13 Years in America is a story of hope, sacrifice, and the modern search for happiness that is at once a moving personal journey and a sharp, hard look at the American Dream.
After moving to the United States from Canada, a free-spirited young woman rejects the status quo and embarks on a journey to discover what it means to be truly happy and fulfilled in the Land of Opportunity.
Her 13-year search spans half a dozen states, a bunch of fearless adventures, and ever-increasing crises, divisions, turmoil, and discontent. Through it all, she holds on to her fearless pursuit of happiness and fulfillment against ever-decreasing odds.
“The road of twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.
Yet our lessons come from the journey not the destination.” Don Williams Jr.
The story is simple in its delivery, no smoke and mirrors, honesty even if it does not flatter the inherent or acquired essences of the main characters. The thought of hope is alive and well despite all the challenges encountered directly or indirectly along the way leading to a feeling that beyond the pages it will be eternally-bound.
Melanie, in my eyes was a very complicated character to figure out. At times I was amazed by her maturity, free-spirit, and perceptions. Other times she came across as very naive, short sighted and somewhat selfish. The couples financial savvy was non-existent minus the savings bond which was very responsible. Melanie and Scott both had their moments of immaturity, but over time and all the missteps along the way they progressed into a highly-functional family unit. The great relief was watching her evolution and finding her dominant voice during her foray as a teacher and in doing so becoming more of a well rounded woman. She may have decided to go down a different path after teaching, but she showed me something and made me alter my outlook for the remainder of the novel. Scott was pure gold in understanding and accepting his parental role, swallowing his pride in a time when “bread” winners were at work and not at home baking it as well. His ability to withhold his feelings towards his own job regrets from Melanie is truly admirable. His strategy for keeping management off his back when he was a loss prevention officer made him a truly likable and affable character.
One glaring thought that I have to mention is how it is a love story in every sense of the word, yet their is no mention of copulation and very little mention of physical displays of affection. Sure there was a lot of drinking going on, and we all know what that is a prelude to, but not for one second did I doubt the strength of their love for one another. This is a very subtle tactic that I found very profound and from a man’s perspective somewhat reassuring. I suppose it has a lot to do with the fiction vs non-fiction discrepancy.
This book gave me the feeling that in some cases everything you could possibly dream of happens to reside in your very own backyard. You believe Melanie aspired to live a dream life that she thought could only be possessed down south in the land of intangible hope. Once realizing that that was not the case, the home she remembered, and now wanted was never the same again. If you use your heart as your compass your dream will come wherever you end up, but you must be a willing listener and embrace what comes.
A little side note before I let you go. When I first cracked the binding on this book to start reading I had my trusty notebook where I jot down some reminders for when I write the review. Well, my pen went dry and I grabbed myself a new one. This pen was in a holder with about fifty random pens that I have stolen/salvaged on my travels and it was the only earth friendly eco-pen I had. Lo and behold, upon completing the book and learning of the varying messages between the lines I am certain it must have been some sort of coincidental-providence that blindly guided my hand to this pen. Weird, or What.