Book Review: A New Journey by Samantha Kannan

Book Name: A New Journey

Author: Samantha Kannan

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3.7/5

Book Blurb: Jurnee is a recent college graduate struggling desperately to find a job as a teacher. Discouraged, she happens upon a chance opportunity to teach in a village in southern India. Overcoming anxiety, self-doubt, and cultural differences, she finds a home in her new surroundings. 

See India from her eyes as she narrowly escapes an arranged marriage, learns where cashews come from, encounters a king cobra snake, and finds love in the most unexpected of places.

Come along with Jurnee as she learns about herself and about a whole new world. Based on the author’s real experiences, you’re sure to be on the edge of your seat.

Review: Samantha Kannan is very active on quora where she recounts her experience of working and travelling in India. She has a great following and her honest answers have won her a lot of fans. Quora is where I first saw her writing and its a natural progression to recount these experiences in the form of a book.

A New Journey borrows heavily from the author’s experiences while working as a teacher for kids in a school in Kerala. It marks the start of a fascination with India and all things Indian.

Samantha is a debut author so naturally the writing is nowhere near what you’d expect from an established author. But A New Journey is a candid account of her time spent (teaching and travelling) in India. The volunteer-tourism experience in India has not been recounted well and Samantha’s book provides an honest review of what a new intern from a completely alien land must prepare for beforehand.

With little teaching experience and having lived a sheltered life with her parents in USA, she lands in India with little preparation. She discovers Indian hospitality, has some difficult experiences and discovers her teaching abilities among kids in a remote location in Kerala.

The cultural differences between the two countries are a surprise for her at first but she soon settles down.

“The only part that truly perplexed me was girls couldn’t get food and tea until the boys have gotten theirs and have sat down. Why was that?”

She gets help from strangers but it is her willingness to learn quickly that comes in handy. She manages to establish a close bond with the students but the frailties and the advantages of the Indian schooling system are also explored in detail.

“If there’s a line, the food will definitely be tasty, because everyone likes it. It’ll be fresh, because everyone is buying it.”

The students’ habit of addressing teachers constantly as “Miss” and her constant gratitude and “Thank You” make for some delightful read. The writing is pacy, sometimes not very well structured but this honest and personal account will reveal the true India- perhaps even to some Indians.

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