Saturday, August 11, 2007

One Year Off

One Year Off: Leaving it All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children was as satisfying a read as I hoped it would be. Approaching mid-life, photographer and book editor (of the Day in the Life series of photography books) David Cohen decides that living in suburbia with a big screen TV just might not be the life he wants. He wants to show his children the world, and so he and his wife decide to do just that. They sell their house and commence to planning their trip. The foundation of this book is a series of emails that David sent to friends and family chronicling their adventures. The descriptions are vivid and the experiences go beyond seeing the typical sites of major travel destinations. Part of the goal of the trip was to complete detach from their current perspective, and at one point it's obvious that it's been achieved.

The family consists of children 8, 9, and 3 along with a babysitter who went with them for a good part of the trip. Would I want to take three-year-old Kyle around the world for a year? Probably not, but I would love to be able to take Amanda abroad at nine. The excited reactions of the children to the African safari in particular was so touching and evoked my envy:
I pivoted around to see what she was pointed at and spotted an eighteen-foot giraffe loping gracefully down the shoulder of the road. "Did you see that?" Kara cried breathlessly. "It was just running around free."

"I did, honey. It was wonderful."

"I'm going to like Africa a lot," Kara said, and her face was lit with wonder.
I chuckled as they got lost driving outside the Villa Borghese in Rome, because my husband and I did just that on our visit there ten years ago.

For a memoir-type book, this is surprisingly family-friendly. I would rate it a G for an isolated curse or two. There is certainly nothing in it that I would shield from a teen's eyes.

A friend recommended this book to me years ago. I put it on my amazon wishlist, and always knew it would be a book I would want to read. I'm glad that the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge came along and caused me to pull it off my to-be-read list. This book definitely gave a sense of place--of many places: the eclectic city of Istanbul, an African safari, Australia, France, and India stand out in my mind. What's more, David Cohen paints the backdrop of a place with three children in tow, which is quite different than a travel article you might read in the New York Times Travel section. I loved the sights and sounds of this book as well as the revelations and choices that were made in order to make it happen.

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

Also, if you did not enter to win a copy of The Little Red Book of Wisdom this week at 5 Minutes for Mom, I am leaving comments open through Sunday, because the author donated FIVE more copies. Click on over for a chance to win.


Stephanie said...

A real African safari is a dream of mine. But I agree that taking a 3 year old sounds like more work than fun.

Noodle said...

This sounds like a lovely book! I've just put it on hold at the library. :)

Katrina said...

That book sounds really interesting. I must admit that I wouldn't be brave enough to take a 3-year-old on such an ambitious expedition, but with older kids, it really would be neat.

Susanne said...

I've got this book on my reading list. Thanks for the review, now I really want to get to it soon.

Shauna said...

I read this one several years ago and really liked it!