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Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island [Kindle Edition]

Sonia Marsh
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island has received 8 Awards including :

*    GOLD MEDAL in 2014 Readers' Favorite Awards
*    1st Place, Gold Medal in "Autobiography/Memoir E-Lit Awards 2012/13 
*    2nd Place, Silver Medal in "Travel Essay" category E-Lit Awards 2012/13  
"Author Sonia Marsh's writing style was conversational. I felt as if we were sharing a cup of coffee as she told me about their year in Belize." Reviewed By Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite 5-Star-Review

"Sonia Marsh and her family give new meaning to the term "flipping out!"  Sombreros off to them for showing us the roads less traveled can often be the most rewarding -- even when our trips don't go as planned." - Franz Wisner, New York Times bestselling author of Honeymoon with My Brother and How the World Makes Love

"If you're dreaming of escaping to a tropical island, or to any foreign land, don't miss Sonia Marsh's candid and vivid recounting of the ups and downs of life abroad. Part adventure tale, part romance, part family saga and part travel guide, Freeways to Flip-Flops is a memoir that reads like a novel."-Lan Sluder (Easy Belize, Fodor's Belize, Living Abroad in Belize)

"In her revealing memoir, Sonia Marsh invites us along as she and her family leave the Southern California rat race for what they hope will be a more satisfying existence in Belize. Sonia and her family bounce between disillusionment and joy as they learn that island life is more complicated than anticipated.  In the end, Sonia realizes that paradise isn't a place - it's a state of mind. I loved the story and Sonia's courage in telling it."-Susan Pohlman, author of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought our Family Home

From the Author

Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island started as a journal, six months before we left for Belize.
Once there, I sent e-mails to friends in Europe and the U.S., and they encouraged me to keep writing and said, "Wow, Sonia, your life is so much more exciting than my daily routine. Please keep writing."
The challenge was to turn my journal into a memoir.
After numerous rewrites and professional edits, I finally finished a memoir which many say, "It reads like a movie."
My dream would be to see our modern-day "Swiss Family Robinson" adventure, turned into a movie.

Product Details

  • File Size: 701 KB
  • Print Length: 330 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0985403918
  • Publisher: Gutsy Publications (August 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,057 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone February 11, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As someone who has repeatedly stepped outside her own comfort zone, I was fascinated by Sonia Marsh's tale of her family's experiment with living in a third world country when their prosperous California life-style began to feel too materialistic. Their attempt to adapt to the unfamiliar environment of the tiny Caribbean nation of Belize offers a host of insights that are useful whether you're moving to another country or just to a different city in your own country.

Marsh writes, often humorously, about the way that cultural differences affect day-to-day life. Housing styles and standards. The education system. The food that is (or is not) available in the local market. The bugs. Trying to establish a bank account.

But what I found most compelling about Marsh's story was her description of their interactions with their neighbors in Belize, be they local, permanent ex-pats or transitional folks like themselves. What seemed, in the early days, to be an idyllic and supportive if somewhat chaotic community proved to be anything but idyllic. Once Sonia and her husband Duke tried to structure a life for themselves based on "the American paradigm," the community seemed to rise up in protest, occasionally in a way that was frightening.

It is to Marsh's credit that she looks back on this as a learning experience, one that caused her to recognize that there is no universal "right answer." In the final analysis, Marsh chose a life style that is more California than Belize -- but it is a life style that has benefited from incorporating the best of what she found in Belize.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Make it or Break it Family Experience September 6, 2012
Have you ever thought of picking up your family and just get out of your hectic, rat race life? But would you actually do it?

You hear about parents doing amazingly gutsy things to teach their privileged kids and to learn themselves about life outside their own manicured backyards. They'll huddle together on a boat for a year and sail the seas to faraway countries. They backpack across the world to see how others live. In Freeways to Flip-flops we read about Sonia Marsh and her husband who pack up their three sons and move from a prosperous, materialistic lifestyle in California to a back-to-basics lifestyle in tropical Belize, a poor country in Central America. They live without most of the comforts of home. No TV, no air-conditioning, no car, no expensive toys and entertainment and only limited food choices.

A make it or break it family experience.

Trying to escape the problems of the rat race, wanting to save a son going off the rails, they now face different issues living a simple life and going back to basics. Life in this tropical paradise is not as idyllic as the travel brochures depict.
They deal with tropical heat, nasty bugs, storms, and medical problems. The kids are not happy. Everybody has trouble adjusting. Their efforts at finding employment fall apart.

