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Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  181 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Between Worlds will resonate with those who have lived outside of their passport country, as well as those who have not. These essays explore the rootlessness and grief as well as the unexpected moments of humor and joy that are a part of living between two worlds. Between Worlds charts a journey between the cultures of East and West, the comfort of being surrounded by lov ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Doorlight Publications
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In this book, author Marilyn R. Gardner presents a compelling collection of essays. Conversational in tone and rich in descriptive insights, Marilyn’s short works unfold an intimate look at moments in her life. Each memory is lovingly crafted onto the page and contextualized within the global perspective she has now, as an adult.

Marilyn’s story is special, though perhaps not entirely unique in the community of expats and Third Culture Kids. She was born in Massachusetts while her parents were vi
Alyssa Yoder
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I cried a lot, reading this book. It helped me heal and helped answer some of my questions about calling and identity and belonging. I felt so seen, so connected, in ways I don't often feel in the expat world, even though Marilyn and I are quite different. I wish I would have read it years earlier. I highly recommend this to any expat or to anyone who is heading overseas. ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
fabulous! very much want to read passages through pakistan.
Angelyn Vaughan
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-2015
3.5 stars.
I didn't realize that this book was about being an adult Third Culture Kid, so I was expecting to read more about living overseas in general. I still enjoyed the stories and filed away some wisdom for raising kids abroad. I would imagine this book resonates clearly with its target audience.
The book wasn't edited well, which didn't bother me. It did bother me that it occasionally reads as if no one else experiences grief, awkwardness, or instability except TCKs. While they definitely ex
Wes F
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great stuff from a TCK perspective. Engaging, reflective, realistic, poignant, insightful, and especially helpful & encouraging for one who has grown up "between worlds." I want all my kids to read this book. Great job, Marilyn! ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read for all, but especially for those who have lived cross culturally or call more than one location on earth "home". ...more
Tim Hoiland
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite quotes from Eugene H. Peterson (a writer whose work I devour) comes from the foreword to a book he didn’t write, called Sidewalks in the Kingdom. “I find that cultivating a sense of place as the exclusive and irreplaceable setting for following Jesus is even more difficult than persuading men and women of the truth of the message of Jesus,” Peterson, a longtime pastor, writes. “God’s great love and purposes for us are worked out in the messes in our kitchens and backyards, in ...more
Jen Chile
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So relatable!

As someone who lived outside of her passport country, underwent reentry, and left again this time bringing children, this deeply resonated. I derived meaning not just for myself, but also my children (who insist they are from Egypt. They’ve been here since 14 months old, so I guess there’s some truth there). This looks at the expat/TCK experience through the lens of a TCK/missionary kid who also took her children abroad. I really enjoyed!
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can't say enough good things about this book! To anyone who moved a lot, lived overseas, has a loved one who's lived overseas, has returned from living someplace very different, or just an American kid of divorce bouncing between worlds, THIS IS YOUR BOOK.

It covers everything from preparing to leave to reentry struggles. The author's story telling style is ready to read.

WARNING: You may end up highlighting so many things that you decide to tag it again
"For the one whose heart is set on pilgrimage, goodbyes add up... So when she comes to you, don’t ask her where she’s from, or what’s troubling her. Ask her where she’s lived. Ask her what she’s left behind. Open doors. And just listen." ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book for Third Culture Kids to understand how to process their own experiences of being raised in a host country and outside their parent's culture. ...more
Elizabeth Peterson
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal! Anyone who works across a culture or would like to needs to read this book. I laughed and cried but mostly, I felt understood. Highly, highly recommended.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: learning, real-life, 2020
Glad I picked this up on a giveaway table. Have scanned a few pages of great descriptions and empathy.
Easy to digest in little pieces.
Mar 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tck
This book was incredible. The author does an excellent job of putting her experiences and feelings into words. Anyone who has experienced cross-cultural moves will be able to relate.
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
Many thanks to Marilyn R. Gardner for the lovely handwritten note that she put in the front of my Goodreads giveaway copy.

Gardner grew up in Pakistan as a child of American missionaries and raised her own kids in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to the U.S. (Massachusetts). Between Worlds is split into seven different sections (ranging from Grief & Loss to Identity to Airports), with the sections split into essays of two or three pages each that deal with different musings or memories. Gardner'
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won-books
I won this book by entering a Goodreads Giveaway.

I really enjoyed reading this book of essays. It was a book I could set down and easily pick back up in a few days. I found it very interesting to hear about Marilyn's experiences in living overseas for most of her life and coming "home" to visit. She has lived a very interesting life and was seen as an outcast because of the life her parents chose for her. The tales of boarding school, vacations and everyday life that she led I found interesting.
Jeff Robinson
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author grew up in Pakistan and as an adult lived overseas as well. Her stories come from her own coming and going throughout the years. They are a set of reflections processing her experiences and the ways that God as provided and cared for her as a child and as a parent as she built relationships, said goodbye, grieved, navigated new cultural experiences abroad and in the US. Reading this book was wonderfully comforting. I am not a "third culture kid" but have lived outside of my passport c ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. I haven't read any one else capable of understanding and describing with such precision he joys, pains, struggles and tensions of being missionaries, and in particular of being MK or TCK. Thank you Marylin Gardner for sharing your heart and wisdom, making us laugh and cry at the same time. This book is refreshing, a must read. Once you get to the last page you feel lifted up and encouraged, somehow understood. I will certainly advice it to many friends, parents and growing ...more
Mylon Pruett
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Every good story has a conflict. Never being fully part of any world is ours. This is what makes our stories and memories rich and worth hearing. We live between worlds, sometimes comfortable in one, sometimes in the other, but only truly comfortable in the space between. This is our conflict and the heart of our story."

