It begins as a journey to Europe for three close friends, Casey, Sin and Kat. It is supposed to be a girls' time together away from the pressures of work, family and relationships, but that’s not how it's turning out. At their first stop in Rome, Italy, the three women are wooed by sinfully handsome Italian men who want nothing more than a good time with these beautiful young American women.
Casey, the narrator and heroine of Burning the Map, is reluctant to get involved as she already has a boyfriend in the States, even though she feels that something is lacking in their relationship. She’s also very concerned about the growing tension in her parents’ marriage, and a law student terrified of slaving as a lawyer.
With all these problems, she wants nothing more than to confide in her friends -- only they’re too busy going out with guys. She’s struck by how, over the years, a gulf seems to have grown between herself and her gal pals, and she finds it difficult to open up to them. They are equally fed up with her, and their attitude only makes it worse for Casey. Tired, alone and a bit miserable, Casey is not enjoying this European trip as much as she’d hoped to.
Laura Caldwell’s story is a frivolous bit of entertainment wrapped around a deeper message of understanding oneself and one’s true desires and hopes. Superficially, the three women’s journey is a hedonistic one filled with boozing, sunbathing and handsome men of various nationalities. But gradually this journey of pleasure changes into a journey of self-discovery and depth, one which ultimately leaves all three girls greatly changed. Their mutual conflicts, their giggling confidences and their bonding all appear true to life. The beautiful, hectic Rome and some Grecian coastal towns are vibrantly brought to life, as are their colorful natives. The story progresses from place to place jerkily at first, but more smoothly later on as the author settles into the story. This passage to enlightenment is sure to appeal to women everywhere, despite its ambiguous ending.