Book Review: Currency by Zoe Zolbrod

Travel Books & Movies — By on June 17, 2010 at 11:14 am


by Zoe Zolbrod

OV Books, $16.95

Rating: 3 stars

Review by Wendy Withers

It’s an international traveler’s worst nightmare. Caught in another country with a foreign language, out of money, maxed out credit cards, and no way home. This is the scenario facing Robin, the young protagonist in Currency, the new novel by Zoe Zolbrod.

Robin is in Thailand when her credit card is declined. She expects her credit card company will extend her limit once more, but instead she finds herself trapped in the country with her visa ready to expire and no way out. Her Thai boyfriend, Piv, offers to help. Robin is initially distrustful of the African businessman Piv contacts to save the day, but desperate and afraid she finds herself sliding into a world of backroom dealings and international crime to save herself.

As Robin finds herself enmeshed in a seedy world she can’t break free from, her relationship with Piv becomes strained due to differences in culture and language. Her world is turned upside down as her father and a Western mentor living in Thailand fail to jump to her rescue. She struggles to find answers: answers to her problems, and answers about the business Piv has entangled them in.

While the novel is about one young woman in dire straits, the story should resonate with anyone who has had to face hard choices in money and love. The love story weaving in and out of this tale of adventure and international intrigue is a very human one full of mixed messages, crossed wires, and human frailties.

Through the course of Currency’s pages, Zolbrod charts the course of human relationships between a diverse spread of characters. The cast of tourists, Thai natives, Western expatriates, and a few unsavory sorts are thrust together in a world where travel, crime, and globalism intersect. She does so with a voice that makes the pages turn almost on their own.

While the novel is compelling, at times Zolbrod changes between Robin’s Western narration style to Piv’s broken English. It doesn’t take long for the flow of the story to take over, but the effect of reading Piv’s account of events is jarring at first.

It is easy to see why Piv and Robin would be attracted to each other in the beginning of the novel. He is a street wise young man with long hair, charm, and ambition, while she is an American living out her globe trotting dreams. However, as their relationship begins to crack under the strain of all the world is throwing against them, it becomes surprising that they deal with the pressures of the outside world as well as they do. Their fling becomes something more, even as they begin to lose sight of each other through their cultural lenses.

Even with its shortcomings, Currency is a fun, light read about an exotic locale. It is set in Thailand as it really is, where travelers stay in the best hotels and visit famous temples, but where the path less traveled is only a short drive away. Zolbrod takes her readers down that path and back again.

Currency is a great book to bring on a plane ride but would be even better in a beach bag or on a poolside table for people like Robin, who can’t quite afford to a trip to Thailand but yearn for the chance of leaving the mundane world behind for an exotic adventure.

Check out the trailer for Currency here! You can find the book for purchase on Amazon.

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