Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Book Recommendation for Everyone

I just recently finished the book, Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family by Melissa Dalton-Bradford

This is not an ordinary memoir of a globe-trotting family. Perhaps because of the tragedy the family faces, this memoir achieves a depth and weightiness that sets it apart from other titles in the genre. As a former globe-trotting mother myself, I felt a kinship with Dalton-Bradford. She is warm and personable, making you feel you could dash off an email to her in response to a passage and have a meaningful conversation about it.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford does an admirable job of distilling years of experiences into a few pages covering critical ex-pat experiences like daycare, international and local schools, culture clashes, language acquisition, bureaucracy, navigating medical systems and pharmacies, food, giving birth, friendship, job transfers, etc. She writes of these things with small anecdotes, often hilarious, but always insightful and cohesive.

Dalton-Bradford articulates far more deftly than I have ever been able to express the wonder and privilege of such a globe-trotting lifestyle. She does not, however, gloss over the real costs of the same lifestyle--the rootlessness, the relentless loss, and the curious experience of feeling a stranger in one's own country.

Perhaps the greatest feat of the book is how the heaviest and most painful of topics-the death of the Bradford's eldest son just days after beginning university-is integrated into the narrative without being choppy or derailing the book. Indeed the candor and dignity with which Dalton-Bradford expresses her grief and the struggle to move forward in such a painful landscape (almost like an entirely new country) was deeply and profoundly moving.

I found the typos in the original edition distracting and frustrating--though I think a new edition has been printed and I believe that it has been better proof-read. While Bradford's prose is beautiful and elegant, I found it distracting at times-causing me to lose track of the story. I loved the foreign phrases which were scattered throughout the text, but they weren't always translated which made me feel like an outsider and missing critical parts of the text. Many of the chapter titles were foreign phrases and I think a translation should have been provided as well underneath the title. I also wish the chapters about Singapore and Asia had been expanded. That section of the book felt too cursory and brief.

Who should read this book? People who want to travel or have ever wondered what it is like to actually live in a foreign country. People who are preparing for an international move. Expat families who are looking for sources to help validate their experiences. Anyone who is coping with grief would also benefit from this book. I will be sharing this book with my family to help them gain a deeper understanding of my own experiences living in three different foreign countries for 7 years.

Melissa Dalton-Bradford writes a wonderful blog called Melissa Writes of Passage where she writes wonderful essays about a variety of topics relevant to expat families. I've enjoyed reading and commenting on her blog. She often responds so it is very possible to have some great conversations with her. 

3 comments:

  1. I always appreciate a good book review!

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  2. Hi, I really like your article. I will keep coming here, Thanks

    ReplyDelete