Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson
Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters

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Synopsis

A middle class, Midwestern family in search of meaning uproot themselves and move to their ancestral village in Croatia

“We can look at this in two ways,” Jim wrote, always the pragmatist. “We can panic and scrap the whole idea. Or we can take this as a sign. They’re saying the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. Maybe this is the kick in the pants we needed to do something completely different. There will always be an excuse not to go…”

And that, friends, is how a typically sane middle-aged mother decided to drag her family back to a forlorn mountain village in the backwoods of Croatia.

So begins the author’s journey in Running Away to Home. Jen, her architect husband, Jim, and their two children had been living the typical soccer- and ballet-practice life in the most Middle American of places: Des Moines, Iowa. They overindulged themselves and their kids, and as a family they were losing one another in the rush of work, school, and activities. One day, Jen and her husband looked at each other–both holding their Starbucks coffee as they headed out to their SUV in the mall parking lot, while the kids complained about the inferiority of the toys they just got–and asked themselves: "Is this the American dream? Because if it is, it sort of sucks."

Jim and Jen had always dreamed of taking a family sabbatical in another country, so when they lost half their savings in the stock-market crash, it seemed like just a crazy enough time to do it. High on wanderlust, they left the troubled landscape of contemporary America for the Croatian mountain village of Mrkopalj, the land of Jennifer's ancestors. It was a village that seemed hermetically sealed for the last one hundred years, with a population of eight hundred (mostly drunken) residents and a herd of sheep milling around the post office. For several months they lived like locals, from milking the neighbor's cows to eating roasted pig on a spit to desperately seeking the village recipe for bootleg liquor. As the Wilson-Hoff family struggled to stay sane (and warm), what they found was much deeper and bigger than themselves.

 

About Jennifer Wilson

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JENNIFER WILSON is an award-winning writer who has chronicled her travels, both epic and around the corner, in National Geographic Traveler, Gourmet, Esquire, Midwest Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Frommer's Budget Travel, Parents, and Disney Family Fun. Running Away to Home was awarded Best Nonfiction Book of 2011 by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
 
Published October 11, 2011 by St. Martin's Press. 333 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Running Away to Home

Kirkus Reviews

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A "typically sane middle-aged mother" of two reinvents herself and her family with a spontaneous sabbatical to her central European origins.

Sep 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

BC Books

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One major failing of the book, though, is that it contains no pictures, despite the fact Wilson's web site contains 128 photos in a gallery called "Life in the Village."

Nov 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

BC Books

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You wouldn’t think that the answers to some of life’s most pressing questions — what really makes us happy, how to build meaningful family connections, how to make bootleg liquor — could be found in a small Croatian town, especially if that town is in a region known for its wolf and wild boar-fil...

Nov 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

BC Books

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Wilson chronicles her family's sojourn in Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters.

Nov 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

Kirkus Reviews

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As I mentioned above, Jim and I had been working up the courage to do something we’d always dreamed about: escape to a place where we could live simply with our kids, Sam and Zadie.

Oct 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

Seattle PI

Although Wilson was the one in search of where she came from, her husband and children (six and almost four at the time) adapted more rapidly to village life and the cultural differences.

Nov 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Running Away to Home: Our Fam...

Reader Rating for Running Away to Home
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