Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives Forever by John Marshall (Book Review)

Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book-

For readers of Three Cups of Tea; Eat, Pray, Love; and Wild comes the inspiring story of an ordinary American family that embarks on an extraordinary journey. Wide-Open World follows the Marshall family as they volunteer their way around the globe, living in a monkey sanctuary in Costa Rica, teaching English in rural Thailand, and caring for orphans in India. There's a name for this kind of endeavor - €”voluntourism - and it might just be the future of travel.
Oppressive heat, grueling bus rides, backbreaking work, and one vicious spider monkey . . . Best family vacation ever!

John Marshall needed a change. His twenty-year marriage was falling apart, his seventeen-year-old son was about to leave home, and his fourteen-year-old daughter was lost in cyberspace. Desperate to get out of a rut and reconnect with his family, John dreamed of a trip around the world, a chance to leave behind, if only just for a while, routines and responsibilities. He didn'€™t have the money for resorts or luxury tours, but he did have an idea that would make traveling the globe more affordable and more meaningful than he'd ever imagined: The family would volunteer their time and energy to others in far-flung locales.
Wide-Open World is the inspiring true story of the six months that changed the Marshall family forever. Once theyĆ¢€™d made the pivotal decision to go, John and his wife, Traca, quit their jobs, pulled their kids out of school, and embarked on a journey that would take them far off the beaten path, and far out of their comfort zones.
Here is the totally engaging, bluntly honest chronicle of the Marshalls'€™ life-altering adventure from Central America to East Asia. It was no fairy tale. The trip offered little rest, Even less relaxation, and virtually no certainty of what was to come. But it did give the Marshalls something far more valuable: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conquer personal fears, strengthen family bonds, and find their true selves by helping those in need. In the end, as John discovered, he and his family did not change the world. It was the world that changed them.
My thoughts-
I have always had a desire to both travel and to help other people. As a teen I dreamed of being a missionary, taking care of orphaned children in Romania, joining the Peace Corps. I never had the courage to do any of them. Don't get me wrong, I do what I can from my home, but I think the desire to help in other corners of the world will always be there and maybe some day I will get to explore that a little, but for now I was delighted to live vicariously through the Marshall clean while reading Wide-Open World. Their time of service around the world led them to interesting places and showed them how there is a need for help (in so many varied ways) pretty much everywhere around the globe. The book takes us through their journey as they live and volunteer at an animal sanctuary where they became close with some primates, they worked at an orphanage in India (I suspect this was the hardest place for them to leave, having forged close relationships with many of the children), they taught English in Thailand and visited and served in so many other places. They learned things about themselves as a family and things about themselves as individuals and were changed forever because of it. It was fascinating to me to take a peek into the lives of people in different parts of the world, how things operated differently in each place. Not only did this trip give the Marshalls the opportunity to do good, it would set the course for where each of  their lives would go upon their return home...but I will let you read the book to find out just what that was! I absolutely recommend this book to anyone at all, I think we can all learn from this type of memoir, but I particularly recommend it to people who want to good, who love to travel, who enjoy adventure and who enjoy reading non-fiction. This is the type of book that I hope will become a movie someday. I would love to see the Marshalls' adventures come to life on the big screen!
Wide-Open World will be available on February 10. You can pre-order it on

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