With her children off to college and her job no longer necessary, Sandra, middle-aged mother of two, finds new meaning in her life at a Tijuana community center.
Sandra has never considered herself unhappy. With a pleasant marriage, two grown sons and a satisfying career in school administration, she’s content. However, when her sons leave for school and her job offers her the chance to take a temporary sabbatical, Sandra finds herself wondering if there isn’t more she could be doing. Her explorations take her from walking day tours to volunteering to read to underprivileged children in her home city of San Diego, to venturing across the border to work with a community center in Tijuana, helping impoverished children and their families. Her family supports her new interest, although they worry for her as well. After all, the book opens with a storm that leaves Sandra trapped in a mudslide, her husband and sons scrambling to find her.
Between this opening scene and the resolution, the book recounts Sandra’s decision to take the sabbatical, and then charts her exploration of new directions. Her journey is an authentic one brought to life by constant questioning by Sandra and others. For Sandra, the decisions aren’t easy: Eventually, her job wants her back, her husband can’t understand her need to work in Mexico, and her best friend can’t sympathize. Sandra’s fears also hold her back, but her love for children continues to push her forward. As part of her well-documented transformation, Sandra’s work affects her worldview. Her community on the border of San Diego and Tijuana has numerous concerns about immigration, yet it sometimes feels as though Sandra alone worries for the immigrants and protests the maltreatment of nonwhites. She finds prejudice in her family and even in herself, but she simply pushes harder to care more and more about those she can help. At times, the dialogue can be stilted and unrealistic, yet the characters, particularly Sandra, are well-drawn and relatable.
Insightful and inspiring.