I recently read the book Halfway to Each Other - How a Year in Italy brought our Family Home by Susan Pohlman. In the very beginning of this travel memoir, we learn that both the author and her husband, Tim, are tired of pretending to be in a happy marriage. In fact, the author was so over her marriage that she had secretly begun divorce proceedings. So imagine her surprise when on a business trip to the Italian Riviera to schmooze some of Tim’s potential radio clients, the pair become smitten by the region and begin exploring the possibilities of actually living there. The couple agrees that the "American Dream" lifestyle they worked so hard to achieve had failed them. By the end of the trip, they had secured a fully furnished apartment in the small coastal town of Nervi for one year.
A few months later, the couple, along with their eleven-year-old son and fourteen-year-old daughter, find themselves immersed in a foreign culture where they have to rely heavily upon one another for support. The book follows the foursome on their journey as they explore the strange new world they reside in. They have to start from scratch on everything, from learning a new language and local customs, to figuring out grocery shopping, enrolling the kids in school, and even making new friends. In the beginning, none of it came easy, but as they navigated the new terrain, they found strength in one another.
Halfway to Each Other is a story about relationships--old and new--and about bonding through adversity and having faith that new life can be breathed into stale relationships. I don’t think the couple could have asked for better marital therapy. Going through all those new experiences together nudged them into playing on the same team and they learned to trust one another again.
The story was expertly crafted with the tools of a skilled writer. I enjoyed the author’s good balance of narrative and dialog and her ability to paint vivid scenes with carefully chosen words. The stories she chose, whether it was a travel excursion through the Italian countryside or a visit with friends over dinner, all reinforced the theme of family and relationships. I liked the book from the very beginning because the author never sugarcoated the main reason why the trip ever came into being—she and Tim’s marital conflict. Plus, I’ll have to admit I was intrigued with the setting of the story. While reading the book, I found myself regularly Googling the Italian Riviera and daydreaming about my own trip to the area. Who couldn’t use a life refresher like that?
Fellow RVers will enjoy this book as many of us understand the reason why the couple dropped their usual routine for a year in Italy. So many RVers hit the road for the same reasons—the disillusionment with the so-called "American Dream" lifestyle and needing to get out of the ruts we’ve created for ourselves.
Whether you live in a fifth wheel, a cushy home in the burbs, or a small apartment on the Italian Riviera, you’re sure to enjoy this tale about restoring faith, navigating relationships, and bonding through shared experiences.
Note: I rented this book through the Multnomah County Library System.