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Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"A suburban family discovers that trading materialism for a simple life on a tropical island helps them reconnect in unexpected ways."
What do you do when life in sunny Southern California starts to seem plastic, materialistic and just plain hellish?
For Sonia and Duke Marsh, the answer was to sell their worldly goods and move to an unspoiled, simpler life with their three s
Paperback, 328 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Gutsy Publications (first published August 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  133 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am sure that this is a question that haunts any mother: what would you do if your teenage son was going off the track? Would you send him away to try to go and sort himself out? Would you try to deal with the issue yourself? Would you become depressed? Would you seek a family therapist?
Faced with such a situation, Sonia devised an innovative plan: she moved all the family to Belize for a year.
Her move surprised everybody, but somehow worked. Having a different pace of life and having to deal w
Lynne Spreen
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midlife
What an intriguing premise: a family moves from Orange County, CA to the country of Belize because the parents are worried that their three boys (adolescent to teenaged) are becoming corrupted by the culture of urban, privileged southern California. Also the father, an attorney, is discouraged and burned out from his high-pressure job.

In Belize, they encounter bugs, bad food, and scarce water. They receive the gift of breathtaking scenery, the pleasure of simple things, and the joy of becoming
Sharon Lippincott
Sonia Marsh’s memoir, Freeways to Flipflops, gripped my attention from the first sentence and held me spell-bound through the last word. Lots of people dream of escaping to live on a tropical island. Few actually do. Author Sonia Marsh and her family did just that for a variety of reasons. The adults were suffering career and California Lifestyle burnout. One of their sons was heading down a very bad path. In desperation, they heeded the call of Belize, selling everything and moving to an island ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, as I won this book as part of First Reads, I would like to thank the author for the chance to read and review this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a family who moved to Belize for a year. After some problems with their eldest teenage son, Sonia & Duke decided to move the family to Belize in order to try to mend the fractures in their family. This book is about the experiences they had and the trials they faced in living in a third world country. Interestingly, when things star
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Janie by: Kas
Met the author at book club yesterday, and she is a spunky lady with the brand, "gutsy living." Wouldn't we all like to think we were gutsy in some way? She relocated her family to Belize from Orange County California because her teenage son had become completely unmanageable. Her husband was also trying to escape the rat race of an unfulfilling career as an attorney. They discovered new insurmountable challenges, and Belize turned out to not be the anticipated paradise, yet they accomplished th ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this look into the ups and downs a family experiences when uprooted and re-located to Belize. Witnessing the variety of impacts the move had on each family member, from positive to negative, yielded an interesting look into the different ways people respond to change. It proved an interesting cultural assessment of Belizian life, often a stark contrast to the well-off, materialistic lives the family had grown accustom to in California. I enjoyed getting to know this family through this d ...more
Linda Kovic-Skow
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Freeways to Flip-Flops recounts the real-life adventure of a family's move from Los Angeles to Belize to find a better, simpler life. Sonia, her husband and their three boys experience a few set backs before the move, but these pale in comparison to the problems they experience once they arrive in "Paradise." I often found myself wondering how they coped with such adversity. The story is told in an honest, straightforward fashion that will keep the reader turning pages until the very end. ...more
Karen Vandenbosch
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Won this on goodreads and really enjoyed it! Fantastic real life adventure. I commend the author for taking the plunge and spending a year in Belize. What an awesome experience and interesting to read what they learned from it. Thanks!
April Yamasaki
Engaging, inspiring, and a great example of indie publishing.
Jill Paschal
Admittedly, the title of the book is what drew me in. The writing has a lot left to be desired as it seemed like each chapter was incomplete or that the author was remembering as she wrote; more like journal entries. I can understand why after living in Orange County California why the author and her husband decided to make a big move to Belize (I myself live in the same county and can relate on some things she describes). However, the more I read, the more the author annoyed me! I mean really, ...more
Jeanna Barrett
First off, the author is racist and uses way too many references to “Creole men” and “Creole drug dealers.” As an expat living in Belize with Belizean friends, this makes me mad. There are some okay “how Belize will change you” lessons in here that I agree with. Although there are a lot of wide sweeping, dumb statements by the author like how her kids were forced to survive off Frosted Flakes and powdered milk for a year. And how they took them out of the materials of Orange County and wanted th ...more
Sandra Bornstein
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
After visiting Sonia Marsh's website, Gutsy Living, I was intrigued. I couldn't wait to read her memoir. I wondered what would cause a family to uproot themselves from the comforts of Southern California and move to a Third World country. I also questioned what this family hoped to gain after they relocated to an unlikely location, Belize.

