HOMESICK: My Own Story
by Jean Fritz
Genre: Middle Grade Memoir/Fiction
Jean Fritz shares her life as a child growing up in the middle of China during the mid-twenties. She longs to go “home”. To a place she has only read about in letters from her grandmother, a place where she can feed chickens. And though this desire grows stronger as the date for departure gets closer, Jean shares her love for the Chinese people, especially her dear Lin Nai Nai. As with any good story, there is trouble and heartache. Through the eyes of a ten year old girl, Jean shares about the unrest that was developing in China towards the foreigners. Jean also shares her confusion of how her parents reacted to the death of her baby sister. We get a glimpse into the heart and mind of a young child who experienced so much. At the beginning Jean informs her readers that most of the stories are true, that all of the people were real, but the events are not in chronological order. As a NF writer, this was very important to her to clarify.
Jean Fritz is a TCK. If you want to see examples of grief, frustration, and raw emotions from a TCK, sprinkled with humor and wit, get this book. Yes, it’s written for a middle grade child, but it really is a beautifully written memoir of a young TCK. If I write too much more, I’ll have to write a spoiler alert. I cried and I laughed – maybe partly due to the fact that we used to live in Wuhan, which is now a large city that includes Hankou and Wuchang, two cities that play a huge part in this book. Or maybe just the pain of saying “good-bye“. Either way, it’s good.
Next week I will be starting the series on “The Art of Letting Go“. If you would like to write a guest post you can go back to the original post for the details.
OF STILLNESS AND STORM
by Michèle Phoenix
Sam and Lauren sell everything they own in the US to move to Nepal. It has been their dream to share the gospel to the distant tribes of the world. But, it wasn’t their son’s dream. Sam trek’s the mountains for weeks at a time. He comes home tired and smelly, but doesn’t want any luxuries because many in Nepal live in worse conditions. Lauren’s sense of adventure soon flattens after their move as she daily bumps along to work at job she doesn’t like, fights a losing battle with the electricity, and watches her son slowly change from the fun and happy kid to a teen who just exists and resents her for everything. As things tense up on the home front, Lauren has an online encounter with a friend from her past. Her isolation leads to disillusionment and soon things come crashing around her.
One of the reviews I read compared this book to THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, and I would have to agree. It brought out many of the same emotions I had as I read that book. Michèle Phoenix is a MK (missionary kid) and has worked with MK’s for many years. Her expertise and I’m sure personal experience gives this story the raw emotions that many who work overseas do not want to face. It asks the hard questions indirectly through watching this family try to survive while doing what they believe the Lord has called them to do.
I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a Christian, but I believe that the issues/themes in this book can be related to by anyone who is trying raise their family in a different culture than their own.
*I received my copy from a giveaway on another site.
MARRIED IN MISSION: A Handbook for Couples in Cross-Cultural Service
by Alexis C. Kenny
MARRIED IN MISSION is a handbook based on a blend of psychology and Catholic-Christian theology. As the title suggests, it is to help couples who work (or plan to work) in cross-cultural settings. After Kenny and her husband returned from working overseas, she realized that there was little to no help for couples. This resulted in her focus area for graduate school. In her extensive research, Kenny identified seven phases: discernment, preparation, realization, finalization, re-entry, and integration. These phases begin with the pre-departure stage and end with returning home. Each chapter offers insight and activities for the couple to learn and apply to their own marriages. This book is her thesis compiled into an easy to use book for any couple who plans to live overseas, are living overseas, or have returned home.
I felt that the book and activities are very relevant to any couple living cross-culturally. Although I am not Catholic, I believe she explained clearly the terminology to those not familiar with the Catholic religion. I understood the concepts she presented. I liked that the reader could skip to the phase that was directly needed and not have to read the entire book to understand or gain personal insight. She also included many quotes from other couples interviewed, which helped to grasp the issues better.
The only complaint I had is towards the publishing house, and I think I know why they did it (to save money), but I feel the font is small. It made it hard to read. This is only a small complaint, but one to point out so you won’t be surprised (and for those of you like me,
have your reading glasses ready).
I do believe that this book could be used for any couple working cross-culturally, whether of the Catholic faith or not. There are some real gems that will help strengthen your marriage – and that is something, I believe, we all want in married life. Strong and happy marriages.
LOOMING TRANSITIONS: Starting and Finishing Well in Cross-Cultural Service
by Amy Young
Summary: LOOMING TRANSITIONS is a navigational book to help those who are in the process of transitioning in a cross-cultural setting. It does not tell you what to pack or not to pack, but rather the emotional process that goes with big moves. Amy has lived this cross-cultural life and repatriated to her home country of the United States, so she understands all the ups and downs. She has also written a workbook for individuals to accompany the book, as well as, an activity book for families to help their children work through the transition.
My Thoughts: I bought this book last spring and just finished right before Christmas. It isn’t a long book, nor is it boring. In fact, I enjoyed Amy’s candid transparent voice as I read. It took me over seven months because my mind could only handle chunks at a time. I needed to process some areas from many moves ago. Reading this book brought to mind thoughts and feelings I had regarding those moves. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the workbook or the activity book all the way through – but by just glancing at it I know that I will be using them both when we make our next move (which I pray isn’t too soon).
And as I was writing this review, I found out that it is the one year anniversary for this book. If you’d like to read more about how this book came about and receive some coupons for the book (one being a free audio download!), visit Amy at her website The Messy Middle.
I was asked by Multicultural Kids Blog to read and write a review for a fairly new book series called Pack-N-Go Girls by Lisa Travis and Janelle Diller. My interest was peaked, of course, by just the name of the series. As I read the background of how this series began, I was curious to see how well these books might be suited for kids who live overseas, TCKs. At the moment they have six books that explore three countries: Austria, Mexico, and Thailand. They will be starting the research this year for the next two books that will be located in Brazil.
