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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Nepal One Day at a Time is a nonfiction travel memoir written by Patti Shales Lefkos. She and her husband had always been travelers and adventurers and had explored out-of-the-way places all over the world. Then her husband had critical health issues while they were in Nepal several years earlier, and, just as they were working on the details for their next trip to Nepal, Barry’s Achilles tendon ruptured. It would be some time before he would be able to exert himself as he normally did. And did they have time? Did she? She was still processing Barry’s brush with mortality and a close friend’s recent battle with cancer, and there was her older sister who was declining courtesy of Alzheimer’s disease. Would she be next? When her friend and yoga instructor, Gillian, introduced the subject of the new class she was leading, Lefkos knew it was her time to challenge her limitations. Lefkos remembered conversations with Raj, their Nepali guide, about the difficulties encountered in providing education to all the children in Ratmate. She wanted to go there and do something about it. And her background as a teacher and principal made her uniquely qualified. Leaving Barry at home would be brutal for both of them and gathering the confidence to step out on her own would be a challenge, but she could and did do it.
Patti Shales Lefkos’s Nepal One Day at a Time is a marvelous recounting of the author’s experiences in Japan on a sea kayaking expedition before heading on to Kathmandu. Her dismay at the chaos of those early days teaching at the Bhairabi Primary School comes out loudly and clearly, and her frankness about how all her years of teaching hadn’t really prepared her for their needs is refreshing. I love reading travel memoirs about Nepal and found Lefkos’s a particularly inspiring one. While most of the books I’ve read were focused on the climbs and treks the authors took, this author was set on making a positive change in the educational system in Nepal. Her well-written and honest memoir kept me engaged and motivated. I particularly appreciated Rajendra Nevpane’s maps of Dharapani and Ratmate as well as the marvelous photographs interspersed throughout the book. Patti Shales Lefkos also includes a Reading Guide and a full listing of Resources including books, websites, and DVDs. Nepal One Day at a Time is most highly recommended.