I've always loved to read and have harbored a secret desire that someday I will publish my own book. In my mind it will most likely be a memoir, a narrative of my adventures. At the moment it is still a pipe dream but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it. And to keep my dreams alive I've been reading a lot of memoirs recently. Some have been better than others and one of the best ones I read recently was Global Mom: A Memoir by Melissa Dalton-Bradford. I liked it so much that I had a hard time putting it down, staying up too late in order to continue reading. (It has been a long time since a book grabbed my attention and touched me like that).
The author, a singer by profession, is a mother, wife, world traveler, and American ex-patriot. She has a deep faith but neither wears it on her sleeve nor forces it upon her readers. Her story appealed to me not only because I could relate to so many aspects of her story but because she was incredibly honest about her experiences. It is easy to romanticize living overseas when you are sitting in your familiar American neighborhood surrounded by people like yourself. From a distance it often appears that life is filled with all ups and the living is easy. Heck, numerous blogs and other forms of social media make it seem as though everyone experiences 24-7 happiness and if you don't, then there is something wrong with you. Bradford debunks this myth and as someone who has lived overseas, alternatively--and sometimes simultaneously-- loving it and hating it, I found it refreshing to hear that someone else has struggled with the constant moving, adjusting, and the general lack of roots.
With each page I found myself nodding along in agreement with Bradford's experiences. I attribute it, in part, to the fact that I read this book as I was myself transitioning between one European culture and into another. Varying expectations for children struck a particular cord with me. Mastering the norm of a Norwegian playground only to find that French expectations were the polar opposite felt all too familiar. Reconfiguring furniture to fit in each new home is an experience that all of those who have moved a time or two can relate to. Ditto the household goods showing up in less than perfect condition. The struggle of trying to maintain a career and an identity with regular and unanticipated moves is another theme that makes this story feel real. Daily tasks of buying groceries, finding a parking spot in your own neighborhood, and communicating with your child's teacher aren't as easy as they might be "back home" yet they add to the richness of ex-pat life. And Bradford talks about the ups and downs of all of these. But Bradford's book isn't a downer; quite the opposite. She presents each new challenge with humor and a sense of being real that I think most of us can relate to. I found myself laughing with her, commiserating, and when tragedy strikes her family, crying along side her. By the time I reached the last page I felt as though I not only knew Bradford but saw so much of my own story in hers.
So, if you are looking for a new book or want to discover a new author, I encourage you to check out Global Mom: A Memoir. You won't be disappointed.