A Squatter in London by Irene Pylypec is a captivating account of a young woman’s experience as a traveller – not a tourist.
Shortly after college, Irene saves enough to fulfill a long time dream of vacationing in London. A planned three week trip becomes almost a year, after she falls in love with London and finds work. Finally, entangled in a squatter’s household, her boyfriend back in Ireland, she’s ready to go back to Canada.
Irene’s personable tone brings London to life. Not only are popular and little-known landmarks described, running commentary about the people she meets, how things make her feel (Oh, London, how I love you!) and her thought processes make the reader feel on the scene. For example, she compares the struggles of the Irish immigrants with whom she shares a squat to her Ukrainian immigrant dad. She discusses the political climate that leads to the necessity of squatting. The action isn’t in the past; the exclamations and visceral details, including reconstructed conversations, happen now, as if we’re right alongside her.
Irene’s resourcefulness as a single traveller comes through in her unflagging writing. She manages to find her way through a few dicey encounters as a hitchhiker, a few missed trains, and bouts of homesickness and the blues just as her writing keeps trucking ahead, too. She’s not interested in consuming the pleasantries the United Kingdom has to offer, but to take it all in, good and bad alike. There’s never a dull moment in the action; it’s always on to the next adventure! She’s as upbeat in her verbs as she is in her determination to cross off all the to-do items on her itinerary. Pictures and further reading supplement the text at the end.
A Squatter in London is more than a journal or a travelogue. It’s a personal, factual narrative of a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a new place that inspires readers to travel!