ISBN #: 978-1463525286
Page Count: 240
(Taken from back cover)
After an old college buddy persuades him to guide a group of Americans traveling through Japan, Phil Fletcher's debut as a tour guide takes his life in unexpected directions. The group includes a high-powered career woman who finds far more than historic sights in the Land of the Rising Sun; a man who discovers a hidden interest in Japanese erotica; a neglected wife and a Southern belle vying for attention on Phil's futon; and a retired couple facing their deepest fears on the much-anticipated trip of a lifetime. Private dramas provoke crises and life-changing decisions during this twelve-day tour of Japan, as the group travels from the serenity of ancient Kyoto temples to the towering heights of Tokyo skyscrapers.
The main character of Getting Oriented is Phil Fletcher, a recently unemployed, recently widowed man struggling to find his way from the remains of his former life. An old acquaintance hears of his loss and talks him into guiding a tour through Japan. With the former guide's notes, and a "smattering" of the Japanese language, Phil embarks on a 12 day tour of "Japan: Old & New" with a varied clientele of ten.
Each of his guests have their own personal "itinerary" or journey that weaves together nicely with the fascinating tour highlights and impressive insights to Japanese culture.
While there was a lot of information about Japan and its people, especially its social intricacies, which I found very interesting, there is an entire storyline filled with interesting, flawed people. We find out about each of them through their interaction with Phil, and as they interact, Phil finds out about himself. Slowly, a sort of awakening occurs in the characters' lives, and they all band together to save one of their own.
Much detail was given to the characters so that you could identify with their struggles. Although Phil is at first a cynical, lonely man, I couldn't help but hope for him to find his peace. Getting "oriented" is defined as getting intellectually, emotionally or functionally directed. Mr. Wood definitely plays on this premise in the writing of his novel. A very enjoyable book, written with great skill and knowledge of its subject. If you have any interest in the subject of Japan, this is a great place to start.