Have Mother Will Travel, a book review
There are many travel memoirs that take you on a journey through a new place, but they usually also take you through person’s own self discovery while on the journey. You see their ups and downs, travel snafus, reconnection with relatives, or even a bet won. In Have Mother, Will Travel, the reader is introduced to Claire and Mia Fontaine, a mother and daughter who have been to hell and back before they even took the journey they write about in this book. In fact they have a whole other book, Come Back, that chronicles the experience Mia and Claire went through as Mia fought addiction after being abused as a child, and Claire did everything in her power, even sending her daughter to a Czech recovery camp, to save Mia from herself.
After such an intense recount, it seemed like there would be nothing left to say, but happily there was 10 years after the first book, which is where this mother daughter team’s 2nd book picks up. Their story is split into two parts. The first half takes place on a scavenger hunt across the globe. Claire dives into the mother daughter relationships and communication she sees in the cultures she explores, giving a rich background for what is to come when Claire and Mia rent a studio apartment in Avignon, a vibrant historical city in the south of France.
The purpose of this journey started off with Claire’s need to reevaluate where her life was headed; she needed to find her joy. Mia wasn’t sure her life was what she wanted it to be, and wasn’t sure she even knew who her mother was anymore after their time together writing Come Back. They needed to step back and get to know each other again.
Travel does that. As Claire writes, it lets you shed all of your layers and just focus on yourself and your immediate surroundings. You don’t have all your “stuff” with you. No job, no house, no social circle to keep up with. Claire knew this and asked Mia along for the ride, a ride Mia apparently needed to take just as much as her mother.
The real meat of the book comes into play once the women are in Avignon. This is also where I started to look at my own life and myself as a mother. I have no drug abuse stories to relate to Mia, but all daughters see their mother a certain way, and as Claire writes, many mothers see their daughters as three people- the person she is, the person she used to be, and the person you want her to be.
I watched as Claire and Mia dove into their relationship, and I saw aspects of my own relationship with my mother in theirs. And then I saw how as a mother of boys, I will never have that mother daughter bond that so many of my friends will have with their girls. If I’m honest with myself this made me a little sad. I adore my boys, but I have seen enough healthy mother son relationships to know that it is nothing like that of a girl with her mom. We need our moms. We always will, no matter the past or what the future holds. Reading through the laughter, tears, and self-discovery Mia and Claire both encountered was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.
This book does get a little heavy and wordy at times, diving into an issue far more than I needed to go, but overall, I loved where these two women ended up. It also isn’t easy to write a book together, but these two did it flawlessly, weaving Mia’s thoughts written in italics with Claire picking up with her own reminiscing. I was never confused or annoyed by the switch back and forth. By the time Claire was done recounting a moment of insight she had I really wanted to know what Mia thought or how she had interpreted her mother’s experience.
Two things I wish were different about my reading:
- I wish I had read Come Back first. I think a few things mentioned would have been clearer. The authors do a fabulous job of trying to recap their histories, but I always felt like I would have had a deeper understanding of these two women and why they reacted the way they did to different parts of their journey if I knew more about where they had been.
- The epilogue mentions that Mia is headed to China. Why? That is never made clear. And yes, it is now driving me insane not knowing so I will be doing a little Internet stalking on their Facebook page I’m sure.
As a daughter I enjoyed this read, but any mother with a daughter should definitely grab it. Claire was able to look at her relationship with her own mother, as well as her relationship with Mia, bringing a greater clarity to the kind of mother she herself wanted to be. Having those two bookends made for a rich self-analysis that I think other mothers of girls could relate more heavily with.
This post is part of the TLC Book Tours is a service providing online virtual book tours to authors. I was provided a copy of Have Mother, Will Travel by TLC for review purposes. As always my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.
walking on travels: keep traveling, keep moving forward;
take your kids walking on life’s path to adventure