I was contacted a few months ago by the author Margot Page to see if I would like to read and review her new book Paradise Imperfect. Being a sucker for books that have Costa Rica as the subject matter I said yes. In turn Margot’s response was, “great, I would love to hear a man’s reaction to my memoir.”
Memoir, say what?
I am not a fan of memoirs in general, so I began reading the book with trepidation. Fortunately for me, Page pulled me in from page one. She did not pull me in with the somewhat clichéd story of the upper-middleclass, overextended, overachieving, needs a break from life, let’s move to Costa Rica family.
No, it was Page’s wit and writing style, her humor and the interesting way she phrased her phrases; along with the wit, honesty showed through in her writing and the reader is entrusted with a peek into the mindset of a working mother with too much on her mind.
The book starts with a snapshot of family life for the Pages in Seattle. Those many things that combine to make a busy life in the States: 2 working parents, 3 children of various ages, with each of their various activities to be scheduled and attended. Anthony and Margot Page were the epitome of the American family and they were tired.
Although relatively silent throughout the book, the author will even tell you so (over and over), Margot’s husband, Anthony, plays a large part. In fact, his character is the one I identified with the most throughout the book. I too am the relaxed, silent type and that drives MY wife crazy… sometimes. My quietness has also been at times, misaligned with apathy – which is never (hardly ever, at least) the case. So Anthony gets to provide a bit of comic relief throughout the book as his wife tries to figure out how to relax. I feel ya Anthony.
The decision is made to move to Costa Rica for a year; give the parents a break and give the kids an invaluable education by inserting them into a different culture. They make their way to Costa Rica finally landing Monteverde, their home for the next 12 months.
This is the part of the book where I really got sucked in. Meeting the family and learning about their life in Seattle, eh – it was OK. But learning about Monteverde and hearing the stories about the year spent there was really the part I was waiting for and the part that was most interesting to me. Not only the stories of the families’ experiences with Tico neighbors, and the stories of the kids adjusting to a new culture and a new school, but a bit of history about the Quakers who founded the region is included as well.
The book concludes with a back and forth of Should I Stay or Should I go? and ends with life lessons learned and a move back to the States.
Throughout the book I found many correlations to our move to Costa Rica, sin niños of course, and I think there are many out there who could identify with the life that lead to this 12-month experiment.
Paradise Imperfect is a clever book. Not clever in its story but clever in its telling which makes it a winner in my book.