Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Guest Book Review: Global Mom

By Allie Smith

Being a road warrior myself, I can’t tell you how excited I was when I heard that Global Mom was about a family who traveled the world together. The Bradford family did way more than just travel - they had the incredible opportunity to live on three different continents, in six countries and took advantage of these experiences by totally immersing themselves into the culture of each city that they’d call home. However, this book is so much more than an awe-inspiring travelogue, it’s also a compelling memoir of grief.

Melissa and her husband Randall moved from New York to Norway, with two children, for a job opportunity. Initially, life in Norway was very tough, fraught with loneliness and depression. It was there that they came up with a blueprint to help the family acclimate themselves into their new home by learning the language (eventually becoming fluent in five languages), befriending the people and becoming countrymen. It’s a blueprint that they’d use again and again. After the birth of their third child, they got the call to move to Versailles. The curse of the Expatriate - once you’re happy and settled, it’s often time to move again.

Vive la France was my favorite part of the book, for many reasons. It’s also where baby number four came into the world. Versailles was followed by New Jersey, Paris, Munich, Singapore and Geneva. As a travel memoir, the book reads like a Social Studies text, so vivid and detailed are the descriptions. I learned about the people, cultures, language, food, history and customs of each place. The author is adept at dropping in personal anecdotes about the difficulties she encountered with communication and adapting to foreign practices. Sometimes however, I’d find myself drifting, because nothing seemed to really happen. The Bradfords were just like any other family who happens to move a lot. Inconvenient at times, yes, but they always had each other and it reads like the perfect life.

Then the book takes a painfully tragic turn. I didn’t see it coming. It’s awful. Heartbreaking. Breathtaking. Gut-wrenching. The oldest Bradford child died at eighteen, in a brutally unfair accident. Melissa’s description of her family’s grief is difficult to read, but you must. It is the most powerful part of the story and it makes a good book extraordinary. Melissa resonated with me so personally that I was reading passages over and over again, committing some of them to memory. I recently lost someone very close to me, so her grief radiated from the pages of this book and pierced my heart.

The book takes on a different tone after the accident. The family is radically different, yet still the same. I can’t explain it. Although tragically altered, the Bradfords can never be broken. The family soldiers on with faith, love, a call to service and a fondness for global adventures. Not immediately, but gradually. I found it inspiring. Hopeful. Sadly, I feel that I only really got to know Melissa after the loss of her child. In her words, “Of all the borders I’ve crossed, of all the addresses I’ve inhabited and of all the lands I’ve been privileged to call my home, there’s but one terrain that’s defined me more than any other: that is the land of loss.” It’s then that she cuts herself open for the reader with a raw honestly that will fill you with compassion.

This isn’t a beach read, but it is a must read. This powerful story should be shared with anyone who’s experienced and survived grief.

Thanks to BookSparks PR for the book in exchange for an honest review. They're giving away a copy along with Melissa Dalton-Bradford's interview.

Allie Smith, a former CPA who five years into her career decided that she hated working with numbers and willingly gave it all up to be a stay-at-home mom, lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and four children. In between carpool, play dates and refereeing the kids, she loves to read and write. The mother of a child with autism, she is currently working on a memoir of their journey. She can be found at her blog.

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Ellie said...

It is an engrossing book. Full of superb stories and lovely anecdotes. And then like you say, the narrative of Parker's death is so heartbreaking you cannot put it down and only want to curl up with a family member after reading it.

Melissa said...

Melissa, To thank you for writing such a generous and probing review of my book is so short from what I want to do here. But this box is so darned cramped. What I really want to do, is sit for a weekend at my long Norwegian table and talk. Elbows on pine. Chins cradled in palms. Longs stretches of laughter, story-comparing, maybe, also, of silence. You've read, reflected and understood, and what a huge gift that is to me! So many warm thanks. I'm honored.

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to hear about this book! I had no idea about it. I had the opportunity to live in Norway a short time as a missionary for my church and was in the same area as the Bradford's. I spent time in their home for dinners, getting haircuts, and Christmas Day, with others like me, away from family and friends. They welcomed us into their home and family and shared their warmth and great faith with us! Melissa made an impact on my life as I always admired her life, knowledge, determination, and great strength. I was heartbroken when I learned of the death of Parker and was able to attend the funeral where I again was blown away by the family's great faith and strength. What an inspiration they are and I can't wait to read the book!

Nina B said...

Great review and love seeing you here, Allie.

Anonymous said...

Just bought a copy of the book last week. Was so excited when it arrived, but had to set it aside for other priorities before even starting it. Picked it up tonight as a distraction to avoid cleaning the house, ... And couldn't put it down!! Looking forward to finishing it soon. Melissa writes with such clarity, comedy and self-consciousness. Great insights. Love it!