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Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of… (edition 2012)

by Jennifer Wilson

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

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I applaud the Wilson family for taking on what they did. I enjoyed he book but found it frustrating so little was accomplished in her genealogy search. I couldn't figure this out. Why she and her husband would undertake such a journey without first mastering even rudimentary Croatian is so, so, so stupid. Generally I loved the descriptions of places and people even though I became infuriated with their infatuation with their pitiful drunkard friend, Robert, who places such a key role in the book. Having traveled this country myself, it only reminded me of the sad and discouraging outlook one has after such a visit. ( )
  repb | Mar 18, 2014 |
I enjoyed this book of not only researching family history, but living in the ancestors' home village and meeting new relatives. I liked how Jen learned not to stand outside as an observer but instead participate in daily activities, thus making new and valued friends. ( )
  krin5292 | Jan 30, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
My latest armchair travel read was another highly engrossing memoir of a family packing it all up and leaving America to see what more is out there in this big old world. In Running Away to Home, Jennifer is the matriarch and her ancestors are from Croatia. When the economy crashed a few years ago her and her husband, Jim, found themselves discussing how their life had perhaps become too materialistic overtime. With two kids and busy lives, they found that their days were filled with endless shopping and the need to fill their house with more, more, more, yet they were never really satisfied and never felt like the had the time to truly spend with each other.

Coupled with the need to stop this, was Jennifer's want to find her roots. She was a travel writer and finagles an article that sends her to Croatia. It's enough to whet her appetite and her husband whole-heartedly supports the plan of taking a sabbatical in order to spend more time with his family and get a little more back to the land in Croatia.

Jen's ancestors are from the small Croatian town of Mrkopalj. This is a town of maybe 1,000 people full of farmers, loggers, heavy drinkers, and happy people. When the Wilsons arrive with their two small children in tow they still aren't really sure what they have gotten themselves into.

What ensues is one of the sweetest, most laugh out loud, heartwarming stories I have read in a long time. Jim instantly feels welcomed into the bosom of this town. Jen, on the other hand, has a harder time making her way. The children, in a similar fashion, have some bumps and starts but then soon grow to have a blast with the freedom this small town gives them. The characters you meet in Mrkopalj can't help but make you smile and the whole story is so inspiring, it made me want to pack up and move my family abroad to a small town too.

Honestly, I can't recommend Running Away to Home enough. Just read it! ( )
  amusedbybooks | Nov 23, 2012 |
A woman wanting to get her family out of their middle America, middle class rut moves her husband, young son and daughter to the Croatia her great grandparents immigrated from 100 year ago to find family and live a simpler life.
  ctighe4261 | Apr 12, 2012 |
Jennifer Wilson, a free-lance travel writer living in Des Moines, Iowa, and her husband Jim, an architect, (and their two young children) decide to take a year to live in Croatia, the land of Jennifer's ancestors, in hopes of discovering more about them. They face a number of obstacles including the difficulty of finding housing in her ancestral village, the language barrier, and access to records. Jennifer seems to be a bit unprepared for her genealogical ventures. An organized research plan is never shown and most of what she is doing seems to be random. She also seems to be content to leave her research at the parents of her immigrant ancestors instead of trying to go back further. She does mention loss of records in the narrative, but the main record mentioned as being lost is the record of burials. I'm certain there are other records which could have been explored for the time period. The Family History Library guide mentions some that they have filmed or are in the process of filming. The reader does come away with a feel for some of the family's experiences in the country, but there are gaps in the narrative and places where you want more details and many places where you want far less information. ( )
  thornton37814 | Feb 25, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312598955, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:24 -0400)

Documents the experiences of a family that set aside their unfulfilling, over-scheduled lives in the American Midwest for a sabbatical in a tiny Croatian mountain village, where for several months they reconnected with the author's family, herded sheep and lived according to local customs.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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