Book Reviews

Book Review: Prepare for Departure

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By Mark Chestnut

Publication Date:  July 26, 2022

292 Pages

I don’t normally gravitate to memoirs, but I really liked the cover and title and the first chapter grabbed me.  In it, the author was busy designing his own airline with an in-flight rock band, only to be reminded by his mother that if he didn’t pass seventh grade, he could kiss his dreams of launching an airline goodbye.

There was a lot to love about this book.  The author, an established travel writer, hopscotches between memories of growing up with a single mother during a time where there weren’t many single-parent households, and settling his mother into an assisted living facility to prepare for her end of life.  I can’t really sum this up better than what’s on the jacket cover – that through his memories, the author “faces death by revisiting life.”

Some of the stories are chuckle worthy – particularly the annual pilgrimage to his mother’s hometown in Kentucky.  Some of the stories are poignant.  This is, after all, a coming to terms with his mother’s declining health and eventual death.  For that, I applaud this book.  Anyone who is going through the same things themselves might find solace here.

“Prepare for Departure” interpreted by Wombo Dream

However, I really wanted more emotion out of the narrative, particularly the childhood memories. I felt like the author glossed over stories that could have been really funny and poignant at the same time, if only he’d delved into them more.  Not that I need to read on the level of Augusten Burroughs every time I dive into a memoir, but it almost seemed like the author held himself back.  Like he was a narrator rather than a participant.  Of course, I suppose that comes down to voice, which seems to be what makes or breaks my ratings recently.  

This is a worthy read – especially if you grew up questioning your identity or are dealing with your parents’ (or any loved one’s) old age and mortality.  And while it might not make my list of top-rated books this year, I’m glad I requested it.

I gave this memoir 3.25 stars.  ⭐⭐⭐+

Thank you to BookSirens for providing the ARC of this book.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.


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