Running Away to Home by Jennifer Wilson
Travel writer, Jennifer Wilson, becomes intrigued by her family history when she is left personal papers after her great-aunt’s death and realizes she doesn’t really know her family’s story. She and her husband long for a simpler life since the American Dream has left them tired and their finances have taken a beating.
There are some great moments as Jennifer scouts out Mrkopalj, Croatia, her great-grandparents’ birthplace, initially without her husband Jim, who is an architect. By the time she returns home Jim is ready to pack his bags no matter what the conditions, so Jennifer, her husband, and their two small children head to Croatia for a year.
Right from the start it proves to be quite an adventure, from their living arrangements not being ready to the cultural differences. Jennifer is used to being the woman who can do anything; however when she’s trying to do research she has to enlist the help of others and there is definitely a language barrier. She takes us through the story of her adjustment to a culture so different from her Midwest background.
Her family partakes in the village life, which includes many potatoes, sausages, and an abundance of alcohol. But they are also a true community working together in things both big and small; from a baby’s baptism where they are treated like family, to the Croatian Independence Day. There are so many heart-touching moments in the book, such as when they find a tile in the ruins of Jennifer’s great-grandmother’s birthplace, or when she bakes peach cobbler for the ladies of the village and receives many gifts in return.
In Running Away to Home, I was able to relate to the need to understand your family’s history and as I followed Jennifer and her family on their journey, I knew they had an unforgettable experience.