Wiley-Jones’ coming-of-age travel memoir tracks her transition from a conservative religious upbringing to a more transcendent spiritual experience.
As a young girl, she savors various worlds through mission studies and missionaries, who visit her church. Ironically, her religious upbringing and unconventional mission experiences expand rather than narrow her views of the world.
Wiley-Jones’ mother, wise beyond her own experience, launches Rhonda into the world, discerning that travel is fundamental to growing up with options.
Each travel experience, a train trip across Arkansas alone at age fourteen, an excursion to the 7th Baptist Youth World Conference in Europe at fifteen, summer missionary service in Hawaii at seventeen, and a volunteer Baptist Student Union director in Salt Lake City as a college sophomore, each whet an appetite for learning more about people, culture, and travel.
Rhonda’s childhood forms a self- and religious-identity. And then over time, adventures in different cultures create a skeptical relationship with her church and generate an appraisal from a more discerning view.
At age twenty-seven, she pulls on a backpack to explore the United Kingdom and Ireland, solo. This final declaration of independence coincides with her departure from the denomination in which she grew up, but not her Christian roots.
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