September 2015

Journey to a ‘nice Pacific island’

By Alex Sheshunoff
Review by
Call it the male answer to Eat, Pray, Love.
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Call it the male answer to Eat, Pray, Love

Alex Sheshunoff was running a not-particularly-successful Internet startup in the late 1990s when he decided to walk away from it all: his Manhattan apartment, his girlfriend, his world. A health scare had landed him in the emergency room, where he vowed to turn his life upside down if he survived.

“I’d been screwing up my life, I thought, pissing away years on this failing company, this failing relationship, this . . . materialistic city and its dead-end ideas of success, this hope that enough hours at work could make me rich, my parents proud, and democracy stronger,” Sheshunoff writes.

His plan, as much as he had one, was to find paradise and move there. To give this journey a little more heft, he would read 100 great books while traveling. He started where any 20-something probably would: He googled “nice Pacific island” and eventually found a message on a travel site pointing him to an island called Yap. 

Sheshunoff traveled to Yap, which was interesting in that the island’s residents used enormous round stones as currency and the women all went topless. But it was not quite paradise. He meandered on to other hot, tiny islands with names like Pig and Tinian, making some quirky friends along the way. It was on the island of Koror, in the Republic of Palau, that he met Sarah. They hiked, they kayaked, they swam with jellyfish, and bit by bit, they fell in love. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise is extraordinarily entertaining, one part guidebook to two parts love story. This heartfelt account reveals what can happen when you leave everything behind—and find more than you ever hoped for.


This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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