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Comment: Normal signs of use to front and back cover, Corner Curling, Inside pages clean
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Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island Paperback – August 1, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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


"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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Gutsy Publications (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985403918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985403911
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,514,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Harper on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
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.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
All of us dream of escaping a deadening routine and life, but few act on it. In this memoir, Sonia Marsh takes us on a wild journey of risking what families rarely do . . . sell the house, chuck all the material possessions and move to a Third World Country.

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 . . .
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