Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wide-Open World

For readers of Three Cups of Tea; Eat, Pray, Love; and Wild comes the inspiring story of an ordinary American family that embarks on an extraordinary journey. Wide-Open World follows the Marshall family as they volunteer their way around the globe, living in a monkey sanctuary in Costa Rica, teaching English in rural Thailand, and caring for orphans in India. There’s a name for this kind of endeavor—voluntourism—and it might just be the future of travel.

Oppressive heat, grueling bus rides, backbreaking work, and one vicious spider monkey . . . Best family vacation ever!

To begin with I think you should know that this is not your regular Travel Memoir it is more of a family vacation but with a unique and positive twist. The Marshall family was stuck in a stagnant phase in their family life. John and his wife are having marital problems while their two children grow up quickly before them. John decides what their family needs is to unplug and spend a year together in unique places around the world, but without the money to fund such a trip he did not know what to do, until three words popped into his head “Year Of Service” (It was not a full year). Therefore, the family worked for a place to stay and the meals that were provided for them in secluded locations around the globe.

The story is told solely by John Marshall, who has a peculiar sense of humor that after a few chapters I grew to enjoy. This book has a nice flow to it making it easy to follow. The Marshall family stayed in unique places made the story incredibly interesting. John did a satisfying job of describing to the reader where the family stayed, what they did for work and fun, and explaining the indigenous people and surroundings. I found it amazing the whole family shared one room throughout almost the whole trip and they all returned back home alive. John's goal of the “Year Of Service” was not only to have a vacation, but to instill certain positive traits in his children and to show them what the real world is actually like while Also trying to salvage his marriage. Therefore, the book is not focused only on travel, but also on this family, such as, how each individual family member faced each expedition, the internal growth that occurred and how each person changed differently, and finally what they took away from this adventure. John did a phenomenal job of intertwining both aspects of the book. Whereas, the last few chapters felt rushed and due to the fact the family had split-up going to different locations it was slightly confusing keeping track of what location they were at.    

It is excellent what the Marshall family did. They brought joy to many people on their journey. Yet, I do not think this type of trip is for all families. Just as I do not think this book is for all readers. If you enjoy books that are purely about the travel experience this might not be the book for you. Why? Because this book has two dimensions one regarding travel that is intertwined with a story of a family. If you are looking for something inspiring to read this book is for you.

“...recent UNICEF figures, there are somewhere around thirty-one million orphans in India alone...Thirty-one million is twice as many people as every man, woman and child in the six states that make up New England. It’s as if the entire states of Texas and Colorado...were inhabited by orphaned children”

This is John's Website It shows not only pictures from their "Year Of Service" but also volunteer opportunities you at home can help with!

Thank You, Netgalley, for letting me give an honest review of this book

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