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Enlightenment for Idiots (2008)

Amanda is at a point in her life where she is unhappy with the way everything has turned out. Close to turning 30, she is in a dead-end relationship with a guy who is completely unavailable on a physical and emotional level and a job that she doesn't really like - writing "For idiot" guide books. The only thing that keeps Amanda grounded is her yoga sessions. So, when her editor asks her to go to India to write a book called Enlightenment for Idiots, Amanda jumps at the opportunity. How hard can it be to find enlightenment in India, home to all of the greatest gurus in history? Very, very hard as Amanda soon finds out. India is a dirty place, with trash littering the streets and beggars on every corner. Amanda goes from ashram to ashram looking for the key to enlightenment to no avail. After a few weeks, Amanda is tired, dirty (so much so that she has grime around her neck from not showering) and extremely lonely. When she meets a celibate, dreadlocked American Shadu called Devi Das who speaks about himself in the third person, Amanda takes his friendship and runs with it. The pair travel to all the best holy sites in India, meeting with all of the most divine gurus, who they are sure will provide them with the key to enlightenment. When Amanda becomes unexpectedly pregnant - with the baby of her unavailable boyfriend who does not want kids - she cannot decide whether to quit her journey and head home to California or stay and have her baby in a foreign land. The descriptions of India are rather riveting and oddly depressing at the same time. Almost every chapter has Amanda encountering beggars with only one eye or children with no limbs. The story itself would be more interesting if there were some happy or upbeat moments that showed the beauty of India - there had to be something good about it! For those of you looking for a little spirituality mixed in with your chick lit, this book is for you. (AS)

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