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Book review: Home Keeps Moving

When Heidi Sand-Hart was 21, she got her hands on the TCK Bible: “Third Culture Kids – The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds.” After devouring it, she became even hungrier for personal literature out there for TCKs. She soon realized that there wasn’t much at all, so she decided to write her own, which is called “Home Keeps Moving.”

“Home Keeps Moving” is a collection of memories that Sand-Hart gathers from her cross-cultural life, moving from Derby to Norway to Sussex to London to India. As I read the book, being pulled into someone else’s description of feeling between worlds, I enjoyed tagging along on someone else’s global journey. Compared to Pollock and Van Reken’s book, “Home Keeps Moving” is a much more personal, lengthy description of the actual experience of having a home that is anywhere and everywhere.

With most personal memoirs though, inevitably you can feel like a tag-along to the story itself. On rare occasions, you are brought into the narrator’s seat. While I enjoyed the book, what I really loved was reading Sand-Hard’s article in the The Telegraph – an eloquent explanation of the gypsy-like TCK life.

I particularly enjoyed this mosaic-like paragraph: “Deep down inside, we all know it will be the things we failed to do that will haunt us on our deathbeds and I intend to go with a smile on my face, thinking of the sun rising over the Himalayas, drinking tea with the Bedouins of Jordan, snorkeling in the Perhentian Islands, riding camels in the Sahara desert, seeing lightning storms over Mount Bromo in Indonesia, the invigoration of leaping from a boiling sauna into a freezing cold lake, walking The Great Wall of China and riding off from my wedding on an elephant’s back into the Kerala night.”

Mosaic is the key word. Sand-Hart’s book reminded me that while most TCKs can huddle under the same umbrella term, we are still incredibly diverse. I started to wonder whether or not the cultural branches that unite us as TCKs are much more amorphous than what what we read in the Wikipedia definition of “TCK,” or in Pollock and Van Reken’s book.

While reading the Sand-Hart’s book, I expected that because she was also a TCK, I would automatically be able to relate to, and feel close to, her personal experience – when, in actuality, I felt incredibly distant from the narrator nearly the entire way through.

Perhaps that is because, more than a TCK life, Sand-Hart has led a missionary kid (MK) life. She also chose to be home-schooled at 16, and those factors alone make her story quite different to my own. However, parts of the narration did keep me at a distance.

For example, I was intrigued by her parents’ decision to put her mentally handicapped brother, Samuel, into government care. But instead of exploring the emotional ramifications of the experience, Sand-Hart skimmed over the topic.

I emailed Sand-Hart and asked her why she didn’t elaborate on these topics more thoroughly in the book.

“I didn’t make a conscious decision to not divulge on my feelings at that time but I suppose on the second count, Samuel went into government when I was 5 years old and I couldn’t tell you what my feelings were at the time,” she wrote. “I didn’t want to invent things that weren’t there and for those fragmented moments of my childhood where my memory failed to conjure up emotions (of which there are many), I felt it best to stay factual.”

Sometimes the act of writing can be more therapeutic than the finished product itself. The fact that Sand-Hart had sat down and written the book inspired me. I am sure MKs will be able to related to her incredible journey. What I related to, and admired in Sand-Hart, was her willingness to transcribe her cross-cultural experiences so that we could share in them.

“Don’t hide your TCKness: don’t hide your light under a bushel,” Sand-Hart wrote to me in an email. “We all celebrate our colorful and unique upbringings and don’t run from them. Yes, we have faced difficulties that many 60-year-olds haven’t yet faced, but we have the potential turn those difficulties into strengths.”

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