Friday, February 24, 2012

Running Away to Home // Reading to Know Bookclub February selection

I thoroughly enjoyed the Reading to Know bookclub’s February selection: Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters. This book brought back so many memories for me. In 1998, I traveled to Croatia for a two-week mission trip with my church and Campus Crusade.

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We stayed in the town of Split (located on the shores of the Adriatic). While I didn’t experience the rural setting the author did, just being in Croatia was such a stark contrast to my middle Tennessee home, there was a bit of culture shock. To an our American expectations of friendliness and hospitality, the Croatians are curt and abrupt. I could relate to the author’s experiences with the Croatian mindset:

“You are on Croatian time now. Get used to standing in line. Get used to waiting. Do not hurry. Nothing is easy.” p. 42

“I felt as if I’d traveled from the First World to the Third World in a three-hour drive.” (Or, in my case, a 10-ish hour plane ride). p. 21

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I was very excited to find an ice cold Diet Coke one day. It was seriously hot while I was over there. I admit the Croatians are tougher than I am because it was a hot, hot, HOT two weeks in July with no air conditioning.

This book was a reminder to me about the beauty of being a Croatian national. Their history has been troubled and bloody – “being Croatian meant getting used to other countries trying to steal your land – Austria, Serbia, Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia.” p. 16. They are a proud nation. Proud of the beauty of their country and their ability to survive.

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I also thoroughly enjoyed the author’s thoughts on the simplifying that she and her husband chose in this trip overseas, and the unity and closeness her family experienced during this time together from our American/modern distractions.

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I realize that these are fairly fractured thoughts on this book, but I’m having trouble drawing it all together. (Carrie at Reading to Know has a great review here that I nodded and hmm-mmm-ed as I read it and seems to sum up the book better than I did). Suffice it to say, I did enjoy the book. I do recommend it if you are interested in reading about the Croatian people. I do recommend it if you are interested in travel-type books or what it would be like to immerse yourself in another culture for an extended period of time. There is some profanity in the book and liberal alcohol use which I obviously don’t recommend, but it is an accurate picture of the Croatian lifestyle and is what it is. To have glossed over that fact wouldn’t have shown the full picture.

I’m glad to have read this book and have a short trip through my memeories (and photos) of my time in Croatia over fourteen years ago. (I’m well aware of how much younger I look in the picture above!)

Linking up with the wrap-up post over at Reading to Know for this book. If you are interested in more details on the Reading to Know bookclub check out this post. Our March read is Pilgrim’s Progress if you are interested in participating.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing about that book. I served an 18 month mission for the LDS Church in Slovenija, which is just north of Croatia, and even learned Slovene. I have such a ♥ and appreciation for the people that live in that area of the world and the hardships they have had to endure. I thorougly enjoyed seeing the pictures you posted...they brought back some great memories. I will definitely have to read that book. :)

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    1. I’m impressed that you learned the language! The only thing that I remember from my two weeks is how to say “ice cream”. The important stuff! I think you would enjoy this book – I’m sure it would bring back a LOT of memories. : )

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  2. What a FUN post! I LOVED looking at your pictures. (I remember being in England and finding a restaurant that put ice in the glass and I thought I had died and gone to Heaven or something. Ice! Cold drinks! Novel thought!!)

    Thanks for sharing. I can't say that I know many people who have been to Croatia! ;)

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    1. Yes! Ice in the drinks just didn’t happen there. Period. So finding a diet coke with tiny slivers of ice in the bottle – heaven or close to it! : )

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  3. Steph,

    Thanks for reading along. That is so neat that you have been to Croatia--thanks for sharing about your experience, and your response to this book.

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    1. You are welcome! Thanks for picking this one. : )

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  4. Loved reading your memories and seeing your pics even though I didn't read the book. :D

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Thanks for commenting!