahuasca". See right away people would know whether or not they have an interest in this book.
You have to know your audience & advertise your book to the right readers. I feel like you've gotten a lot of negative reviews simply due to an error in the Title. So think about that and if you are able to change the Title at some point please consider doing that.
Also if you have a FB page for your book or a website - you might want to really explain what this book is about so that you do attract the right people. I think you're book is geared for younger readers, like 20s or 30s. To guys & gals who are into sports like skateboarding or going on adventures.
I wish you luck Sean. I really do. Don't give up. I feel there are more stories inside of you to share - so keep writing & maybe have some different age groups read your book prior to publishing and get a feel for what they think first. They can also proof read it for any spelling or grammatical errors while doing this for you. Then use the feedback to do your final draft.