Book Review : Love at the Speed of Email


In Lisa McKay’s bookLove at the Speed of Email, the themes of home, hope, passion and purpose resonate throughout her choices of dating, career and family. McKay shares poignant moments of being on the road from her childhood in Bangladesh to working in Zimbabwe and weaves her work world, writing and search for meaning into her quest for love.

McKay, like many women who are single at significant birthdays, suffers many well-meaning discussions with friends and family about her choices and martial status. One family Christmas included outrageously inappropriate family gifts from toilet paper, a too large shirt and a book on International Adoption from “my younger, married, pregnant sister.” Even her gift from her best friend (the book–Spinsters Abroad: Victorian Lady Explorers) seemed to be an indictment of her life. It seemed everyone was conspiring against McKay’s love-life or lack of it.

Challenging airport encounters with strange men in Ghana and taxi drivers asking questions about not being married does happen to women traveling alone. McKay’s choices of being polite, running away, and having an imaginary boyfriend are understandable. But the family gifts seem enough to push an unmarried thirty-one year-old off the holiday edge wondering if she will ever find a life-partner.

From McKay’s novel, there seems to be evidence that children catch wanderlust from their parents. McKay’s parents told her grandparents before their move with three young children to Bangladesh: “Don’t worry. It’s only for two years. Then we’ll be back.” They did return after twenty-one years and seven countries. McKay often seems more at home in airports than anywhere else.

McKay had a penchant for humanitarian work even as a seven-year-old, upon arriving in Bangladesh, she wonders, did “God had run out of money halfway around the world?” After a return to Africa, she asks, “Why was there so much suffering in this world? Why did humans have such a talent for violence? … If God existed, if he were paying attention, why did he often seem so slow to act and so silent? And why had I been given so much while others had so little?”

Contemplating good and evil as well career-path choices with friends, McKay wonders if “our career choices are really more influenced by a cocktail of duty, fear, and apathy, or by talent, priorities, and passion. Alternate lives, at least one or two of them, often lie within reach.” This novel is her explanation of which life she chooses and how she got to where she is today.

Her desire for understanding her purpose and her place lead her to a new online friendship with a friend of a friend named Mike, whose first letter includes this praise for McKay’s writing: “Reading your essays was a breath of fresh air to my spirit.” Their personal chronicle is revealed in the tale and includes many of their email exchanges.

The reader will discover that both Lisa and Mike are in their early thirties and full of questions and indecision about the inequalities on our planet, their preferences to do the work they love and whether they will find love and fulfillment in their work and personal lives. McKay’s questions about her faith are fully disclosed and she often asks: “How a loving, good, omnipotent God could possibly stand to hold back and watch the bad unfurl alongside the good in the wilderness of freedom and choice.”

All of this access to autonomy and self-determination as well as a good Internet connection allows Lisa and Mike’s relationship to evolve in the story. Mike’s mom had one of my favorite lines in the book: “E- dating. What comes next, an e-marriage and e-kids?”

McKay quotes Basho who says, “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” McKay shares intimate details about her passage from an adolescent to an adult through her faith, her travels and her affairs, from a life of questions to one of happiness; reading this book you will journey with her to find home.

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip.

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