Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review: All Over the Map, by Laura Fraser

I have always had the travel bug. Before college, I had gone to Japan, Europe, Canada, and plenty of areas in the United States, thanks to my parents. I even thought about becoming a flight attendant until I decided that I’d probably see more of the inside of a plane and airports than exotic locales. But I also had another dream: to become a mother. And I knew that, unless I had the financial resources and beauty of Angelina Jolie (which I didn’t), that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill both of my dreams to the extent that I wished -- at least not at the same time. The opportunity came up to get married, and I figured there was more of a time clock on giving birth, so I chose motherhood and a traditional career. Of course, I’m not sorry I made this choice. I adore my children and know how blessed I am to be a mother of four. And yet, some days, I wonder how my life would have turned out if I’d put marriage and motherhood on hold and indulged my passion to see the world. There’s still time to do that, of course, when I’m a little freer from child-rearing responsibilities, but it won’t be the same as if I had started traveling in my twenties.

This is the dilemma that faces Laura Fraser in her memoir, All Over the Map. She had the same dreams that I had, but she took the other path and became an award-winning journalist. She has traveled all over the world, to amazing and exciting (and sometimes dangerous) places, and written articles about her experiences. My dream job! And yet, now in her forties (like me), she wonders if she made the right choice. She’s had many romantic experiences and relationships, but still hasn’t found “the one” (if such a concept exists). Her fertility clock is grinding to a halt, although adoption could still be an option if she acts quickly. Laura loves her life, and yet she sometimes finds herself yearning for stability and love. When she visits with friends who chose a more traditional route, she wonders, “What did I miss?”

I loved All Over the Map because it so beautifully highlights the choices we all make, especially women. During a time when we’re told we can have it all, most women are finding that, no, we really can’t. Of course, it depends on what you want your “all” to be. Some women do feel that they’ve achieved that feeling. But for those of us whose dreams are big enough or different enough to conflict, there’s always that nagging question, “Did I make the right choice?” We wonder what life would have been like if we had chosen the other path.

In All Over the Map, Laura Fraser writes with passion and honesty about her insecurities, doubts, and joys. She is confident and yet vulnerable. She makes good choices, but plenty of mistakes. In short, she’s human and, just like most of us, her self-examination often leads her thoughts and actions in unpredictable directions. If you’re a woman for whom “What if?” has been a constant mantra in your life, you’ll want to read All Over the Map.

Laura Fraser’s website:

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crown Publishing’s Read It Forward program. No compensation was provided.


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