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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Road tripping as a form of self-searching is a theme that is no stranger to literature. The writer ventures into parts unknown to discover and inspire him with new realities he would not find in the corners of his writing space. In Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure, Johnny Welsh documents his sixteen-day road trip with his girlfriend Kristy Smith into the uncommon parts of America. From Frisco, Colorado through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, into Mexico and then back to Frisco, Welsh and his girlfriend return after 16 days on the road with a refreshed and sharper awareness of themselves, of people, and of places. The interesting rationale behind this road trip is Welsh’s resolve to go unplugged--to eschew any forms of technology so as to revive deteriorating interpersonal connections that gnaw upon society in the age of mobile gadgetry.
Welsh admits to going unplugged for at least 95 percent of the duration of the trip. The remaining 5 percent involved using technology only as a last resort like texting his Italian mother who specializes in inducing guilt. The rest of the adventure is a study in the purity of old school practices. Paper Maps, No Apps is delivered in a casual and humorous treatment of places, people, and events. We don’t mind hopping into the backseat to join Welsh and his girlfriend in re-exploring the overlooked wonders and quirks that define the American identity. This adventure reminds us that technology, for all its advantages at making our life connected, can never replace the aesthetics of a face to face encounter and the lessons we can learn in a genuine world.