Book Review: THE HAPPY ROOM by Catherine Palmer


by Catherine Palmer

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Genre: Novel

Summary: The Mossman family went to Africa to be missionaries. The three children all had different experiences that affected their adult lives. Peter turned away from God. Julia embraced the faith. The youngest Mossman brings them altogether when she is hospitalized due to an illness. It is during this time in the hospital that each of the children, now grown and with family of their own, remember and retell their story of Africa and of boarding school. As pain is revealed, healing begins – and the characters learn more about each other and the God who never left them.

My Take: I’d heard of this book from a few of my friends and finally got my turn to read it. My curiosity led to a background check on the author and discovered that she and I are alumni of the same university, which I find cool. But, what my investigative work uncovered was that she is also an MK from Africa. Catherine knows a bit about this life overseas and it truly comes alive through the characters in this book.

I love that the three siblings all had different opinions about being raised overseas. I loved that they each told virtually the same story, but with a different twist as to their perspective. I found the book to be a fairly quick read, meaning I had a hard time putting it down. After finishing it, I talked to my friends who were MKs and some had even boarded at the school mentioned in this book. They confirmed the feelings they had compared to their siblings to be very similar to the characters.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is moving overseas, who has lived overseas, especially if you were a MK – not as a self-help book, but possibly an enjoyable walk down memory lane. It would be a great airplane book.

Your Turn: Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Share your comments below.



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.


Book Review: SAFE PASSAGE by Douglas W. Ota

by Douglas W. Ota
Summertime Publishing
Regardless how long someone has been an expat, mobility issues are a major part of their life. Many expats can quickly estimate how many boxes will be needed to pack their belongings. They know the routine of good-byes and hellos. From personal experience, they know the grief that trails after them from place to place.  They recognize this grief in their children, and may long for a ‘quick-fix’ to help them cope with this grief.
A new book by Douglas W Ota, Safe Passages:  How Mobility Affects People and What International Schools Should Do About It, might just be the essential resource needed for expats.
If you’d like to read more about this book, check out my review at ExpatArrivals.



by Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath-Smith

Living the expat life can sound adventuresome, exciting, and honestly quite fun for most people. Most trailing spouses will agree that at the beginning, it is fun and adventuresome, but somewhere in the middle of maybe the third month or so the “vacation” is over. They begin to feel bored, somewhat useless, and possibly even depressed. Most left jobs and/or careers back in their home country to support their spouse or partner. This was the scenario for both Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath-Smith, authors of A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE.

Jo found herself on a plane from England to Dubai as a young wife. The first ten years were rough she says in her book, but she “developed…a career in my suitcase, a portable career that moves when I do.” Colleen, a career consultant, moved to the Netherlands shortly after she married a Dutch man. She gave herself time to learn the language, and then began giving career development training in Dutch. The two of them have teamed together to add and improve what Jo created over fifteen years ago.

In their book, they say, “a portable career is work that you can take with you wherever you go. It is based on your own unique set of skills, values, passion and vision and is not based in a physical location.” Technology has really paved the way for many to be able to make a career while they are traveling the world. “The only real limit is your ability to imagine and create it,” they say at the beginning of their book when describing more about a portable career.

A CAREER IN YOUR SUITCASE is packed with useful tools for anyone looking at the next step. It is divided up into three parts: Find Your Direction; Find Your Opportunity; and Putting it Together. The first part helps you find what you are passionate about to remind you what skills you already possess and can use. The second section takes those passions and skills and helps you discover career options. The last section encourages and directs you in ways to step out and make your career work.

This book is not a book you just read through. It is one that is to be used, marked up, and notes taken in. Jo and Colleen created a separate section called “My Career Passport” at the end of the book, which is a space to write out answers to the “homework” questions in each section. This new section makes it worth having the newer version. This version is also packed with so many resources that are available on the internet. One being their own called A Career in your Suitcase.

This book is definitely a must read for those who are the trailing spouse or if you are at a point in your life that you want to do something new. I found this book to be highly useful and resourceful.

Author Interview: Valérie Besanceney

IMG_9127This week I’m celebrating my 100th post here on Raising TCKs. Click here to find out how you can enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of B at Home: Emma Moves Again by Valérie Besanceney.

