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The shock/ horror of this decision on Savannah as a 14 year old was painful to read especially because of the enormous potential damage to her emerging personality. Her reactions to packing up her home, giving away her beloved dog and adjusting to the fact that she was being dragged away from everything familiar are very emotionally disturbing. Savannah succeeded because she was probably more mature than most girls at that age. In the book she reflected "After everything that (my mother's) done for me, maybe it isn't too much to ask that I might sacrifice a year of my life for her!" To me this is a scary statement by an adolescent.
At every opportunity during their travels Savannah tries to keep in contact with her old friends via the internet but as the days go by they seem to be slipping further and further away. In an email she tells her best girl-friend "I've got boobs!! Wish you were here to see them!"
What was lacking to me in this book? The second half was mainly a travelogue and didn't follow up on Savannah's personal development and reaction to the travel that were prominent in the first part. Also the book really has no ending - all that is clear is that there are many months, if not years of travel ahead.
Any serious reader of this book should visit the Sihpromatum website to see more about the family's travels to 98 countries in 5 continents. It is a great shame to me that they never made it to my home country, Australia - but there's always time. The great thing about the website is that you can see Savannah as a teenage "ugly duckling" when she went to China and know that she has now grown into a lovely, mature and "graceful" swan.
A copy of this book was given to me with a request for an honest review.