It seems a recipe for disaster, one that seems destined to tear the family apart even further.
But it does not. Through all this, the family learns to pull together, healing and strengthening their relationships and learning many valuable lessons about what is really important in life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stepping off the ledge of conventional normalcy. August 27, 2012
In the epilogue, Sonia reflects, `Had it not been for a leaking toilet, we might never have healed our family.' Readers are offered an intimate glimpse into the mind and emotional state of a mother whose fears about the deteriorating state of her family become the courage that sets into motion an extraordinary journey.
Throughout my read of this captivating memoir, a question continued to sit with me. "How far off the ledge of conventional normalcy would I step in order to regain the integrity of my family?" Sonia Marsh and her husband, Duke, chose a very risky unconventional path in order to repair the rift that was beginning to shatter the stability of their family. Sonia and Duke did not do a trial run in Belize, a third-world country that is without most of the comforts of home. Their gutsy move involved the sale of house, car, furniture, appliances and most of the comforts that living in a more civilized country has to offer. For this family of 2 adults and 3 sons, everything had to fit in 10 suitcases. The snafus regarding airline accommodations for Cookie had me clenching my hands as Sonia jumped through tons of hoops in order to later get her dog on board and keep her safe.
By far, the gutsiest move to me was Sonia's willingness to openly write about the hardships and reactions during this physically and emotionally demanding journey. Duke and Sonia's three sons, Steve, Alec and Josh gave her permission to bare their most intimate human reactions and feelings. Imagine having so much less and renting a thatched `palapa' hut with gaps in the walls made of `skinny pimento tree trunks.' Though temporary, the family had to make do with `stinky water' and all manner of creepy crawling insects like `half-inch ants, huge roaches and scorpions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars smart, and bold" woman of the feminist age
I'd long-held the illusion that I was a "strong, smart, and bold" woman of the feminist age, when women had a choice and a career beyond mother/teacher/stenographer. Read more
Published 21 days ago by PJ Colando
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful What You Wish For...
I found this book to be very engaging and honest. It painted a clear picture of the author's experience and the life she had, at the time. Read more
Published 26 days ago by D. Benson
4.0 out of 5 stars Paradise - a state of mind
I liked this book immensely and it was hard to stop reading. Sonia Marsh writes very open about her family relocating from a California with all amenities you can think of. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heidemarie Bernhard
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what you expect... it's better
I always wondered what it would be like to live on a tropical island like Belize and Sonia doesn't disappoint as she describes her family's one year on the island. Read more
Published 2 months ago by A. Kuenn
4.0 out of 5 stars Honest writing, entertaining and realistic
Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island I thought the book was well written and although I do think Sonia was harsh on her husband's aunts and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Maria Martinez
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, uninspiring
As an avid reader of travel/adventure memoirs, I figured this one would be a lay-up on the basis of the glowing reviews. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Harper
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape from Ultra-Competitive Orange County
I just finished Freeways to Flip-Flops. Wow! What an adventure. Sonia Marsh and her husband moved with their three sons to Belize to escape the consumerism and rat race of Orange... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kitt OMalley
3.0 out of 5 stars I wonder what really went on here....
Started well, with an escapist tale of leaving it all behind to rediscover oneself in a tropical paradise. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kent Hutchins
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening!
I admire Sonia and Duke for doing what they did to save their family. Too many of today's families in similar situations sacrifice their family for the conveniences of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Omar Peraza
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise--with snakes
I was very pleasantly surprised when I realized this was not your average story about giving up civilization and living a wonderful low key life. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Walter Golden
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More About the Author

Sonia Marsh is a "Gutsy" woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She's a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a "My Gutsy Story®"; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family--with teenagers-- to reconnect on an island in Belize.

Her memoir has received 8 Awards at the:
* 2014 WINNER GOLD MEDAL at Readers' Favorite Awards
* 2013 London Book Festival,
* 2013 Los Angeles Book Festival,
* 2013 Great South West Book Festival,
* 1st Place, Gold Medal in "Autobiography/Memoir E-Lit Awards 2012/13
* 2nd Place, Silver Medal in "Travel Essay" E-Lit Awards 2012/13
* 2013 Paris Book Festival
* 2013 Hollywood Book Festival

Sonia is the founder of the "My Gutsy Story®" series and has published the first Anthology: My Gutsy Story® Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and Adventure From Around the World, which has been named a 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award Silver Honoree Winner.

Sonia has lived in many countries - Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize - and she considers herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke.

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