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Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global Paperback – October 23, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey America; 1 edition (October 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I fold up my self and carry it round with me as if it were an overnight case," writes Pico Iyer in his refreshing and witty opening essay. Maria Arana's lively and moving excerpt closes the collection with, "I'm happy to be who I am." In between are 18 other essays by professional writers-mostly women, mostly of American nationality-framed by an introduction full of the lingo of alienation: "estranged," "disconnected," "longing, in each new home, to establish connection, yet fearful of becoming too attached." Precious few are "comfortable with their transient lives." Children of military men, diplomats, missionaries, businesspeople and other parents working abroad, they are linked not so much "by the recurrent motif of creating an identity while growing up global," as the editors assert, as by the large number of schools they attend in their childhoods. They experience house arrest, political coups, military occupation, refugee camps, father's violence and mother's schizophrenia. Their common association is Global Nomads International, an umbrella organization broad enough for one who grows up in Venezuela but regularly summers in upstate New York, one who moves 18 times in 18 years, and one who lives through the "1970 civil war in Jordan, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon." One contributor recalls her five years in Holland as "the best home I ever had," and another recognizes that her "own case of the outsider syndrome played itself out," but this collection is weighted to the miseries of being, as Ruth Hill Useem, an expert in the study of expatriate communities, calls it, a Third Culture Kid.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The writers represented here are the "privileged homeless," according to Pico Iyer, whose brilliant, witty essay opens this collection by those who remember growing up as foreigners with families always on the move. Army brats, missionaries' children, diplomats' children, or those whose parents just couldn't stay put, these adult writers still feel like strangers everywhere, longing to belong even as they fear attachment. There is sometimes a whining note of self-pity-- you can hear the therapy session--and, except as metaphor, these restless essayists don't even see the "streetbums" around them, the millions of child refugees and migrant workers who are truly homeless today. But many of the best writers, including Isabel Allende, Ariel Dorfman, and Tara Bahrampour, speak eloquently about the pain and also the riches of the search for home. Pat Conroy didn't like the military life: "Each year I began my life all over again . . . and I think it damaged me." In contrast, Carlos Fuentes found identity in contact, in contrast, in breakthrough. The editors provide excellent commentary and author bios. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Publisher's Weekly paragraph reads more like a tenth grader's bored attempt to complete an assignment than an adult's intelligent reading of this rich collection of essays on the experience of growing up as an extra-cultural (variant of extraterrestrial).

In this one collection you will find not only the best of the internationally known literati who write about this experience (Pico Ayer, Isabelle Allende, Carlos Fuente...) but also the fresh and vibrant writings of lesser known yet equally powerful writers (Faith Eidse, Sara Taber, Camilla Trinchieri ...) To conclude saying the essays focus on misery is like concluding that trees take space; it is almost irrelevant. These essays are first hand accounts of the powerful experience of an international education, of opening one's mind to otherness, of finding a center in the whirlwind of mobility and the extremes of cultures that co-exist on earth.

In these writings, you feel what it was like to be there - you taste, and smell and see and hear, as if you were there. No matter your own experience - whether you lived in the same neighborhood for 21 years, or moved every six months for the first six - the experiences shared will shine a light no less stunning than the vistas from mountaintops or streams of sunlight through clouds. The vitality of the prose is the written equivalent of music videos. You will want to mark your copy up, share it with friends and then write your own experience.

This text will become a standard in high school and college classes on a fresh dimension of multiculturalism. The life giving force of these personal essays is the material from which evolutions in transnational culture are emerging. Kudos to those who brought it to fruition.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book can be read on many levels. On a basic level, it can be read merely as a collection of entertaining stories of the childhoods of various people. On deeper level, it can be seen as a fascinating study into how the cultures in which we grow up shape our adult lives; and how children with no particular affiliation towards any country forge their own identities.
In this age where travel has never been easier and people are increasingly mobile, this book poses the question - what does nationality actually mean, and what happens when that is taken away? An important book for our time.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Expertly co-edited by Faith Eidse and Nina Sichel, Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs Of Growing Up Global is a revealing anthology of personal memoirs drawn from a wide variety of authors, each of whom focus upon the experience of growing up without being able to "put down roots" of belonging. Many of these thoughtful and thought-provoking essays are published here for the first time. They reflect the link between language and cultural identity, as well as the framing the travails of adolescence in North America, South America, and Africa, offering the reader a impressive collection of uniquely human voices identifying the dehumanizing cultural homogenization that globalization tends to unilaterally spread. Unrooted Childhoods is a seminal and highly recommended contribution to contemporary sociology, cultural history, social issues, and autobiography reading lists.
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