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Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island Paperback – August 1, 2012
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- 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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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
Sonia's husband, Duke, is exhausted from traffic jams and the endless commutes that characterize life in Orange County, CA. Her oldest son, Steve, is headed down a defiant and possibly destructive path. Sonia's desire to "heal" her family and teach her three sons that there is more than video games, materialism and competition, leads to a path of drastic change. Despite her reservations after a visit to Belize and her own intuition that Belize may not be right for her family, she and Duke take the plunge anyway. The ups and downs, the steps and missteps, of moving from California to Belize, are both comical and heartbreaking.
Sonia soon finds that dreams collide with reality. She deals with a son who dislikes change and misses his friends back in California, a husband who can't let the "dream" go, an oldest son instant messaging his girlfriend back in California until 3 a.m. They are a homesick family trying to find their way back to each other.
"In Belize you didn't have to fit in, it was okay to be different," Marsh writes. But even that myth fades when the Marshes discover a social caste system where those in the bigger villas look down on those with less. The also discover unfriendly expats, rats in their oven, cock roaches that eat their way through ziplock bags . . .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an interesting story of one family's journey to leave the all American lifestyle behind in search of living in a more meaningful way. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Linda Luke
From its hooky title to its conclusion, this easy-to-read memoir is a winner. And win it did in the 2014 Readers Favorite Book Awards, and deservedly so. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Viga Boland, author No Tears for my Father
This book is nonfiction. I live in Orange County, so this story was very entertaining. I really enjoyed the book and would recommend.Published 13 months ago by hoho from HB
I am not sure I can finish this book. It is so very whiny. One petulant sentence after another before, during, and after the move. Read morePublished 15 months ago by jimzmum
I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down when Nana duties called. A very honest and truthful memoir that I found very easy to read. Read morePublished 16 months ago by C. M. Monaghan
Super interesting gal and exemplary among us women. Not afraid to be herself. We should all strive to be more like her and enjoy the world around us. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Donna J. Hunt
So much is in here. Where to start? The fantasy of exotic beaches, blue water, fantastic animals? With self discovery and flexibility and a hunger for adventure? Read morePublished 18 months ago by Kindle Customer
Born in Denmark, Sonia Marsh early in her memoir admits to being a citizen of the world, having lived in France, England, the USA and Belize, the setting for this memoir. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Marian Beaman