If you enjoy a fast-paced read and a true story, Five Weeks in the Amazon is the book for you. It's packed with humor, full of unexpected twists and there is never any way to know how it will end. Author Sean Michael Hayes has written a book in a similar style to current blockbuster success, Cheryl Strayed's "Wild". His adventure puts him face to face with universal problems that we all must overcome in life. His search is a desperate attempt at something he has fought for since first being diagnosed with depression--how to live a happy life.
Hayes presents solutions which seem like wins not just for himself, but for the reader that's right there with him. Want to find out what happened to a backpacker that hiked alone into the Amazon jungle and live with a shaman? Buy the first edition now. (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
Frankly I alternated between finding this book very interesting and at time insightful and being frustrated with the narration.
The pros: The author is a very spontaneous, non-planner who goes for a trip to Peru to “find himself” as it were. This is a story that’s been told many times, but what makes him different is that he wants to do so by taking Ayahuasca (a drug derived from cactus) frequently for five weeks. I found at times Sean’s insights about focusing on “the big picture” and ignoring the insignificant stuff pertinent reminders of what is important in life. I also found myself craving healthier foods reading about the special diet you must follow when taking Ayahuasca.
The cons: I found Sean’s commentary often repetitive and as a person I felt he came off poorly at times. The book reads as a journal and things would be mentioned and then repeated just a few pages apart. Additionally, throughout the books he references himself as “non-judgemental” (then judges people around him), “smarter than average” (says “Fuck it” and then proceeds to do things he knows are a bad choices) and having “seen a lot more than most people”. Honestly, I also did not need to know about his sexual fantasies about his girlfriend either. I understand telling the full truth, but somehow this was not executed well for me. He is also a staunch atheist and does not leave room in the narrative to acknowledge there may be other ways of seeing his experiences, which rubbed me the wrong way. I would have enjoyed hearing more about what led him up to the journey (what’s the story with the bipolar misdiagnose?) and about the spiritual discussions with the people he encountered along the way.
All in all, I think the same message could have been given in fewer pages and it may be a lot more powerful. I can think of many other people who would find it fascinating, but personally it was not my cup of tea.
Warning: Contains significant drug use
Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review courtesy of the author.
Rating: 2 stars!
Who should read it? People looking for a story about an alternative spiritual refresh and/or Ayahuasca experience.