Monday, November 14, 2011

Review AND Giveaway - Running Away to Home - Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson and her husband Jim have a good life in Des Moines, Iowa. Two great kids, careers, house, friends - the American Dream. But they had another dream as well - " to escape to the place where we could live simply with our kids." But where could that be? Jennifer's family was originally from Croatia. And that, they decide, is where they will escape to for a year. Jennifer does a short reconnaissance mission in her ancestral hometown of Mrkopalj, returns to the US and less than a year later, they're on their way.

I thought Running Away to Home was such a neat idea - and something I would have liked to do when I was younger (I would have headed to Ireland myself). To have really chucked it all for a year, packed up two young children to just explore, learn and live takes courage and an adventurous spirit.

Wilson doesn't pull any punches in this memoir. It's not all smooth sailing - their planned accomodations go awry and Jennifer is actually the one who has trouble fitting in with village life. Her husband Jim seems to seamlessly integrate himself into daily life. "You haven't tried to fit in! You're hanging back. You're trying to figure everything out before you actually enjoy this. I don't think the point is to figure anything out. I think your time is better spent getting to know people." Once she takes her husband's words to heart, things go better for Jennifer. She starts to relax and just 'be'. Once she starts to interact and join in, her experience is enriched.

The book is written from Jennifer's point of view, with Jim and the children's thoughts added by her. I would have enjoyed reading from Jim's perspective as well. I enjoyed 'meeting' many of the 800 residents of Mrkopalj and learning of daily life, history and customs of the area. I did find a little too much of the story devoted to Robert - the owner of the home they end up living in, although they depend on him for much of what they need during their time in Croatia.

Did the Wilsons find what they were looking for? The subtitle of the book is "Our journey to Croatia in search of who we are, where we came from, and what really matters." I think the time spent together as a family was invaluable. I would have liked to see a postscript - what happened on their return to the US? Did they return to their jobs? What changed as a result of this trip? Pictures would have been nice as well, but you can view the trip album on Wilson's website.

I enjoyed the honesty of Wilson's writing, learning more about Croatia and the thoughts and possiblities her adventures sparked in this reader. Read an excerpt of Running Away to Home. A reading group guide is also available. You can find Wilson on Facebook and on Twitter.

And thanks to the lovely folks at St. Martin's Press, I have a copy of Running Away to Home to giveaway. Open to US and Canada. Simply comment to be entered. Ends Dec. 10.

28 comments:

debbie said...

I would like to read it, it sounds really interesting.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Kay said...

This book sounds appealing. Don't know that I would think of Croatia as a place to "escape" to. LOL

janezfan (at) yahoo (dot) com

traveler said...

A fascinating book which would be greatly enjoyed. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

I would be interested in this unique story. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

sarahjunie said...

Sounds like a very interesting book!

sarahjunie at gmail dot com

fredamans said...

Sounds like a great story, and the contest ends on my birthday... kismet?

freda.mans[at]gmail.com

AmandaSue said...

I'd love a chance to read this :)

unforgetable_dreamer_always (at) hotmail (dot) com

Margaret said...

This sounds like an awesome book! OH I have to read this!

Margaret
singitm@hotmail.com

Liz said...

Your assessment as to the need for follow up seems accurate--in fact, three parts: before the trip, during their stay, and life after. The children's perspective might be most valuable of all. Perhaps more is in the works.

bermudaonion said...

It would be interesting to know how they transitioned back to life in the US - it's not always easy to do. This book sounds like one I'd love, so I'm throwing my name in the hat. Thanks for the giveaway. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

Martha Lawson said...

Sounds great! thanks for the giveaway!!

old gfc follower

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Dylanarman said...

What afflicted as a aftereffect of this trip? Pictures would accept been nice as well, but you can appearance the cruise anthology on Wilson's website.

HOA Management Software

Fadela Ahmed said...

Sounds like a good read! with hot chocolate & marshmallows and a warm shawl!
fadelaahmed(at)yahoo(dot)ca

pvsgroup08@gmail.com said...

I am wondering where Jim Wilson was born.Might his native country have been a better choice? Will we see a
follow up from him?
Cranky Yorkshireman

Amy said...

This book sounds so interesting to me. I love the Wilsons idea of moving for a more simple life - (I agree with you about Ireland...I'd still like to run away to Ireland although I think the economy is even worse there.)
I am sure their time together as a family and the things they experience really bonded them. I definitely want to read this book and discover how it worked out for the Wilsons.

Thank you for hosting this giveaway!
Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

Amber said...

I'd love a chance to win and read this.

Thanks!

ayoung3360@hotmail.com

Sherman said...

Guess there is a little something in all of us that makes us want to run away like in this story. Sounds like a great book!

bricksiam@yahoo.com

Jeryl M. said...

Thanks for the chance to win.

shana said...

I hear Crotia is beautiful. I don't know where I'd go. I'm already home!

nineteen19 at blackfoot dot net

Real Life Deals said...

Would love to win this! Found you from my linkup :-) http://hobbiesonabudget.com/book-giveaway-link-up/ sharonwilliams73@gmail.com

Nancye said...

I'd love to win this book! It sounds like a great! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Peggy said...

Thanks for entering me in the giveaway! fox.peggy@gmail.com

Susan Audrey said...

Who hasn't thought about something like this? I'm sure this is an intriguing read. Would love to win a copy! Thanks for the chance.

susanaudrey33 at gmail dot com

Soozle said...

Thank you for the giveaway! I really enjoyed your review of the book - it sounds like a really interesting read!
sbabij2 at shaw dot ca

Lukey Here said...

I really want to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway

teresa[dot]lukey73[at]gmail[dot]com

Patti V said...

I definitely need this!

Susan said...

This sounds like an interesting read! Thanks for a very balanced review of the book.

Anonymous said...

I would love to win!

blessings,
Brenda

pattersonmom24@aol.com