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"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
"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
"A book that reads like a breath of fresh air-a tale of love, courage, and laughter and the strength of family bonds despite enormous pressures."
-Lynnete Brasfield, author of Nature Lessons
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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.
As an avid reader of travel/adventure memoirs, I figured this one would be a lay-up on the basis of the glowing reviews. One-third in, I was perplexed given the poor writing and editing, and thus got on Amazon to check out all the positive feedback, discovering that nearly all the 4 and 5 star reviews are from Southern California people. Could they be friends or perhaps "clients" of the author"?
The tale is this: Sonia and Duke's oldest son, at 13, is sleeping around and generally having complete disregard for his parents. They long to escape the "materialism" of Orange County, so the parents fly to check out Belize, locate a hut, and make the move despite their three sons' vocal reservations. But life in paradise isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sonia "missed world news and shows such as Survivor and American Idol". She's forced to drink Maxwell house as there is no Starbucks to be found. Their initial residence is bug infested and more rustic than they want. So they manage to get out of their lease and buy a townhome in a more resorty-area.
The kids are bratty, likely driven by the parenting styles of Sonia "I yearned to give my boys anything to see them smile again" and Duke's taciturn, conflict-avoiding nature. After a few months Duke is spending his days on the couch, re-reading Sci-Fi novels, and himself acting like a bratty Orange County Teenager. The couple never manage to actually achieve any of their work goals, with their only income being a few personal training sessions Sonia leads. Duke decides not to try his legal transcription business, and then the couple's attempt at property management becomes a disaster.
I plowed through it but found it an agonizing read, with every chapter rife with petty conflict.Read more ›
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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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.Read more ›
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