If you’re anything like me, when you stay rooted to one spot for too long you get itchy feet. You start to fantasize about foreign words and lands, about getting lost in a city with beautiful architecture…and men. Okay, maybe those are my fantasies.
Sometimes circumstances in life get in the way of a planned getaway. Usually these circumstances pop up unforeseen in the form of new commitments or a tight wallet. My solution to such travel woes is literary escape into a travel memoir. I prefer quick reads and I found just what I was looking for in “Postcards from France” by Megan McNeill Libby.
I don’t remember what I was looking for when this book popped up on my radar but I’m glad it did. I borrowed the book from the library (yes, I’m a true book worm and I still use my library card) but I loved it so much I will buy it to own.
Here is the synopsis:
Could you leave all the things you love for the adventure of a lifetime?
As a junior in high school, Megan McNeill Libby left behind the familiar comforts of suburban New England to live abroad as an exchange student. Now, in this charming collection of thoughts and vignettes, she takes readers of every age on a delightful, memorable tour through her year in France. Poignant and endearing, innocent yet wise. Postcards from France captures her adventure in vivid detail: waging war with the French language and the magic moment when she finally understood everyone around her; her wonderfully hilarious attempt at making Thanksgiving dinner–with a deer; her feelings of loneliness on the first day at a foreign school, and so much more. The perfect letter from a friend, Postcards is a rare gem of a book that will delight anyone who has ever dreamed of traveling or living in a foreign country.
I must make sure to state that though Megan was sixteen when she wrote this book, her voice does not read like the average sixteen year old; it is wise, aware and most importantly, honest. You can tell Megan wrote each word from her heart and that’s what I love about the book the most. I felt like I was reading a letter from a friend. I lived her anxiety (especially on page 125 and 126) through her words.
Anyone who has traveled before will not have trouble connecting with this book. It’s full of experiences every traveler has encountered: that moment you realize you understand what is being said around you (chapter four), or that moment you bump into someone along a journey and rent their friendship, if only just for a moment, and you are able to talk with them for hours, fully aware you may never see them again (page 99).
These are my favorite passages from the book:
My year in France was a lot like rock climbing. The journey was long and slow and the footholds small and hard to find, but by late April the end was in sight, and in my mind I had begun the swift and exhilarating descent. Looking down from the top, I knew that my view of the world would be changed forever, and so would I.
“If this is really what you want, go for it. Take the risk. What you will gain in the end is far greater than what you may lose, short-term.”
But it was a beginning. I never consciously decided to stick it out. In fact, I fantasized a lot about running away. What happened, I think, is that I grew up much faster than I would have if I had stayed home. I understood that if I gave up and went home, my friends and family would forgive me and soon forget, but I would not forgive myself—and I would never forget. What I have now that I didn’t have before I left home is the belief that I can do anything I set my mind to do.
“Postcards from France” was everything I want “Hola, Morocha” to be: written in a vulnerable accessible voice speaking directly to the reader, a light, fun yet inspirational read, but most importantly—human.
Five out of five stars!