The opening chapter provided a taste of what they encountered in Belize. I immediately knew that life would be more difficult than they had ever anticipated. U
Ian Mathie
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
To up-sticks and abandon the luxury of life in Orange County, California in favor of a beach front shack in Belize, taking three teenage boys with you takes a lot of bottle. To do this with relatively little consideration and planning, as Sonia Marsh and her husband Duke did, is either foolhardy or very courageous. With their hand slightly forced by the teenage troubles of their elder son, they took a bold leap into the dark, sold up and moved, lock stock and barrel to a Caribbean island communi ...more
Kathleen Pooler
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sonia Marsh’s writing voice in Freeway to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on Tropical Island is so genuine and convincing, I felt I was not just reading a compelling story but that I was watching a movie I was in. In her first chapter, she pulls me right into her story with a harrowing scene of the first storm encountered since uprooting her family to an island in Belize, Central America. Once I knew she had uprooted her family, I wanted to know what ever possessed her to make such a ...more

In the epilogue, Sonia reflects, ‘Had it not been for a leaking toilet, we might never have healed our family.’ Readers are offered an intimate glimpse into the mind and emotional state of a mother whose fears about the deteriorating state of her family become the courage that sets into motion an extraordinary journey.
Throughout my read of this captivating memoir, a question continued to sit with me. “How far off the ledge of conventional normalcy would I step in order to regain the integrit
Sylvia Morice
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How many of us have dreamed about moving to a tropical island paradise to spend the remainder of our days relaxing by the crystal clear water, enjoying a cool drink with a little pink umbrella sticking out of the glass, and sleeping at night with the sound of waves lapping onto the beach mere feet from our rooms?

I purchased Sonia Marsh’s book, Freeways to Flip-Flops, from Amazon when it came out in eBook format in August. I’ve been a fan of Sonia’s blog, Gutsy Living, for quite some time now and
Susan Weidener
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Bonnie Kassel
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I admire people who have the confidence and strength to make a change instead of sitting around complaining. But what Sonia Marsh writes about in Freeways to Flip-Flops, only a fraction of the people on the planet would have the courage to do. Sonia didn't grow up feeling rooted to one place. She had an international background which allowed her to look out in the world for a solution to problems. When all three of her sons demonstrated a sense of entitlement absorbed from living in California, ...more
Janet Givens
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: many people
Shelves: memoir

