Description from Goodreads: Have Mother, Will Travel (William Morrow) is an entertaining and inspiring mother-daughter memoir by Claire and Mia Fontaine. Set against the backdrop of an unforgettable round-the-world adventure, it movingly captures the changing relationship between a mid-life mother, Claire, and her twenty-something daughter, Mia, as it also looks at the mother-daughter relationship in other cultures, from Nepal to France.
The Fontaine’s 2006 memoir, Come Back, was a national bestseller and Target Book Club pick hailed by the New York Times as “a testament to the power of the love between a mother and a daughter.” Their story of Mia’s harrowing teenage drug addiction, and her mother’s attempts to save her, and their relationship, continues to inspire readers around the world.
Now, It’s ten years later and the pair find themselves in a stale relationship based on old roles, and at turning points in their individual lives. To redefine themselves and strengthen their bond, they embark on a five month, twelve country, twenty-two city global journey. It’s a trip that includes mishaps, mayhem, laughter, and unexpected joys; from a passport-eating elephant to a calamitous camel ride around the Pyramids, to finally making peace with their tumultuous past in the lavender fields of France. Seeing how mature and community-minded twenty-somethings are other countries broadens Mia’s perspective on adulthood, and Claire uses the trip to examine her broken relationship with her own mother, a Holocaust survivor.
Alternating between Claire and Mia’s compelling and distinct voices, Have Mother, Will Travel is an extraordinary journey that will allow women to see new possibilities in their own lives, and in their mother-daughter relationship.
I need to stay away from mother/daughter novels, memoirs, and other books that cover the same topic. They just never work out for me as enjoyable reads. And I do think it’s because my own personal experiences color and influence my perspective. I thought with this one that maybe I would be able to see it from Claire’s perspective and that it would perhaps open my mind and maybe see things differently, but no. You see, I have relationship problems of my own with my mother. I love her to death, but there are times when we just don’t get along because we are so alike, so different, and just so opinionated. I think I’m right, she thinks she’s right, and neither of us are willing to budge. When I was a child, I used to give in almost always, but now that I am an adult, I see things differently. Point is, I thought Have Mother, Will Travel might help me to become more level-headed and open-minded. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
This is not a bad book at all though. Just because it didn’t affect me the way I wanted it to doesn’t mean there weren’t parts of it that I didn’t enjoy. It was incredibly well-written (if a little bloated and repetitive at times–more on that later), and laugh-out-loud funny through a good portion of the book. I thought this would be more travel writing and less mother-daughter philosophical ramblings, and it wasn’t, but the parts that did focus on their travel experiences and culture clash were the best by far to me. Because I’ve always wanted to travel to some of these countries, it was awesome reading about them from yet another traveler perspective. I think I’ll skip out on visiting Nepal now, by the way. But I want to go to China and Malaysia more than I ever did. Me and Asian countries. Ha.
So why only three stars? Because of the lack of emotional connection mostly, and I did find myself getting bored and skipping through pages by the end. I was touched by Mia’s coming clean about her guilt and feelings, but other than that, much of the France section was a snoozefest for me. The first part was much more exciting, and I even went so far as to look up how to do this around-the-world travel thing they did. It’s 10,500 bucks per person. Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen for me right now. Or probably ever. If you can afford it, it sounds like a blast and an awesome way to raise money for charity, but for poor people like me, *sticks tongue out*.
I also felt the writing was a bit bloated. Repetitive. I know that during the majority of this trip, Mia and Claire were trying to work out their personal issues and see each other in a new way, and at first I loved reading about that. But then it got repetitive. And I felt that they were saying the same things over and over and never reaching any conclusions. It got to be kind of rambly and disjointed. I think maybe if I had read their first book, Come Back, I would have felt more for these women and cared more. But I didn’t. My friend Christina listened to the audiobook of this and loved it. She told me it is read in their own voices, and I think maybe that would have been better because there would have been more feeling behind the writing. I did think that Mia’s sections were less repetitive than Claire’s sections, and towards the end, my mind REALLY started to wander while reading Claire’s parts.
And gosh, I feel so bad writing this review. Especially because it’s a memoir and I know these are real people I am being critical of. I dreaded writing this review for that reason. And I feel bad for giving it 3 stars even, because mostly I think I liked it a lot less due to my own personal experiences. And I wonder if it is fair to rate a book based on that. But in this case, I don’t know how NOT to. Anyway, I am going to recommend this one even if it wasn’t the book I was hoping it would be. If this is a topic that interests you, I think it’s worth reading. There aren’t too many people like me out there, so hopefully I am by myself and alone on my feelings with this one.