Today I have the opportunity to share with you some more about this great book and author. So, sit down with your cup of coffee (or tea, but Valérie and I would be drinking coffee) and learn more about Valerie and the backstory of B and Emma.

As a Dutch TCK, Valérie knows all about packing up belongings and moving around the world. As a child she moved five times, and countless times as an adult. She understands the ins-and-outs of being the child who feels they had little or any choice in moving to new places, learning new languages, and making new friends.

All transitions have advantages and challenges. Children, and many adults, usually only acknowledge the challenges. This is true during the transition of a move as well. As an adult, Valérie now sees the advantages of being a TCK and shares this knowledge in her book through the sideline character, B. The idea of this unique character came from her childhood. B was her traveling sidekick during those transitional years of maturing into an adult, but also transitioning from country to country. Today, B is still a part of her family as he sits peacefully on her bed. Valérie believes that having a “sacred object” helps TCKs as they make their transitions, just as B helps Emma make hers.

 Where is home?

Like most TCKs, Valérie has had her struggle in finding where “home” is. After university she found herself back in the little village of Switzerland where her parents took her on holidays. It was there as a ski-instructor she met her husband, an American. They worked and backpacked together until they earned their Masters in (International) Education. From there they taught in international schools all around the world: Egypt, Bolivia, Aruba, and now back in Switzerland. They have two daughters and can’t wait to show them more of the world. For now, though, that consists of holiday trips, as they have chosen to plant some roots –

“Even though my husband and I both easily get itchy travel feet, there is also a certain calm charm to being able to plant some roots in these early years of their childhood.”

Valérie appreciates the time her parents took to always go back to the village in Switzerland that became sort of home to her as she became an adult.

Write what you know.

Valérie has always loved writing. She took classes in university and enjoyed writing fiction based on her personal experience. Writers are always told to write what they know and Valérie knows “moving.” As a child she struggled with the feeling of not belonging. She says about writing her book that: “Partly, I needed to write this story for myself. But mostly, as a primary teacher and as a mother, I felt a growing sense of responsibility to let children know that they are not alone in their search for ‘home’.”

Although it took her three years to complete the book, she was able to write a large portion of the book during her maternity leave. Like most writers she needed encouragement and support from those closest to her. Valérie says, “I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who is a wonderfully involved house-husband and father to our girls.” She continues to write now that she is back in the classroom, but she admits that finding the balance is “tricky.”

“They described my experience better than I’d ever been able to myself.”

Before Valérie began writing about her TCK experience, she first read Third Culture Kids: Growing up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. She says that after she read the book she “felt an overwhelming sense of recognition and relief.” She had the opportunity to hear Ruth speak about her work. The stories “were even more powerful in person.” It was from this opportunity that Valérie found the courage to pitch Ruth her story idea about Emma. From there, Ruth put her in touch with Jo Parfitt at Summertime Publishing and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”

 Valérie’s thoughts on publishing~

  • I think it’s important to know that it will take time and that you need to be patient.
  • Take the time to edit your work until you’re truly happy with it.
  • Take the time to let your target audience read it and give you honest feed back on the content of your work.
  • Take the time to let it rest once in a while before you continue writing.
  • After many people, including professional editors, have edited it have someone who you trust give it a final read through. I’ve learned that it’s very easy to become ‘blind’ to small errors and ‘fresh’ eyes are always helpful.

Valérie’s thoughts on helping kids transition~

“I think the best thing you can do for your child is to accept that your child will likely go through many different emotions during different stages of the transition. It’s important to acknowledge all of these emotions, not to underestimate the grief that saying goodbye will cause them, and to comfort them without judgment.”

Wise words to part with. I want to thank Valérie for taking the time to answer all my questions and for allowing me to share her story.

Again, if you haven’t signed up for the contest, you need to do that. Deadline is May 30th.

BONUS POINTS: Yes, today you have an opportunity to add more points and have a better chance at winning B at Home: Emma Moves Again. All you have to do is subscribe to our websites. For mine, you just need to scroll up and it is located on the right side of your screen. For Valérie’s, you need to click here. Her subscription box is also located on the right side as well. After you subscribe just comment below that you followed and you’ll get two extra entries for each (total of 4). If you already are a subscriber, then just comment below that you want to enter the giveaway because we sure don’t want to exclude those of you who have been following us thus far.