REVIEW: All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter
Most travel memoirs involve a button-nosed protagonist nursing a broken heart who, rather than tearfully watching The Princess Bride while eating an entire 5-gallon vat of ice cream directly out of the container (like a normal person), instead decides to travel the world, inevitably falling for some chiseled stranger with bulging pectoral muscles and a disdain for wearing clothing above the waist.
This is not that kind of book.
Geraldine met the love of her life long before this story began, on a bus in Seattle surrounded by drunk college kids. She gets lost constantly, wherever she goes. And her nose would never, ever be considered “button-like.”
Hilarious, irreverent and heartfelt, All Over the Place chronicles the five-year period that kicked off when Geraldine got laid off from a job she loved and took off to travel the world. Those years taught her a great number of things, though the ability to read a map was not one of them. She has only a vague idea of where Russia is, but she understands her Russian father now better than ever before. She learned that at least half of what she thought was her mother’s functional insanity was actually an equally incurable condition called “being Italian.” She learned about unemployment and brain tumors and lost luggage and lost opportunities and just getting lost, in countless terminals and cabs and hotel lobbies across the globe. And she learned what it’s like to travel the world with someone you already know and love. How that person can help you make sense of things, and can, by some sort of alchemy, make foreign cities and far-off places feel like home.
In All Over the Place, Geraldine imparts the insight she gained while being far from home—wry, surprising, but always sincere, advice about marriage, family, health, and happiness that come from getting lost and finding the unexpected.
Dear Ms. DeRuiter,
Well this is a fun welcome to your blog and style of living by which I mean thoughtful insights and the hilarious ways you present them. I share with you the ability to get lost, even with a map, even with directions, even after someone has told me “I can’t miss it.” Believe me, I will miss it. Planning and order and a lack of spontaneity are as much a part of me as my brown eyes. It’s taken me far longer to realize that missing what you planned and discovering what you didn’t can be fun and freeing, that roses are to be smelled and enjoyed, that the moments we don’t plan for or worry over are sometimes the best and remembered even decades later. The journey, including ones where you don’t know where the hell you are, can be fantastic. I agree that sometimes it is best not to know what you’re up against. So a travel blog? Maybe it’s more a traveler’s blog. One that we with no sense of direction can get into. And no, peyote was not involved in me saying this.
I do worry that many of your stories and anecdotes are – as you yourself say – crap-obsessed. Or urine centered as at the tapas bar in Spain. Honestly, I agree that taking that wine glass was totally justified. Now the brain tumor section, that sucked some real life too.
We read romance novels here – a lot of them. So the sections of finding your soulmate were adorable. The parts where you struggle with real life and real life romance are stuff that often doesn’t make it into our HEA world but hey, this is how it really is, messy and painful as that can be. The story of your mother having a steel pickax in her purse while trying to board a post 9/11 plane had me in stitches though I feel from the way you described him that your husband might have suffered permanent mental trauma from the event. The hand grenade she brought to Easter was like a cherry on a sundae. Oh, oh – macarons! I adore them, having been introduced by a friend of mine who regularly travels to France and who sussed out the best local version of them that she swears are pretty darn close to the real thing without having to go toe to toe with the sadistic employees of Air France. I must practice – “Je voudrais des macarons, s’il vous plait.” Should we insert beaucoup into that sentence? I think so.
All in all, this was tons of fun to read maybe with the exception of the low flow toilet story. Life isn’t what you expect so snuggle with the love of your life should you find yours, smile at the Air France people just to disconcert them, chow down on cake and enjoy what comes next. B