Thursday, May 26, 2011

Heather reviews Made For You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home by Caitlin Shetterly

Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding HomeTitle/Author: Made For You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home by Caitlin Shetterly 
Publisher/Date Published: March 2011, Voice
How I Got This Book: received as a review copy from NetGalley
Why I Read This Book:
I'm a sucker for a good memoir or travelogue (this was both!)
4 stars

Brief summary (from Goodreads):
Newlywed Caitlin Shetterly and her husband, Dan Davis, two hardworking freelancers, began their lives together in 2008 by pursuing a lifelong, shared dream of leaving Maine and going West. At first, California was the land of plenty. Quickly, though, the recession landed, and a surprise pregnancy that was also surprisingly rough made Caitlin too sick to work. By December, every job Dan had lined up had been canceled, and though he pounded the pavement, from shop to shop and from bar to bar, he could not find any work at all.
By March 2009, every cent of the couple's savings had been spent.
So, a year after they'd set out with big plans, Caitlin and Dan packed up again, this time with a baby on board, to make their way home to move in with Caitlin's mother. As they drove, Caitlin blogged about their situation and created audio diaries for NPR's Weekend Edition and received an astounding response. From all across the country, listeners offered help, opening their hearts and their homes.
And when the young family arrived back in rural Maine and squeezed into Caitlin's mother's small saltbox house, Caitlin learned that the bonds of family run deeper than any tug to roam, and that, with love, she and Dan could hold their dreams in sight, wherever they were.

My thoughts:
Caitlin Shetterly's Made For You and Me was a breath of fresh air for me. Everything about their struggle to survive as a family during the current recession is so relatable because we are all still living it today. For Caitlin and her husband, Dan, they have had a particularly hard time as freelancers in such uncertain times. This memoir follows the couple as they embark on a journey across America (twice) and learn just how important family is along the way.

Before I begin gushing, let me explain to you all that this book resounded with me more so because my boyfriend and I did the same thing that this couple did. Last summer, I quit my job and we moved across the country from New England to California for a change of scenery. Luckily in our case, my boyfriend was able to continue working his same job so we still had his income. It was difficult and exhausting looking for a job when I arrived here. The connections I had always seemed to fall through and even though I was getting called for interview after interview, I would find out I'd made it to the final few candidates, only to lose out to one of the others. I also passed up on a couple of opportunities along the way because I was holding out for that "perfect" job. It took me 5 months before I realized I needed to hunker down and take anything I could get and that's where I am now, almost a year later.

I've read reviews about this book from others who criticize Caitlin and Dan for not trying hard enough but I think it's pretty easy to say that when you aren't in that situation. It takes a lot to give up your home and move everything you own clear across the country to a foreign place, and I think their story is a great one to read about. In Made For You and Me, we follow them on their journey to LA and then back to Maine about a year later. Along the way, they gain a family member and lose another. There are so many emotional moments in this book and I really enjoyed Caitlin's style of writing. There's such an inspirational message about perseverance and family values. There were many moments where I thought if I was in her shoes, I would have had a complete meltdown or flipped out at Dan, but the two of them always pushed past their differences.

I loved the parallels she drew between her life and that of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House series so much, I'm actually planning to reread them myself. Also, the way she wrote so fondly about motherhood had me all teary eyed and excited about having children of my own someday. Her outlook on family is so bright, despite their imperfections. This memoir came about from Caitlin's blog which I definitely plan to read through since I still felt a sense of wanting more at the end. I'm hoping her blog will pick up where this memoir left off. I highly recommend this if you enjoy well written, emotional memoirs or books about traveling.

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