Book Review: Traveling With Ghosts: A Memoir by Shannon Fowler

Traveling With Ghosts: A Memoir by Shannon Leone Fowler

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Published: February 21st 2016 by Simon and Schuster

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From grief to reckoning to reflection to solace, a marine biologist shares the solo journey she took—through war-ravaged Eastern Europe, Israel, and beyond—to find peace after her fiancé suffered a fatal attack by a box jellyfish in Thailand.

In the summer of 2002, Shannon Leone Fowler, a twenty-eight-year-old marine biologist, was backpacking with her fiancé and love of her life, Sean. Sean was a tall, blue-eyed, warmhearted Australian, and he and Shannon planned to return to Australia after their excursion to Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand. Their plans, however, were devastatingly derailed when a box jellyfish—the most venomous animal in the world—wrapped around Sean’s leg, stinging and killing him in a matter of minutes as Shannon helplessly watched. Rejecting the Thai authorities attempt to label Sean’s death a “drunk drowning,” Shannon ferried his body home to his stunned family—a family to which she suddenly no longer belonged.

Shattered and untethered, Shannon’s life paused indefinitely so that she could travel around the world to find healing. Travel had forged her relationship with Sean, and she hoped it could also aid in processing his death. Though Sean wasn’t with Shannon, he was everywhere she went—among the places she visited were Oświęcim, Poland (the site of Auschwitz); war-torn Israel; shelled-out Bosnia; poverty-stricken Romania; and finally to Barcelona, where she first met Sean years before. Ultimately, Shannon had to confront the ocean after her life’s first great love took her second great love away.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild meets Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk in this beautiful, profoundly moving memorial to those we have lost on our journeys and the unexpected ways their presence echoes in all places—and voyages—big and small.

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A very tragic and heart-wrenching memoir. I received a review copy from Simon and Schuster, and boy am I ever glad I had the opportunity to read this memoir.
I firmly believe that things gravitate towards you just as they are meant to. This gorgeous book found me right when I needed it. I needed to witness the strength humans are capable of in times of distress and misery.

The collection spans a journey through years, and navigating through grief. We each handle the blows life give us differently, it was extremely interesting to see our beloved Shannon pour her soul out into the world and share her story with those she meets along the way.

Her writing style is simplistic, but beautiful and effective at the same time. When she speaks of her beloved and her loss, it reads like poetry and tugs at your heartstrings.
After the horrific death of Sean from a Box Jellyfish sting, other similar deaths were documented. Inserting the stories of other deaths made this experience that much more powerful and showed the strength of Shannon — others may have chose to focus solely on their loss, she chose to research and bring awareness.

The memoir comes full circle, in a certain way, showcasing that their is life after those we love the most — the ones we feel that we should have died alongside them. Early on we learn how much Shannon adores the ocean, her life revolves around it! Her fear of entering the water after Sean’s death is crippling. When she finally finds the courage to enter again, it is as though the heavens opened up and smiled down on her, assuring all is okay and those we love are always with us.

A wonderful book. An exploration across the world and a grand life lesson.
Cheers. I would recommend this to anyone…It is powerful in so many ways.
Thank you, Simon and Schuster for the review copy.

About Lisa Lunney

A Canadian gal that firmly believes words can change the world. An avid reader, writer and Autumn/Winter lover. She excels at communications and writes for pleasure and profession.
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