I decided to read the first book in the series, Mystery of the Ballerina Ghost.
Brooke is from Colorado. She has the opportunity to travel to Austria with her mother, who has a short term job assignment at a castle. In Austria she meets Eva a girl not only her age, but who also lives in the castle with her grandfather. Though they become friends quickly, Brooke soon discovers that the castle may possibly be haunted by a ballerina ghost. She and Eva spend their free time to uncover this mystery.
What child doesn’t like a mystery? I felt the mystery was intriguing enough to cause the young reader to keep reading. I did feel that the reader would learn a little bit about Austria without feeling like it was a geography lesson. I liked that at the end of the book there are a few pages with learning simple German phrases, as well as some important facts about Austria. Overall, I thought it was a good early chapter book for children ages 6-8.
As for TCKs, knowing that Brooke was not staying, but only there for a few months at the most, I felt it didn’t really deal with many of the issues that TCKs deal with. So in that respect, I can’t recommend it as a book dealing with transition. BUT, I would definitely recommend it for those who are going to Austria (or any of the other countries they write about) on a vacation or a short visit. I do think it was well written and had some great facts about the country.
ARRIVALS, DEPARTURES, AND THE ADVENTURES IN-BETWEEN
by Christopher O’Shaughnessy
Published by Summertime Publishing, 2014
Here’s a book that is truly one of a kind on the subject matter of third culture kids. As a military kid, Christopher O’Shaughnessy understands living between worlds and cultures, while trying to figure out the identity as a third culture kid. He has a gift to write in a way that words on the page seem to just come to life. His memorable stories are hilarious, and yet at the same time they drive a point that will be remembered well after the book is put down.
To read the rest of this review at CLEW, click here.
If you’d like to read a different review, click here to read the one on Goodreads.
by A.L. Sonnichsen
Kara lives with her American mom in Tianjin, China. Her mother brought her home eleven years ago after finding her abandoned, but for reasons Kara doesn’t understand or fully know they are not able to travel too far outside their small apartment, let alone move to Montana where her dad lives. After her older sister comes to visit, unpreventable events occur that causes a domino effect in Kara’s life. She uncovers answers to her questions and learns to thrive in new, and sometimes quite scary, environments. The story is told in moving (sometimes to tears) verse.
I’ve included this book on my list of TCK books because Kara is a TCK. From the beginning you sense it. She’s Chinese, but her mother is American. She looks Chinese, but feels American on the inside. Isn’t that what a lot of our children feel like? The author knows this feeling because she herself grew up in Hong Kong.
It’s also an adoption book – as there are some deep issues touched upon. We “hear” Kara’s thoughts about all that is going on around her: her fears, her questions, her sadness. I think I’ll let the book show what I’m trying to say. You’ll get an idea from this excerpt – which is one of my favorites.
On my way home,
one of them
Sonnichsen understands adoption as well as a mother can. She and her husband adopted their oldest child while living in China.
I totally recommend this book, especially if you have internationally adopted. It is truly a good read. My only warning is that you set time aside, as it will be hard to put down. It seriously is that good.
DUTCHED UP! ROCKING THE CLOGS EXPAT STYLE is a compilation of short stories and articles written about living as an expat in the Netherlands. The stories come from women who have and are living there as foreigners. These stories are well-written and very entertaining – even to this expat who does not even live in Europe.
I truly believe that if one finds his/herself moving to the Netherlands that this book should be on their list to read before moving there. The stories in this book are not just entertaining, but helpful to those learning to navigate through the culture, the language, food, and yes even help with the washing machine manual. I found myself wishing I had had a book like this for living in Asia when I first made the dive into living abroad.
PASSAGE TO PERSIA is a story of a young missionary doctor and her 30-years in Persia, or what is now known as Iran. Adelaide Kibbe became a doctor in the 1920s and traveled to Persia. Her story is woven together through her personal letters, diary entries, and mission/hospital reports. It’s through these accounts we see a young lady become a wife, a mother, and a widow – all while working as a doctor in a fairly rough country for women.
You can read my full review at the CLEW website. Just click here.
Harvesting Stones by Paula Lucas
Summary: This memoir is about a Catholic farm girl journeying through Europe and the Middle East with her international photographer husband. To the outsider, including her family, everything looked perfect – even fairy-tale like. In reality, though, she was surviving a nightmare and protecting her three children at the same time. This is the inside look of a woman beaten, bruised, and trapped and how she turned her experience into starting two organizations to help expat women who are experiencing domestic abuse. These organizations are Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center (AODVC) and Sexual Assault Support & Help For Americans Abroad Program (SASHAA)
My Take: I really liked Harvesting Stones. Though the first few chapters are a little slow reading, I do believe they need to be there to help you understand where Paula came from. After those chapters hang on because the ride she takes you on is, seriously one you won’t believe really happened. It is like something from the movies with all the twists, turns, and suspense. The difference is that after the movie, you can sigh and say, “Well, I’m glad that was just a story and not real,” but with this book it is real – and the sad thing is her story mirrors many other expat women. Women I may know by name, but not deep enough to know the hurts they are experiencing. This book forced me to open my eyes a bit wider, with not just the knowledge that there are women like this living overseas, but that there are organizations – people who care, support and help these women and children. I love how she describes how she was able to take the “stones” that were thrown at her and “harvest” them into something good. What a challenge to us all – to take whatever hardships we’ve been given and to harvest them into something that can help and encourage others.
* I received this book for review by the publishing company, Summertime Publishers. The views are strictly mine alone.