If you’re looking for some pretty common sense advice about doing what will make you happy in life, “Burning the Map” by Laura Caldwell is the perfect novel to pick up.

Targeted at upperclassmen and recent college graduates, “Burning the Map” tells the story of Casey, a recent stressed-out law school graduate who has a flawless future ahead of her.

Not only did Casey perform phenomenally in law school and is practically guaranteed to pass the bar exam, but she also has a job waiting for her at a top firm in Chicago and a steady boyfriend with a stable job that she has dated for years.

Casey takes a trip as her last big bash before she enters the real world and starts her job at the law firm. Accompanying Casey on the trip are her two friends, Lindsey and Kat, from her undergraduate college years. Because of all the pressure of law school and her tendency to spend all of her free time with her boyfriend, Casey isn’t as close with Kat and Lindsey as she used to be.

Throughout the trip Casey begins to open up and confide in her friends again and learns that money and a stable future aren’t the key to her happiness.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Italy, later the Greek islands, Caldwell makes the scenery come alive. Colorful, rich descriptions are enough to make you keep reading just to read about the next destination.

Each character in the novel is well-developed and seems real, from the bartenders the three women meet right down to the local people they run into.

The three women themselves are strikingly different, making them all the more realistic, and also making a sure bet that the reader can relate to at least one of them.

Casey is the goal-oriented go getter, Lindsey is serious and career-minded, only having dated one guy in her twenty-something years and Kat is the flirtatious member of the group who loves to have fun.

Adding even more appeal is the overall daringness of these three women. Casey and Kat repeatedly do the unthinkable in almost any situation, making the conservative reader jealous of their constant adventures.

Caldwell does a flawless job of creating reality, from the characters, to the setting, to the interactions among the characters.

Caldwell knows exactly how to appeal to the 18 to 20-something audience – possibly even older – because the story is so fun and full of rich descriptions, she creates an entertaining book that is impossible to put down, and leaves you waiting for her next novel.

Egan can be reached at cegan@campustimes.org.

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