What would you do to get away from the rat race? What would you give up to try to get your child back on track? What would you go without in order to gain your family?
Author Sonia Marsh faced these questions and answered them by moving to Belize with her husband Duke and three sons. When the eldest of her boys, 13-year-old Steve, started to act out in ways that included raising his hand as if to strike her, she and Duke decided that the southern California lifestyle they led provided too many bad examples for him. She and her husband began to research other lifestyle choices. She tells their story in “Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island.”
They chose Belize, a tiny Central American country just under Mexico’s eastern edge. With affordable prices, tropical waters and a slower pace, Belize seemed ideal. Little did they realize what those ideal conditions might require, just to survive.
Marsh tells her family’s story with candor and humor. She shares the benefits and the difficulties inherent in making such a move. She relates their bad choices as well as their good ones. No villains dominate the story and Marsh doesn’t try to present her family as heroes. She shares their adventures as they experience what might be considered the adventure of a lifetime.
Hidden amid the joys are little nuggets of cautionary tales: the difficulties with water supply and limited food variety, the vast economic difference between the native population and many of the expatriates who chose Belize for a new start, the misunderstandings caused by cultural differences. Marsh also addresses the issue of expats who “go native” and lose any desire to do anything more than hang out at local bars.
For all the difficulties, though, this story shows a group of people triumphing over circumstances to become a family again. They give up material possessions to find a much more precious treasure.
The lively memoir engages from the first page, as Marsh and her husband face a storm that threatens to keep them from sailing to collect their youngest son, Josh, from school in town. The story continues at a quick pace as she recounts the circumstances leading up to the move and the adjustments required by the change of lifestyle. When she questions her choices, the reader shares the question and the discovery of the answer.
“Freeways to Flip-Flops” will appeal to those who enjoy reading personal adventure stories, family dramas or “triumph over adversity” tales. The author brings all of those perspectives into play in the book and does so with style.
Marsh might be considered an expert on adapting to new lifestyles. She lived all over the world on several continents. Her background has led her to begin a motivational speaking business based on being a “Gutsy” woman and encouraging others to develop the same attitude.
“Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island” by Sonia Marsh
Published by Gutsy Publications
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review copy provided by the author or publisher with no restrictions as to content. All opinions are my own.