Notes from a Spinning Planet: Papua New Guinea

14 Aug

Papua New Guinea

Melody Carlson

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback: 230 pages. Now my copy of this book got lost in the Mexican mail, not very reliable down here. After over a month of waiting we thought it was lost for good so I bought the Kindle version, only to have the original copy show up at my door as I was 81% of the way through the book. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT BUY THE KINDLE VERSION. There were between two and five typos on every page and I don’t read it with tiny type. I was so distracted and annoyed by all the typos that it was difficult for me to read the book and may have played into the reason I didn’t like this book as much as the first. At times I couldn’t figure out what word they were trying to spell, other times a ??? or % replaced where a word was supposed to be. I could go on because it still really irritates me, but I won’t. I just beg of you, don’t do it!

Book Blurb:

After her life-changing journey to Ireland, twenty-year-old Maddie Chase feels ready for whatever she and her Aunt Sid will find on their trip to Papua New Guinea. But when she sets foot on the beautiful South Pacific island, she can’t help but wonder if it’s really the paradise she thought it would be.

As Maddie delves deeper into the culture and history of the land—and develops relationships with nationals who are eager to share their lives—she finds a tangled past that could help to explain the current health crisis. Will Maddie be about to see past the darkness to offer light to these gracious island people?

Join Maddie on her latest international adventure as she learns that maybe it is possible for one person to change someone’s world.

Stand alone or series: Second in the Notes from a Spinning Planet series.

Why I read this book: Same reason as the first, an interest in teen Christian travel novels.


At the end of their journey Sid says, “It was different from Ireland, wasn’t it?” And Maddie replies, “Well, they’re both islands, and they’re both green, but that’s about where the similarities end.” I had a very similar feeling about the books. For all it’s history with the IRA, Ireland was still fairly fun and light in comparison, with a dash of romance and a sense of mystery as they chase down clues about certain people’s pasts (vague, I know). There’s no chasing clues, no romantic undertones in this novel, only finding the right angle for a story on the AIDS crisis in Papua New Guinea (did I mention Sid’s a reporter?).

We learn much of the culture through how the people treat others with AIDS and how it is spread. Before landing in the country, Maddie and Sid are taught to fear just about everything about the country. Violent crime is rife in the country, robbery and rape are common and travel by car or bus is dangerous. Unlike, the spectacular country sides and mouth-watering food of the first novel, description in the first half of this novel is more likely to be about open sores and the squalor that those with AIDS are forced to live in. Seeing the living conditions of the people, especial those on the poor side of town can be very disturbing, it was for Maddie and for me. For the first half of the book I didn’t really look forward to picking the book up again. It was so sad, and you’ll see as my list of books grows, I don’t really like dwelling on the sad, at least not when it comes to entertainment.

The second half of the book lightens, somewhat as Maddie and Sid explore the countryside with their new friend Lydia. Lydia is a ray of light even amidst the darkness of the city. She volunteers at the AIDS clinic and her great ambition is to become a doctor so she can make a difference in her country when it comes to the AIDS problem. You learn and care more about Lydia as she takes them to her home town, to a big cultural festival nearby and another missionary village along the way. Through this leg of the journey there is more description of the land and customs. Though still sad, the novel manages to end on a hopeful note.

I am hesitant to recommend this book because it can be hard to read at times, not by reading level but by subject. Readers need to be aware that this novel is not like the first, though readers will still learn a lot about a people and a country that should maybe not be visited, at least not if things are still as described in the novel. I’m looking forward to checking out the next novel in the series, because it looks as if it may return to the lighter tone of the first and because it’s set in Mexico, and I’m interested to see another’s view on my adopted country.


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