Thriving Through Tough Times: Eight Cross-Cultural Strategies to Navigate Life's Ordeals
Combs provides a skimpy if sincere exploration of how different cultures address the inevitability of unwelcome change. Drawing on her background in cross-cultural conflict resolution, Combs funnels her ideas through the metaphor of death and rebirth, with the four seasons serving to illustrate the phases of acceptance and adjustment. Occasional interesting glimpses of non-Western practices work to illustrate cultural differences more than to synthesize them. The author's lapses into simplistic statements distract the reader, while her frequent invocation of the seasonal cycle sometimes fails to provide applicable insight and glides over her acknowledgement that different individuals spend varying time periods in each season. Combs also invokes cliché in contrasting the American "go-it-alone" paradigm for dealing with grief to the more culturally diffuse pattern of reliance on a support community. Combs's admissions that no checklist is universally applicable and that open-mindedness and willingness to adapt are crucial seem plausible, but leave readers wondering about the merit of her advice.