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Just Us: Adventures and Travels of a Mother and Daughter Hardcover – April 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571199488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571199488
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,058,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Two women in a kayak in the sea.

Place: British Columbia. Time: late July. Mood in the kayak: rotten.

...Our campsite was a slab of mud carpeted in pine needles. It had a fire pit strewn with trash, a smelly latrine, and squadrons of stealth mosquitoes. Mom and I couldn't wait to get back in it."

So go the downs and ups in Just Us--an accounting of Melissa Balmain's adventurous outings with her mother, Gina Ingoglia. Realizing they had never really spent any time alone together as peers and longing for a change of pace in their lives, the mother-daughter team decided travel was the answer. They sent away for piles of outdoor adventure brochures from companies that design trips for women, and have been exploring the wilds of North America--and each other--ever since. Whether by kayak, dogsled, or llama, this collection takes the reader on eight funny, brave, exciting, and self-exposing trips.

This is a great choice for moms and daughters who have traveled together, are considering it, or want to find out more about it. Balmain's writing style is witty, honest, and descriptive, bringing to life the pains, joys, scenic beauty, muddy chores, and revelatory experiences of her journeys with mom. --Kathryn True

From Kirkus Reviews

Likable and funny vignettes of a mom-and-daughter team tackling a handful of outdoor adventures, from California journalist Balmain. Spurred by the inkling that she would never know herself without first knowing her mother, Balmain suggested to her mre that they take a trip sans spouses. Not a cruise or an art tourBalmain figured an exploit in raw nature would encourage the exchange of confidences. So they went dog-sledding in northern Minnesota, got into some good rhubarbs and stony silences, experienced guilt and remorse and pity and gloom, and had such a fine old time, they decided to do it again. There follows seven more outings, women only, putting their fates in the care of experts (also women only): fly-fishing in southeastern Idaho, including the fabled Henry's Fork of the Snake (Balmain is a klutz, Mom composed as a Zen master); sea kayaking with orcas and bad weather along the British Columbia coast (not the smoothest of their journeys: `` `If you don't stop bossing me around . . .' The rest of Mom's sentence was lost in the wind, but I distinctly heard her mutter, `Bitch' ''); attending a calf-birthing fest in Kansas, where Balmain secretly hoped, thanks to advice from an eccentric friend, she would be inspired to procreate. They seek ``the primitive woman within'' on a camping and craft-making visit to Anasazi lands (Balmain's efforts at pottery result in ``the first Anasazi motel ashtray''). A New Age-y spa offers a break from roughing it, though they become near-comatose from the pampering and ideals. And they do connect, often in a flurry of sparks, but genuinely, while Balmain's journalistic eye livens the account with local color and history and foibles (and mothers black-and-white illustrations add a visual touch). Balmain mines the humor, but sweet sentiment shows through. ``We still don't regret a single trip,'' Balmain happily notes. Nor will her readers. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Melissa Balmain's poetry collection, Walking in on People (Able Muse Press, 2014), was chosen by X.J. Kennedy as the winner of the 2013 Able Muse Book Award. She edits Light, the country's oldest journal of light verse, which she helped revive and bring online at www.lightpoetrymagazine.com.

As a journalist and humorist, she has traveled widely and written on subjects ranging from popular culture to parenthood, from cattle ranchers to collies that surf. Her memoir, Just Us: Adventures and Travels of a Mother and Daughter (Faber and Faber, 1998), is about the days when she was free to run off with her mother and mush sled dogs or hike with llamas--also known as the days before she and her husband became parents of two.

Balmain's poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in several anthologies, and in such publications as American Arts Quarterly, Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, McSweeney's, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, The Spectator, The Washington Post, and Success, where she is a columnist. She has won national journalism honors and been a finalist for the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the X.J. Kennedy Parody Award.

She teaches writing at the University of Rochester and lives nearby with her husband, their children, and two non-surfing cats.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Luckow (ojedafilms@aol.com) on May 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"Just Us" is a delight. The author and her mother take a series of "women only" adventures in various parts of the United States. The covert purpose of these trips is to elevate the mother/daughter relationship to a new level. Melissa Balmain writes well and obviously relishes in the art of storytelling. Her insightful observations and perspective are rich with hunor; her self-deprecating style empathetically involves the reader in her adventures, successes and frustrations. I've never thought of fly fishing or lama trekking before, and certainly not with a relative-- let alone a relative equipped with a complicated relationship to me. Yet, from the preferred safety and comfort of my armchair, I was willingly transported to these places with Balmain as a spirited guide. The book makes a great gift... and it's hopeful to know that someone, somewhere can successfully survive, not one, but several vacations with her mother.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I laughed, I cried, I related. Balmain captures the quirky, sticky, prickly, loving bond between adult daughter and mother with the right combination of clear-eyed honesty and sentiment. Anyone who's interested in mother-daughter relationships, or who's just interested in a good read, should pick up this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, Melissa Balmain and her mother were tired and needing a vacation. One thing led to another and they agreed to go on a trip together without their spouses so that they can get to know one another better. They decided that an outdoor trip would force the sharing of confidences. Over the next few years, the mother and daughter team has gone kayaking amidst killer whales, visited remote Native American ruins, fly-fishing, and riding mush sled pulled by dogs, etc.
This book is the true adventures of Melissa Balmain and her mother, who made eight trips back to nature together. The stories are often funny and poignant as the two intrepid females begin to connect with each other. Even more so, readers will connect with JUST US because it runs the entire gamut of human emotions in an upbeat way.

Harriet Klausner
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