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Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Sons of Isan: Taking Refuge in a Thai Temple is a beautifully written and inspiring memoir by William Reyland. Born and raised in the American Midwest, the author had a good life. He had a nice house in a pleasant community with all the comforts of Western living. He performed with various jazz groups and taught music from his home studio. However, he felt that his life was pointless. He had studied with Thai Buddhists at a temple near his home and wanted to learn more. When his son turned eighteen, he decided to immerse himself in the culture of a Buddhist monastery in rural Thailand for a year. Giving away all his possessions, he went on a pilgrimage to a temple in Isan. In his book, he lets his readers experience his fascinating journey of spiritual discovery.
William Reyland’s Sons of Isan is an exhilarating memoir that takes us to a Buddhist temple in Isan. A master storyteller, Reyland writes with great attention to detail so that his prose evokes powerful images in our minds. There is no attempt here to romanticize the experience or teach readers about Buddhism from either a spiritual or theoretical perspective. Eventually ending up as an English teacher, a designated driver, and a monk was an extraordinary experience. At times humorous, at times contemplative, it’s a poignant tale of a man’s physical and spiritual journey to find meaning. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to leave behind the stress of modern life and stay in a Buddhist monastery, as well as those who want to discover the purpose and meaning of life. Highly recommended.