East Winds: A Global Quest to Reckon with Marriage

by  Rachel Rueckert ’21

Published by Common Consent Press (2022)


Rachel panicked as she lay awake on the first night of her year-long honeymoon—a backpacking trip around the world. Though young and in love, she wasn’t sure she actually believed in marriage, let alone the lofty Mormon ideal of eternal marriage. This unconventional honeymoon felt like a brief reprieve from the crushing expectations for a Mormon bride. But this trip also offered opportunities: the chance to study wedding traditions in other cultures and the space to confront what marriage—including her own—meant to her.

Along the way, she got kicked out of Peru, escaped rabid dogs in the Amazon, stumbled upon democracy protests in Hong Kong, launched an unlucky lantern in Thailand, and trekked five hundred miles across Spain in sandals. These experiences helped Rachel confront her tumultuous past, question her inherited relationship models, and embrace her restless nature within marriage—exchanging faith in certainty for faith in the day-to-day choice of partnership and faith in herself.

East Winds is written in the tradition of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and Tara Westover’s Educated. Far more than a travelogue, this sweeping coming-of-age memoir offers timeless insights into this complex, universal institution. Too many love stories end with marriage. This one starts there instead.