Book Review | The Mirror Maze
Author: Tom Brungar and Lisa Nicole Walker
I used to work with a gentleman who, once you got to know him, would share some of the colourful stories about his experiences around the world when he was younger. I used to be enthralled by his stories – he had done so many things and had so many close calls that he was lucky he had lived through his experiences and escaped unscathed! Unlike my former colleague, I also watch a British TV series called “Banged Up Abroad” that shares the experiences of individuals who, though a series of bad choices, end up in foreign prisons. The stories are sometimes sad and often shocking! Because I’ve always been interested in these types of stories, I was interested in reading The Mirror Mazeby Tom Brungar and Lisa Nicole Walker. Subtitled “A Norwegian Man’s True Story of Five Years in Mexican Prisons During the 1980s”, I was really interested in learning about Brungar’s experiences.
Tom Brungar’s life was rather normal in the beginning. Growing up in Norway, he traveled a great deal and worked in a number of locations. He was married a couple of times but these marriages didn’t last. At one point, however, Tom’s life took a turn for the worse. He became involved in alcohol, and then drugs which finally led to his bad decision to become a drug smuggler. On his last trip, he was terrified about being caught. Like many unsuccessful drug smugglers, he made it part of the way on his journey but was ultimately caught during one of the final legs of the trip. And, unlucky for Tom, the drugs were discovered while he was changing flights in Mexico.
Tom chronicles the confusing maze of the Mexican prison system, the lack of consistency, the abuse and the constantly changing bureaucratic system that made his experiences even more difficult. The violence that Tom witnessed, and experienced, is incredibly disturbing but, unfortunately, not surprising. How Tom managed to keep his sanity and stay focused on his dreams of being returned to Norway are the truly phenomenal aspects of this story. Tom’s letters to his cousin Vivi are shared throughout the book and they share his experiences as well as his dream of returning home.
As troubling as the events detailed in the book are, I really enjoyed reading The Mirror Maze by Tom Brungar and Lisa Nicole Walker. My only wish was that there was more shared about Tom’s life after he returned to Norway. The prologue gives a bit of information about Tom’s life after his return but I would have loved to have learned more about how Tom dealt with his return to civilized society. Otherwise, I found this book both interesting and engaging!
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*