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

Freeways to Flip-Flops by Sonia Marsh
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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 . . . Then walking the beach one starry night in their flip-flops, the family looks up to see a shooting star and senses the possibility of magic, the beginning realization that beauty is not so much a place, as a state of mind, of being connected to one another as a family. That and the adventure that comes with trying something different and taking a risk, brings them together and is an important life lesson to be shared and savored.

What makes this memoir worth reading is the honesty of the author; not sugar-coating the family's experiences and interactions with each other. I would have liked less description of the family's lifestye in Belize and more reflection from the author. "I always felt it was impossible to escape mentally unless I escaped physically," Marsh writes with honesty and insight. I wanted more of this . .. a deeper glimpse into who Sonia Marsh is when she isn't juggling all the balls, dancing the dance, of trying to be the best possible wife and mother.

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