July 18, 2012

Connecting on a mother-daughter journey

By Claire Fontaine
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As a teenager, Mia Fontaine repeatedly ran away from home, abused drugs and fought fiercely with her mother, Claire. Desperate to save her daughter, Claire tried several kinds of therapies but eventually settled on a boot camp school in the Czech Republic, where Mia's isolation from the rest of the world forcefully drove both her and her mother toward fuller self-understanding and a new relationship. Hoping to offer guidance on the often fraught nature of the mother-daughter relationship, the Fontaines chronicled their harrowing moments in a best-selling book, Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey through Hell and Back.

In Have Mother, Will Travel, a frequently hilarious and often sobering follow-up to Come Back, mother and daughter set out on a very different kind of trip in search of themselves. Spying an ad in USA Today for a global scavenger hunt, Claire convinces Mia that embarking on such an adventure would be the perfect way to celebrate the success of their earlier book and to get to know each other again. Soon, the two set off on a 16-city, 12-country tour through China, Malaysia, Nepal, Egypt, Greece and the Balkans, encountering numerous challenges and misunderstandings as they try not only to navigate each culture but also to discover more about each other.

Told in alternating voices, this poignant and affecting memoir offers a glimpse of a mother trying to sort out her relationship with a responsible adult daughter while also trying to understand her strained relationship with her own mother. Mia's words offer a glimpse of a daughter sometimes struggling with what she feels are her mother's suffocating bonds, but also appreciating a chance to bond with her mom and learn as much from her as about her.

From Mia, Claire learns how to be a good daughter, finding an expression of unconditional love in Mia's accepting and nonjudgmental ways and consequently realizing that she must treat her own mother the same way. Mia embraces the knowledge that she and her mother will continue to connect on new and different levels as they go through life. In her final words of wisdom, Mia speaks for both of them by acknowledging that the mother-daughter relationship continues well past the time your mother passes on and continues to evolve and deepen; if you're lucky enough to have a daughter, she goes on and the relationship lives through her.

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Have Mother, Will Travel

Have Mother, Will Travel

By Claire Fontaine
ISBN 9780061688393

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