Allen and Suzanne were seasoned travelers, and when Russia's Baltic states opened up for visitors in 1993, they eagerly embarked on a trip there. What they couldn't foresee were the record-breaking storms, desolate landscapes, and most significant, the cracks in their relationship that the trip would expose. Part love story, part edgy travelogue, and at times darkly humorous, Storm shows the fragility of human connections in the face of unexpected forces.
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It's clear reading Allen Noren's haunting travel memoir, Storm: A Motorcycle Journey Around the Baltic Sea, that some trips just weren't meant to be. Yet take a really good writer, expose him to adverse conditions, toss in tragically bad weather, and what do you get? In this case, a beautifully written, stirring story that gets better and better as the journey worsens. A diehard traveler, Noren had been exploring the far corners of the world for years when he and his girlfriend, Suzanne, pinned a map of the world to their bedroom wall and plotted out an adventurous, three-month route around the Baltic Sea. They considered traveling by kayak, by car, and eventually settled on the idea of riding a motorcycle. (Or rather, Noren settled on the idea and managed to convince his girlfriend that the bike would be the way to go.) Sadly, while Noren is completely exhilarated by the challenges presented by their used BMW, and indeed, feels totally one with the machine, Suzanne--surprise--hates it from the get-go. Screaming down the Autobahn in the driving rain at 85 mph, stumbling upon a motorcycle rally full of crazed, alcohol-induced biker revelers, and camping out nightly after long days on the road doesn't hold the same appeal for her that it does for him. The tale works on many levels, but at its best Storm is a poignant account of two people whose dreams have begun to diverge. It is also an exploration of the reasons we travel--and how those reasons can change, subtly at first, and then more dramatically, as we do. And finally, it is a descriptive travelogue, full of wonderful passages that bring the landscape of Sweden and Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to life. In short, this is a compelling book about a tumultuous and complicated journey. Storm is required reading for anyone even thinking about taking that round-the-world trip. --Kimberly BrownFrom the Inside Flap:
Begun as a grand adventure, Storm tells the story of a trip that quickly became a tumultuous test of endurance. When the Baltic States of the former Soviet Union opened up, Allen and his girlfriend were drawn to the prospect of traveling together once again. Setting out on a BMW motorcycle, the two seasoned travelers rode through Germany, Denmark, and Sweden to the Arctic Circle, then on to Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Though they'd been together for seven years, and thought they knew what to expect from an extended road trip, they couldn't foresee the unrelenting natural elements, shifts in once-shared dreams, or fissures in their relationship that lay ahead. Often darkly humorous, Storm reveals a couple's love and the fragility of human connections as it recounts the journey that became a test of both rider's physical and emotional endurance.
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