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Book Title:  Freeways To Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island
Author: Sonia Marsh
Publisher: Gutsy Publications
Format Reviewed: eBook
Published On: Aug 5, 2012
Length: 330 pages
Price: $4.99 on Amazon.com
Genre: Non-Fiction; Travel; Essays

Book description, taken from Amazon.com:

What do you do when life in sunny Southern California starts to seem plastic, materialistic and just plain hellish? For Sonia and Duke Marsh, the answer was to sell their worldly goods and move to an unspoiled, simpler life with their three sons in Belize, Central America, a third-world country without all the comforts and distractions of life in the developed world. Sonia hopes the move will bring her shattered family back together. She feels her sons slipping away from her, and her overworked husband never has time for her or the boys.

Instead, things begin to go wrong immediately. The home they initially rented isn’t available, so the family is forced to take up residence in a primitive, bug-infested shack. Duke’s telecommuting plans prove impractical because of unreliable Internet access, and he loses his job. Middle son Alec – always a conscientious, polite, tractable child – misses his friends and has trouble adjusting. As the days turn into months, Sonia finds herself questioning the family’s decision to move on a nearly daily basis.

This is the story of one family’s search for paradise. In this memoir, Sonia chronicles a year of defeats, fears and setbacks – and also the ultimate triumph of seeing once-frayed family ties grow back stronger from shared challenges and misfortunes. For Sonia, paradise turned out not to be a place, but an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures – a close-knit family and three well-adjusted sons with a global outlook on life.

My Review:

How many of us have dreamed about moving to a tropical island paradise to spend the remainder of our days relaxing by the crystal clear water, enjoying a cool drink with a little pink umbrella sticking out of the glass, and sleeping at night with the sound of waves lapping onto the beach mere feet from our rooms?

I purchased Sonia Marsh’s book, Freeways to Flip-Flops, from Amazon when it came out in eBook format in August. I’ve been a fan of Sonia’s blog, Gutsy Living, for quite some time now and knew she was finishing a book about her family’s move to Belize, a tropical country just south of Mexico. The location has long intrigued me so I was interested in learning what Sonia discovered during her time in that country, hoping her words would help me decide whether or not it was a place I at least want to visit.

I was not disappointed with the book. Sonia relates the story of her family, warts and all, and how she and her husband decided to uproot everyone from their comfortable life in California and transplant them, hook, line, and sinker, to a small island where internet signals were hit-and-miss, food was not always in abundant supply, and tropical breezes could very quickly become hurricane-force winds, knocking out power and turning small boats upside down in a matter of minutes.

Sonia tells her story in a down-to-earth voice, sparing the reader nothing when it comes to documenting the tensions that can abound in a home with three adolescent boys, a husband and a wife, all trying to figure out their places in the world. Sometimes I felt like a voyeur, peeking in the Marsh’s window and witnessing a sibling argument, harsh words between mother and son, or a make-up hug between a husband and wife after a disagreement.

As I followed the family through their months in Belize, I realized that paradise is indeed a place inside us, a feeling of peacefulness and wholeness rather than a physical location, just as Sonia said that she realized something similar. I also realized that uprooting an entire family, including teens and pre-teens, to a foreign land is not something I would want to attempt. However my family is grown now and I’m on my own—so who knows?

If you are interested in reading about real life on a tropical island (not the travel brochure air-brushed versions of life that promoters would like us to believe exists), then I highly recommend that you add Freeways to Flip-Flops to your list of books to read.

My Rating:
Four glasses of wine—a book worth reading, whether or not you are considering a life-changing move in the foreseeable future.

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