Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My take on: Traveling Light

I've watched dozens of episodes of Hoarders, and with each one I wondered how people got to that point. How can a person be so attached to stuff? So much so that it can destroy their family? Of course, I'm one to talk I own more than 500 books!! But I don't need an organizer or 1-800-GOT-JUNK trunk to sort it. I promise. The reason I'm saying this is because I recently finished Traveling Light by Andrea Thalasinos. Hoarding plays a central role in the book, and that was a huge selling point for me. All I saw was the word "hoarding," and I was sold.

Paula Makaikis feels stuck. She has a great job as the director of the Center for Immigrant Studies at NYU. But lately it's been hard to focus on work. All she can think about is the huge problem she has at home. Her husband Roger is good at hiding things. Most people see him as a successful scientist. But only Paula knows the real Roger and the secrets he's hiding. Everyday Paula returns home she is confronted with a mountain of boxes, furniture, books, and magazines. She didn't start this mess, but she wishes she could end it. The house belongs to Roger. She should have seen the signs when they were dating. They always went out. They always went to her apartment. That's not weird is it? Paula found a way to rationalize things even after they got married. After two failed marriages, Roger was the first to make her feel special. Besides he will clear out the house someday right? As soon as Roger gets on a good sleep schedule, Paula won't have to sleep on the couch anymore. One day they will be like other married couples. One day Paula won't have to hide the truth from her family and friends.

But a chance encounter offers Paula a chance to come out of hiding.

Paula's best friend Celeste, who is a social worker, needs her help translating for a dying Greek man. He tells her of his beloved dog Fotis, who was taken away from him. Paula has never given thought to adopting a pet. Where would she put it? Roger certainly wouldn't like it. Roger is allergic pets and to change. But change is just what Paula needs. Fotis is coming into her life at just the right time. Paula finally takes a break from her marriage and career, and hits the open road with Fotis. What was supposed to be a trip to visit her former college advisor turns into something more for Paula. While at a rest stop in Minnesota, Paula sees a help-wanted sign for a wildlife clinic. Of course she gets the job, embarking on a new phase in her life.

It was a wonderful read. Whether you have a hoarder in your life or not, I'm certain people can see themselves in Paula. Her problems were no different from the average person. Adopting Fotis was Paula's therapy. If Fotis didn't come into her life, would Paula have had the strength to change her life? Why continue to deny her own happiness just for Roger's sake? She has a right to be happy, healthy, and comfortable. Overall, it was engaging story with quirky, emotional, and funny characters.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from Authors on the Web as part of a blog tour.

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