Arkie, a former (and now failed) professional trendspotter, is in Byron Bay, having recently lost her partner and considering suicide. For her, the world seems deeply mysterious in a way it isn’t for others. She is contemplating the final step to end her life when she is unexpectedly approached by a young Japanese tourist with a radical agenda, who instantly engages her.
As a result of this meeting, Arkie convinces the woman, Haruko (a former prostitute), to help her revitalise her flagging career. Pilgrimages, Haruko claims, are the next big thing, a way in which people can transform themselves. Haruko’s behavior leads Arkie to believe she has the gift of trendspotting -- in fact, she is even better at it than Arkie was in her prime.
Haruko, she decides ‘is a genius of metamorphosis’, and it is through her new friend that Arkie begins her own metamorphosis – leading her away from destructive thoughts and into a whole new life. With Haruko as her guide, Arkie undergoes a pilgrimage where she discovers a new, unimagined and fascinating life right in her own country, a land of ‘Big Things’.
This highly readable, fast-paced book is really an adventure story, not just in a physical sense, but it’s also a psychological adventure, leading Arkie to realise that despite her previously celebrated foresight, she had been missing what was right before her eyes. Thus she is informed -- and transformed -- all because of a chance meeting with an eccentric (and endearing) stranger.
There is no doubt that any perceptive reader can travel in tandem with Arkie, not just on her adventure, but on realising, through exploring this whimsical and inspiring world that Walker has created, that their own life can possibly be opened up and a whole new dimension added to it. Big things are all around us, not just standing on the side of Australian roads!
Reviewed by Di Bates
Title: Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing
Author: Lisa Walker
Publisher: Bantam Books
Publication Date: 2015 $32.99RRP
Type: Adult Fiction