Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family’s Lives Forever

John Marshall. Ballantine, $26 (352) ISBN 978-0-345-54964-8
In this memoir and travelogue, Marshall chronicles his family’s intense half-year international voluntourism trip. Reflecting on his teen son’s shy nature, his teen daughter’s self-absorption, and his slow separation from his wife, he convinces himself that a year of service could bring them all back together. Logistics and finances intervene to cut the trip down to six months, but what a six months! As they work at an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica, on organic farms in New Zealand, and with orphans in India, each new location combines beautiful scenery with a dose of sentiment, a good deal of humor, and some heartfelt consideration of the human condition. Marshall’s experience gives rise to phrases like “the thing about your second set of monkey bites is...” and “each day began at 4:15 a.m. with roosters.” His philosophy may not fit everyone and the ending is bittersweet, but this is an enticing call to service. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 02/10/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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