Very good book that talks through what it's like to grow up in a third culture. Insightful look as to how that can direct the outlook on the rest of your life. Definitely recomm
Sherri Tobias
A letter from "home" for the TCK, nomad, or wanderer

It's fitting that I read this on a flight "home" after an unexpected two-week visit to the other side of the world to be with my mother following emergency surgery. Such is the world of the Third Culture Kid (TCK), a world Marilyn Gardner brings to life in this collection of interconnected essays that marries the rich biographical details of her own story with thought-provoking insights into the larger story of those who experience life as a jo
John Benson
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book's essays, I think, grew out of her blog on issues affecting Third Culture Kids and Adult Third Culture Kids. She takes around 70 of these essays and brings them out in key themes that affect TCK lives like place, identity, grief, travel, and other issues. Having worked on a book about the lives of missionary kids (MKs, of which Marilyn is one) for the past 15 years, I found while my own book often expanded on these themes, her book crystalized these themes perfectly. A very good book f ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Window to My Soul

Although I am not a TCK, I raised four of them in three countries. This book, written by an ATCK, touches so many aspects of what it's truly like to live 'between worlds', that I will come back to it again and again for inspiration and an extra dose of wisdom as I apply Marilyn's to my own experiences. I would recommend this to any TCKs, cross-cultural workers, anyone who works with TCKs, and any spouse or friend of a TCK. I give it a five-star rating, because it touched my soul
Emma Pederson
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
As somebody who plans to live abroad, this book spoke to me. While I sense that Marilyn Gardner has many, many fascinating stories to tell, in these essays, she focuses on what these stories mean. She tells us what it is like to be a third culture kid, to be a stranger in one's homeland, to find oneself in situations most Americans can scarcely imagine. And she tells this in a way that anyone can learn from, whether or not they have had any of the same experiences.
I received this book in a Goodr
Nov 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, expat
While the book was written for TCKs (third culture kids) I am a mom of 3 TCKs and an expat for almost 9 years, I so get it. I don't fit in the US any more. I don't fit in my adopted country either. Marilyn shares her heart stories of growing up in Pakistan and then returning to the US for college. She marries and returns to her life outside the US to only return several years later.

A series of essays share her heart thoughts.

A book that helps me to realize I am not alone.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
The words "between worlds" is the perfect description of a TCK life, and Gardner has captured the beauty and pain of living that life. As an adult living abroad and raising TCKs, I appreciated her brutal honesty (to know what my kids will feel) and enjoyed her humor and wisdom. In the end, I feel she leaves us readers with the thought that this nomadic life is hard...but worth it. ...more
Joy Kleman
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was not necessarily written in 'my style,' but it offers great insight on what people who have lived in or travelled countries all over the world may encounter when conversing with other people who have not had that same opportunity. The last 20% of the book was VERY good-- I highlighted a lot of statements that stuck out to me.

Amusing stories and practical tips.
Nancy DeValve
I rated the book with three stars just because most of what's in the book is not new to me. Ms. Gardner is a good writer and I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes. I appreciated the book enough that I would recommend it to TCK's who are struggling with certain aspects of entering into their passport culture. ...more
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book of essays for the globally mobile is full of wonderful observations, good advice, and heart-wrenching stories. It is a must-read for the person who grows up outside their parents' home culture. Organized by issue, it's fast reading, poignant, and thought-provoking. Highly recommended. ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am not a TCK, but I have crossed cultures and work with a great number of others who have crossed cultures. I found a great deal of truth in its pages, and resonated with the author's experiences. I'd recommend this book. ...more
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! As a TCK myself, a lot of what the author wrote about resonates with me. This is just a series of essays under different categories. Some are stories, some are observations, some are lessons learned. Interesting and worth the read especially if you are a TCK
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“Every good story has a conflict. Never being fully part of any world is ours. This is what makes our stories and memories rich and worth hearing. We live between worlds, sometimes comfortable in one, sometimes in the other, but only truly comfortable in the space between. This is our conflict and the heart of our story.” 0 likes
“For those who wear the third culture kid label and the Global Nomad tag proudly, the word ‘rooted’ is scary. For all we speak, ponder, and write of identity and crisis, for all we wistfully try to articulate what it means to belong, being ‘rooted’ can be terrifying. Here are some myths that I have believed about being rooted: being rooted means I’m from here. Being rooted means I can’t leave. Being rooted means I’m stuck. But perhaps being rooted gives strength. Perhaps being rooted doesn’t mean I give up who I am; perhaps it means that I securely use my past as a bridge to my present. Rooted means I grow strong, like the sunflowers that are growing high in our garden, faces raised to the sun.” 0 likes
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