The Liar’s Guide to South America by Michael Delwiche takes you on a trip with Andrew Mozart, the aforementioned liar, who jumps on a plane and follows a girl he’s secretly in love with to Rio de Janeiro. His trip has him stalking Sarah from Brazil to Argentina, onwards to Bolivia and eventually catching up with her in Peru. Along the way he meets some typical characters from the gringo trail, gets into all sorts of trouble and reveals a few things about himself.
Before you start thinking Andrew is a hopeless romantic who sets off to another continent for love, despite a lack of cultural knowledge or traveler’s savvy, remember the title of the book. Juxtaposed against the easily recognizable format of the traveler’s bible (The Lonely Planet), Mozart’s adventures are a tale of lying to oneself and, perhaps, discovering what he is actually looking for. His encounters with Kerry and Roy launch him into the life of the backpacker and help him in his quest to find Sarah. The landscape of South America is really just a background to paint Andrew’s picture on, but if you have traveled there yourself the familiarity of place makes the story come alive.
As an avid traveler who has been to many of the places Delwiche includes in his tale, I was immediately engulfed in The Liar’s Guide, cringing when Andrew asserts that he has yet to learn Spanish even though he is in Brazil and frantically shouting at him when he fails to give in to a gun-point robbery. Having been there myself, I laughed at Andrew’s mistakes as a green traveler and recognized his transformation from uninformed tourist to traveler with fond memories.
Delwiche takes what could be just another travel novel about a young man finding himself and makes it a humorous tale of stalking through a web of lies. The Liar’s Guide to South America is a light read that any traveler will enjoy, finding himself somewhere among the pages.