Review

Four Corners: One Woman's Solo Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea

by Kira Salak



Papua New Guinea is considered one of the most difficult islands to
cross in the world, thanks to its wild countenance, its exotic
terrain, its difficult waters. In 1927 Ivan Champion, a British
explorer, became the first white man to make this treacherous
journey successfully. Years later, July 1992 to be exact, another
white traveler decided to take a shot at marking Champion's
illustrious crossing by becoming the first white woman to do the
same. However, Kira Salak wasn't some professional explorer with
the backing of a nation and years of experience in danger and true
life adventure. She was 19, a young college grad who left her safe
graduate school berth, a decent job, and a loving boyfriend to do
what most people told her would be impossible. Stubborn, dedicated,
with the pounding pulse of the need to move in her veins, Salak
went forward with her plan. The trip turned out to be anything but
what she thought it would be...and in the course of making the
journey, she learned more about herself than she ever thought
possible.

This could have been just one more nicely written "aren't I
amazing" stories if it weren't for Salak's choice of adventure.
Sure, there have been a million and one kids who have spent years
dodging academics and taking to the road --- but perhaps, thanks to
the recent events around the world, this book may become one of the
few that withstand the genre when it dies out (if you thought
hitchhiking was scary before, just watch out now!). Nonetheless,
Salak's destination, her ability to get herself out of what could
be life-threatening jams, and her belief in herself and her
instincts make FOUR CORNERS a fascinating and completely thrilling
story of adventure.

Her relationships with men fall under the microscope quite often as
she encounters so many new and interesting people. Guerilla
soldiers, errant deep sea divers, and a mysterious "Baptist
minister" who is essentially stalking her are just a few of the
strange souls that make their way across her traumatic path. No
matter where she is, however, Salak seems to have never forgotten
why she was so turned on by the thrill of this particular journey
--- the constant travails, the inhospitable terrain, mountains to
climb, endless rains to withstand --- and she is constantly
referring to the thoughts she finds deep within herself as she
pushes both her mental and physical selves to the brink of disaster
time and again.

FOUR CORNERS is not so much a great travel book as it is a
thrilling adventure story of a young woman on the precipice of her
adult life, testing her limits and finding none, questioning her
intents and finding only a deep and abiding purpose. Kira Salak
isn't a great writer but she easily finds the right pitch with
which to draw in the reader and maintain a compelling pace
throughout the entire book. A fun read.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

Four Corners: One Woman's Solo Journey Into the Heart of Papua New Guinea
by Kira Salak

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Nonfiction, Travel
  • Hardcover: 401 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint
  • ISBN-10: 1582431655
  • ISBN-13: 9781582431659