View From the Crow's Nest

A Young Woman's Global Quest for a Relevant Life

Non-Fiction - Memoir
306 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Luwi Nyakansaila for Readers' Favorite

After graduating from high school, Susan (Sue) goes to Europe for vacation and to visit her parents. While in Europe, she gets a taste for adventure, and when she returns to America, Sue questions many things in her life. She begins to desire more out of life. Sparked by her breakup with her high school sweetheart and the death of her friends, Sue embarks on a journey. She travels to Hawaii to find a job and joins a crew headed for the South Pacific Islands. She experiences romance and heartbreak but continues her adventure to places like Port Moresby, where she finds happiness, and eventually leaves for a short tour of Indonesia and later travels to India. Sue struggles with her purpose, emotions, and identity during her journey. She also learns much about other ethnicities, their politics, culture, food, and lifestyle. View From the Crow's Nest (A Young Woman's Global Quest for a Relevant Life) is a memoir of Susan Bradford's adventure and her journey of self-discovery.

Reading View From the Crow's Nest made me feel like a time traveler. The emotional ups and downs that Susan Bradford experienced on her journey led to her growth and independence. Sue changed from a girl who wanted to spontaneously abandon her crew to a woman who appreciated life and fought for other people's rights. Her story will make you reflect on important things like freedom, family, friends, and career. The author gives eye-opening experiences about racism, colonialism, war, and political unrest. Her compassion and love for others were heartwarming, and her personality came to life in the letters she wrote to her parents. Little details like her love for music and holidays showed how much she missed home and her family. I loved that she was vulnerable enough to admit she regrets not having children. Life is not always perfect, but when you get a chance to explore the world and its endless possibilities, take it.

Maria Victoria Beltran

View From the Crow's Nest: A Young Woman’s Global Quest for a Relevant Life is a compelling memoir by Susan Bradford. The story unfolds after Bradford graduates from high school and travels to Europe with a girlfriend. The journey to the Old World proved transformative as she started to answer questions of identity and meaning in life. She returned to the US as a changed person and attended college at Berkeley during the tumultuous 1960s. When one of her friends lost her life in a car accident, Susan experienced a deep sense of loss. Still seeking answers, she embarked on a two-year global quest by hitchhiking on sailboats after finishing college. Through her travels, Susan is transformed, and she returns feeling like a citizen of the world with a new sense of purpose and direction. This is her story.

Susan Bradford’s View From the Crow's Nest is a memoir that explores the timeless themes of identity, purpose, and the search for meaning in life. She writes in the first-person point of view and refreshes her memory from the close to forty letters she had written to her parents during her two-year odyssey. This makes her memoir engaging and highly credible. Her story is also informative as it effectively takes us back to the 1960s when the US was rocked by the assassination of President Kennedy and the aftermath of the Vietnam War. As a result, you feel emotionally invested in her journey; her ability to find purpose and direction is a lesson for anyone searching for purpose and meaning.

Philip Van Heusen

View from the Crow’s Nest: A Young Woman’s Global Quest for a Relevant Life is not a book about an adventure of a lifetime. Instead, Susan Bradford writes this book about a lifetime of adventures. Starting with spending the summer after graduating high school in Europe with her parents and best friend, Susan continues writing about her global adventures throughout her life. Susan’s adulthood started in the turbulent ‘60s when she joined the “Free Speech” movement, which morphed into the “Anti-War Movement” and the “Free Love Movement.” She was fortunate enough to sample the culture at her different stops. Her global adventures took her through Europe with her parents, then hitchhiking the Pacific. She spent time in places like Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Jakarta, and India. She met the locals in each location, learned from them, and appreciated their cultural heritage. This is an adventure you won’t want to miss.

Susan Bradford completed the remarkable feat of having a lifetime of adventures in only a few short years. Reading View from the Crow’s Nest will immerse you in various cultures. Susan tells her story in such a way you will feel like you are on the boat with her and visiting all the far-away places. Her adventures gave her a yearning to have a purposeful life that would enable her to serve others worldwide. After her travels, Susan went back to school and became a psychologist. Her desire to help others became a reality partly because she followed her heart and learned firsthand that many suffer. Reading this book—reading the letters she wrote home to her parents over fifty years ago—feels like Susan is sitting across from you, sharing her story in person. Enjoy taking a trip you won’t soon forget.

K.C. Finn

View from the Crow's Nest: A Young Woman's Global Quest for a Relevant Life is a memoir that explores travel, personal growth, and social issues. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by Susan L Bradford, it records the fascinating experiences of her own life and her search for meaning. From her college years in the new age times of the 1960s onward, Bradford begins a quest to see more of the world, help whoever she can, and find her place and perspective. The account takes us through her life, her activism, her passions, and her search for harmony within herself.

Susan L Bradford has crafted a fascinating memoir that delivers an honest, upbeat, and enthusiastic glimpse into her exploration of the world, and in doing so, she teaches a much wider lesson about grabbing life with both hands and finding out what it is you were put on this earth to do. I was deeply engaged by the atmospheric writing style, which brings to life different counties, cultures, and people that Bradford meets along the way to finding her purpose and makes readers feel like they’re right there on her shoulder, totally immersed in the moment. The narrative is also friendly and accessible, without the need for complexities in the language, and yet the more thought-provoking concepts about life are deeply felt and well-expressed. I would not hesitate to recommend View from the Crow's Nest to fans of well-penned memoirs that offer plenty of poignant food for thought.

Joe Wisinski

View from the Crow's Nest: A Young Woman's Global Quest for a Relevant Life by Susan Bradford is a true story about a young woman’s search for meaning and satisfaction. The book is set in the late 1960s, so the background is the war in Vietnam and the social upheaval in the United States. Bradford had just graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She began to travel, including hitchhiking, not because she didn’t have a car, but because she wanted to talk to whoever would pick her up. Eventually, she started a different type of hitchhiking - on boats. The term crow’s nest in the title refers to Bradford being up high up in a ship’s rigging as a lookout. She ended up sailing around the world, visiting Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, and other places. The uniqueness of the book lies in the dozens of letters that Bradford wrote to her parents while on her adventures. Those letters were kept by her mother and Bradford includes them verbatim to tell her readers about her adventures and attitudes at the time she wrote them.

View from the Crow's Nest by Susan Bradford is a fascinating read. The author is open and honest about her journey of trying to find who she is and to find meaning. Although the book is not intended to be a historical or sociological work, it does examine the state of the world in the late 1960s. Bradford doesn’t try to color the past with subsequent events in her life or who she is today. Instead, she lets the letters that she wrote to her parents speak for themselves, showing her feelings at the time. Although few people have undergone the experiences that Bradford did in sailing around the world, she also writes about matters that everyone can identify with, such as the heartbreak she felt after the end of a romantic relationship. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a well-written, honest, compelling story.