In Freeways to Flip-flops, Sonia March writes a saga of relationships: with her husband, her sons, her neighbors, other expats in Belize, with the locals of Belize whom she had once thought were her friends, and finally with herself. She writes with candor (and in a voice so clear, I swore I could hear her) of her fears of losing her oldest son, her tendency to worry too much, her disappointment in her husband, and her naïve assumptions of how to fit into the culture of Belize. She writes of her
Madeline Sharples
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
From the minute I started reading Sonia Marsh’s memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops I wanted to know how her story was going to turn out. I felt like I was reading a thrilling mystery: about a family deciding to sell everything and move to a tropical island in a third-world country in Central America. Though they were motivated to get away from materialistic Southern California and to resolve the growing problems with their teenager, the oldest of three sons, I wanted to know if a move to Belize was r ...more
Belinda Nicoll
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Sonia Marsh takes you full circle in this thoughtful memoir about a family's rite of passage. Worried about their oldest son's unwanted behavior, Marsh and her husband decide to opt out of glitzy California and move to the echo-friendly island of Belize with their three sons and the family dog. In short, easy-to-read vignettes, Marsh sketches the family's ups and downs as they try and engage with a Robinson Crusoe type of existence in a place where the attitudes of locals and other expats are re ...more
Madeline Sharples
From the minute I started reading Sonia Marsh's memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops I wanted to know how her story was going to turn out. I felt like I was reading a thrilling mystery: about a family deciding to sell everything and move to a tropical island in a third-world country in Central America. Though they were motivated to get away from materialistic Southern California and to resolve the growing problems with their teenager, the oldest of three sons, I wanted to know if a move to Belize was r ...more
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My kids have grown so used to me saying "If you need me I'll be on my island (meaning my office,) that it has become a family joke. The difference between Sonia Marsh and me, is that she actually really did go to the island!

I developed a great respect for this author throughout the course of reading this book. While most of us only dream about doing something like this, the pioneering family in this true life adventure actually did it. They threw caution to the wind and really lived life!

What I
Mary Gottschalk
Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 humorous
Biography Book Reviews
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Here's the full review:

Freeways to Flip-Flops as an enlightening memoir that is a meditation in itself. Everyone can relate to the stress and problems that the Marsh family has experienced. Maybe everyone is also dreaming a beautiful escape somewhere. People from third-world countries will most likely choose California, while people from first-world countries will dream of moving to a place like Belize. Everywhere, there are struggles to survive—be it in
Katherine Sartori
Sonia Marsh's gutsy move from California to Belize may seem radical to some. But not to me. Having raised a difficult teen myself, I could identify with her desire to uproot her family when I read how her son began hanging out with undesirables and defying his parents at every turn. When teens act out, parents fantasize and search for any means possible to reclaim their children. The difference is, Sonia and her husband did something VERY unusual about it.

This memoir flows very well; I read it i
Michelle Bendetti
"Freeways to Flip-Flops" is quite different than I thought it would be. Who hasn't said they want to throw it all away and move to a tropical island once or twice? I know I have. So when I started this book, I thought it would be an entertaining account of a year spent in a tropical paradise, just like a week vacation only longer. I was wrong! This book is so much more than that. From the reasons that the author and her husband decide to leave Southern California to the actual living conditions ...more
 Gigi Ann
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I had been looking forward to reading this book by Sonia Marsh for a few years now. And I must say I found this book "Freeways to Flip-Flops" an exciting book to read from the first page right to the end. It is filled with her year of adventures in Belize with her family. She chronicles all her experiences of living in a third-world country including the many ups and downs they experienced, especially living in a different culture, and way of life in Belize.

I found it interesting how when Sonia
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sonia Marsh's memoir about finding her own paradise by moving with her family to Belize hooked me from the first action-packed chapter. As a person who has always fantasized living abroad, I was interested in this story about an Orange County family who sells everything and relocates to a tropical paradise to find their family's center. Who doesn't want a fresh start from time to time?

Told in an engaging and clear narrative, Sonia details her family's struggles, the practicalities of moving to,
Rita Gardner
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
From the first chapter, Sonia Marsh’s book had me hanging on to the rails of their boat, the Island Ferry, praying it wouldn’t sink in the storm that was threatening their family. The family’s decision to leave the comfort of Southern California living (complete with an electric boat in a placid lake) to move to Belize and the paradoxes of a third-world culture was either a brave choice or a foolish whim, and it both disconnected and then connected the family in ways no one expected. “Freeways t ...more
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Sonia Marsh is the award-winning author of the travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island. Her story is about chucking it all and uprooting her family—with teenagers— to reconnect on an island in Belize. Her memoir has received 8 awards, including 2014 Gold Medal winner in memoirs at the READERS' FAVORITE AWARDS and 1st Place, in the “Autobiography/M ...more

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