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Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home
Susan Pohlman
October 1, 2009 (scheduled release date)
Guidepost Books
272 pages
Nonfiction, Memoir

The true story of a California couple on the brink of separation who unexpectedly find love again on the Italian Riviera. Tired, empty, and disillusioned with married life, Susan Pohlman was ready to call it quits. As soon as she and her husband, Tim, wrap up a business trip in Italy, she planned to break the news that she wanted to end their eighteen-year marriage. During their last day as they walked along the Italian Riviera, Tim fantasizes aloud that, perhaps, they could live there. Susan initially dismisses the notion as nonsense but is inexplicably overwhelmed with a desire to give the marriage another try. Defying all logic, the couple find a school for their children and sign a lease for an apartment. Maybe a life in such a charmed setting could help them find their way back to each other. Together with their fourteen-year-old daughter Katie and their eleven-year-old son Matt, they trade in their breakneck Los Angeles pace for adventure and a slower, more intimate lifestyle slipping out of the constraints of the traditional American Dream into a dream of their own. Instead of seeing each other for fleeting moments in the mornings and evenings, the family starts to spend their days together rediscovering the simple joys that bring texture and meaning to all our lives. Travel with them as they stumble upon new customs, explore medieval alleyways, browse street markets, befriend neighbors, learn to cook, and try a new language. Halfway to Each Other is the remarkable story of an ordinary American family that inspires and offers hope that all of us who find the courage to listen to our hearts and follow our dreams can experience a new beginning.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Halfway to Each Other.  I like memoirs, so I was good there.  And I loved Italy when I visited 13 years ago (hard to believe it’s been that long – I was only twelve at the time), so I figured I was good there too.  I assumed I’d enjoy the book, but I wasn’t really expecting anything too amazing. Well… I was wrong on one hand.  I did enjoy the book; however, it was MUCH better than I was assuming/hoping it would be.

From the first page, I cared about this marriage, this family, and wanted them to find happiness and family togetherness in Italy.  I desperately wanted Susan and Tim to find a way to make their marriage work.  I enjoyed reading about this family, and throughout the book I kept thinking about how much they really did love each other, even when they were fighting or having issues I just kept thinking that I KNEW they’d make it through.

What I love about Halfway to Each Other is its ability to keep me laughing and on the verge of tears in alternating sections throughout the book.  So many of the Pohlmans’ adventures were hysterically funny – I mean, they were staying in this little village in Italy, with NO knowledge of the Italian language, with no family or friends to speak of.  And precious few of the people they met and the friends they made spoke some English.  So you can just imagine the awkward/hilarious situations they got themselves into!  Alternately, the book had so many heartfelt moments that nearly brought me to tears.  Like when Susan realized there were some things she absolutely HAD to rely on her husband for, instead of thinking she could do everything on her own.  Or when Katie fell in love for the first time (and subsequently had her heart broken) while in Italy.  Or when, after years of fighting and not getting along, Katie and Matt realized the importance of each other as siblings and started to get along and become friends.

Halfway to Each Other is one of the best memoirs I’ve read lately.  Both funny and touching all at once, it is the perfect feel-good read that really made me appreciate all the people in my family I take for granted every day – my husband, my parents, my siblings, and my niece.  I’m just grateful it didn’t take ME moving to Italy for a year to realize the importance of all the amazing people in MY life.

Highly recommended!