Book Review: I Am the Ocean, by Samita Sarkar

Samita Sarkar thought she was destined to spend her entire life running.

Never giving herself a moment’s rest, she studied hard and graduated from university with top grades, and then promptly began a tireless job search. But although she thought that she had done everything by the book, life still hadn’t given her any answers. She knew that God had a plan, but what was it?

Stricken with anxiety while facing midsummer heat and sizable life decisions, the thrifty twenty-something Canadian—who had never before travelled for travel’s sake—purchased a discount bus ticket for what she thought would be a few weeks of reprieve in The United States. Embarking on her journey with nothing but a small suitcase, a broken handbag, a killer manicure and a copy of “The Bhagavad Gita,” Samita would spend her days wandering streets and beaches, and her nights in jostling buses or on cramped couches. Marvelling at the beauty around her, Samita finally discovered what the world has to offer to those who stop running, while learning lessons that would set the course of the rest of her life. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

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I Am the Ocean was a beautifully written novel; a chronicle illustrating the trials and tribulations that can come from a physical and spiritual journey. While I’ve barely stepped foot outside of the country I’m from, the adventure Samita takes us on made me yearn for travel, to embark on my own journey through places I’ve never been, to learn from cultures dissimilar to my own, yet in so many ways, exist in the same vein.

Through it all, she never loses focus on her spirituality. Not even when she’s tempted to. There are many roadblocks along the way, but Samita knows she’s going to be okay, regardless of the rough road ahead of her. She shares her own insights with the other adventurers who are out exploring, the ones who are complete strangers, but feel like kindred spirits. I was amazed at the level of trust she exudes. I don’t know if I could ever feel comfortable sleeping on someone’s couch who I’d only interacted with through online transactions, or share space with a plethora of other females who I’d only met that same day, but I think that’s part of the message here. That maybe it’s okay to rely on human compassion and kindness, even in the strangest of circumstances.

There was a time, years ago, when looking for an adventure wasn’t so out of the ordinary. I’m thinking of the ‘60s/’70s, when those seeking adventure would hitchhike their way across the country in search of enlightenment, in double slugbug VW’s, or out of commission school buses. Samita’s story reminded me of those days, a time where life was a little simpler, and we weren’t so encumbered with the heavy burdens life often throws our way. I really appreciate her views and the free-spirit she has, grounded within her spiritual beliefs.

Originally reviewed for Chick Lit Central

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