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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Out and Back: Essays on a Family in Motion by Elizabeth Templeman is a memoir that was a perfect read for me. As a father of four and a man who has been on the road all too often, the message of this book resonated strongly with me. Readers are served twelve personal and intimate essays that explore the life of a family, featuring different characters, their unique traits, and the recurrent question: what makes life enjoyable for this family, and what keeps them bonded together despite their differences? Out and Back takes readers on a rollicking ride, starting in a canoe with a husband, wife, and an unexpected event. The author presents stories from her family life and features characters that readers will want to follow in a style that is not only captivating but humorous. At the heart of these essays is the message that there is no perfect family but that we can always make spaces where family members feel connected, growing and evolving into their better selves.
The writing is insightful and filled with wisdom, and Elizabeth Templeman makes it abundantly clear that it is not always the destination that matters when we set out on a journey. The journey itself is a mystery that reveals us to ourselves and provides gems we live with even after we have arrived at the destination: “We tend to consider travel in terms of destination. That's the focus when we plan, budget, and dream. But travel is both: the being there and the getting there.” The adventures in Out and Back will pull readers in; those moments that unveil the characters' hearts, exploring fear and hope through experiences that thrust them into situations like sleeping in a van or packing into a tent or a hotel room. At times hilarious, at times evocative of the realistic portrait of a human family, and at times so captivatingly human that readers find themselves taking an enviable spot within this family. The prose is gorgeous, the situations realistic, and the characters simply lovely. Family, love, parenting, adventure, and meaning are themes that are brilliantly written. You will laugh and think as you read these essays. The author’s gift for narrative is immersive, and she provides nuggets of wisdom and vital insights about life as she takes readers from one exciting page to the next fascinating one.