A neurotic American father of three relocates his family to Hong Kong for one year.
Hanstedt (General Education Essentials: A Guide for College Faculty, 2012), an English professor and editor of the Roanoke Review, is no stranger to international travel, having visited 30 countries on four continents. But living in Asia on a Fulbright exchange program for 12 months became a challenge of epic proportions for him, his wife, Ellen, and their three kids, 9-year-old Will, 6-year-old Lucy and 3-year-old Jamie, whose bright, distinctive personalities are on full display. Though their first few days abroad were marred with the death of Ellen’s father, the family trudged on with wide-eyed excitement at the cross-cultural opportunity unfolding before them. From navigating the subway system to procuring palatable food for picky kids in Kowloon restaurants, the culture clash began immediately. The author excitedly dictates stories of rocky junk rides, pedestrian dangers and space issues inside their temporary home, situated 20 minutes from China’s border, and he balances the inconveniences with pages of familial history and beautifully described scenery. When Will got bullied, Hanstedt drew on his own painful moments of tortured life at school; in the final pages, he tenderly reflects on Jamie’s incremental growth while in China from a baby to a vibrant toddler.
Through text that reads like dynamic blog material and flows with the hyperactive flare of an anxious father of three, the narrative moves along seamlessly with enthusiasm, parental trepidation and a healthy dose of sardonic humor.