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Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  34 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Traveling Heavy is a deeply moving, unconventional memoir by the master storyteller and cultural anthropologist Ruth Behar. Through evocative stories, she portrays her life as an immigrant child and later, as an adult woman who loves to travel but is terrified of boarding a plane. With an open heart, she writes about her Yiddish-Sephardic-Cuban-American family, as well as ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published April 24th 2013 by Duke University Press Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Ruth Behar came to the United States with her Sephardic Jewish family when she was five years old from Cuba. Although she grew to adulthood here in the States, the pull of her Cuban homeland has never left her. In her memoir, she tells of her many travels back to the island in search of her heritage.

Her story, told in the first-person, is viewed in a series of flashbacks in a non-linear narrative. This works well and does not prove to be confusing to the reader. Her memories of her grandparents

Behar wrote an amazing novel that manages to capture your interest in regards her life and experiences. I found the Jewish history and experiences of the jews worldwide incredibly interesting, as it somewhat resonated with my own family history and made me wonder about my own family's experiences and journeys. An enjoyable read that i suprisingly really liked, as i don't usually read or enjoy memoirs or biographical books.
There were parts that I loved, and others that i skimmed, however the majo
The book is a memoir of the author who has a surprisingly complicated ancestry and family history. Her forebears are both Ashkenazy and Sephardic Jews from Turkey and Spain, who fled Europe just before WWII to settle in Cuba, only to flee from there to Florida with the onset of Castro's communist take-over. It was a fascinating glimpse into lives spread over time and geography that one doesn't often, if ever, imagine. At the same time, upon reading this often lyrical prose about ordinary family ...more
Kristen Ghodsee
I keep a stack of books on my desk, a “to read” pile that taunts me all semester while I am teaching. I can never find the time to sit down with a book that is not directly related to one of my classes or my current research projects. Ruth Behar’s Traveling Heavy was somewhere in the middle of the pile, but since I will soon be moving to Germany for the year, I was inspired to read a book written by another itinerant academic.

This memoir absolutely enthralled me; I read it cover to cover withou
L.M. Quinn
When I was at UCLA during the first wave of Cuban immigrants to the US, I recall my Cuban student colleagues' stories of love and hopelessness at having to leave their beloved Cuba. I've always wanted to visit Cuba and see what they saw their. Ruth Bejar's story has made that wish even stronger. Her Cuban-jewish roots tug at the heart as she tells her story of her journeys to and from Cuba, journeys she refuses to end, the ties are too strong.
Dec 21, 2013 Jeremy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Beautiful essays --- Behar is a lovely hostess in these stories about her family, friends, career as a young anthropologist and more! This book is challenging, funny, kind.
Kathleen Duffy
A highly personal story.
I found this book fascinating. As an anthropology major in undergrad, I had the experience to read numerous ethnologies and learn about the methodologies used by cultural anthropologists. This book, in some places, read like a novel. Her voice was candid and you could feel the love she developed for the three countries she traveled extensively to and for the people she met. It was intriguing to read how her diverse cultural background has shaped her experience with the concept of "home." I reali ...more
"-and once a story is told it can never be lost."-Ruth Behar
Duke Press
“A heartfelt witness to the changing political and emotional landscape of the Cuban-American experience.”--Kirkus Reviews

“All those intrigued by their ancestral story will be moved by the personal quest and also by how—with the help of computers as well as the kindness of strangers—the lost can find their way home.”--Hazel Rochman, Booklist

“A moving story of finding oneself through a lifetime of travel, this will be a terrific addition to memoir and Judaica collections.”--Olga Wise, Library Jour
Clearly, an exceptional writer.

Opened my heart and mind towards what the immigrant experience is like.

My mother immigrated from Scotland to the U.S. in the late 1940's after WWII.

When I became old enough to have any understanding, I am awed at the courage it takes to leave behind everything and everyone you love to look for something different, maybe better.

For Behar, she left Cuba as a small child with her closest loved ones. But, as she so beautifully articulates, Cuba never left her.

An inte
Ruth Behar is a fascinating anthropologist, winner of a MacArthur "genius" award, and a Cuban-American Jew. This latest installment of memoir is well written, interesting, but a bit repetitious. The chapters read as independent essays, which makes good bedside reading material -- a chapter a night before I go to bed. It makes me want to track down her other books, especially" An Island Called Home."
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