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The writer draws readers not into HER world, but ours. In sharing her family's story, she allows readers into a very personal look at dealing wirh universal experiences.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT
After more than twenty years living internationally—sixteen addresses, eight countries and five different languages—writer Melissa Bradford shares a fantastic journey of motherhood that will inspire any family.
Follow this family of six on their passage—extraordinary, hilarious and heartbreakingly poignant—from Bright Lights (of New York City) to the Northern Lights (of Norway) to the City of Light (Paris) to the speed-of-light of the Autobahn (in Munich). Continue deep into the tropics of Southeast Asia (Singapore) and end your voyage in the heights of the Swiss Alps (Geneva).
As varied as the topography—the craggy fjords, the meandering Seine, the black forests, the muggy tropics, the soaring Alps—this multicultural tale traverses everything from giving birth in a château in Versailles to living on an island in a fjord. From singing jazz on national Norwegian T.V. to judging an Indonesian beauty contest. From navigating the labyrinth of French bureaucracy and the traffic patterns of Singapore to sitting around a big pine table where the whole family learns languages, cultures, cuisines—where they, in short, learn to love this complex and diverse world and, most importantly, each other.
I learned about this book by a coworker and was glad that it was available in audiobook. The author is an actress, so she had the skills to do an exceptional job on the it. And they were her words, after all. It made for a very enjoyable read.
The writing is beautiful. However, I think I understand what the term "overwritten" means. It does some into play a little with the book but, as I mentioned, it's so beautifully written it's not painful. And perhaps, the way the words flowed from the author's mouth, they weren't as cumbersome in audio as they might have been for some people. I really think it's a personal style preference. Some readers don't want much description, and Bradford provides a lot. She uses her words to paint and shade her scenes.
My coworker friend did tell me a little about the story, so I knew in advance what the tragedy is the family suffers. It made the earlier part of the book even more poignant.
I loved especially the earlier parts of the book, when she shares her experiences in immersing the family into the cultures (for a short stay later in the book, that even included the US) of the countries they lived in. Still being American while essentially living "native" and therefore being subject to the country's government regulations (like Norway's "permitted" names for children) is one example. It provided a fascinating peek into these other cultures. But there's also the transition when it's time to move to another country--and language and cultural expectations. There was only one place where I had to fast forward, where Bradford took a little too much pleasure in describing (in detail) about a sick-making boat trip in Norway.
In the end, the book doesn't quite know what it wants to be. It's part memoir, part philosophy, part grief coping. But it worked for me. I laughed and I cried. It was a charming and emotional peek into the lives of this family. I'm giving it 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.