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Nick Hornby
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
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Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener
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Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters - Jennifer  Wilson Goodreads giveaway. The book is about the author's time spent in Croatia with her husband and two young children as she researched her ancestors and looked for remaining family. I was interested in this book because friends and I have talked about vacationing in Croatia. The author is a travel writer by trade and has traveled extensively so she was expecting this year long trip to run fairly smoothly.

Jennifer decides to take a two week trip ahead of her family to scope things out, get the lay of the land. Her first night: "I stuck it out at Hotel Jastreb for the night, its one lonely inhabitant. it was through sheer force of will that I didn't fixate on the notion that my situation was the perfect premise for a horror movie: Cuculic (head of tourism bureau)showing up with an angry mob of drunken bears, screaming 'You are three hours late' as he bludgeons me with both a hammer and a sickle. Okay, maybe I was fixated."

In spite of this less than auspicious beginning, the author does move her family to Croatia to the small mountain town her great-grandparents left 100 years before. It's a really sweet story about the author's search for details about her family, while at the same time creating friendships with the townspeople. Wilson doesn't idealize either the setting or how hard the transition was for everyone, including herself.

Words of wisdom from Wilson's husband Jim, "If it were easy, everyone would be doing exactly what they dreamed of." Grandma Kate's words of wisdom, "You might be poor, but you have no excuse to stink."

Well written, at times funny, other times poignant story about a woman's search for family. Great characters. I loved their landlord and friend Robert, serious neighbor Mario, and even Cuculic, who turns out to be more complicated than just a lazy bureaucratic worker. Impressive that Wilson was able to pursue this dream, moving her whole family (except the dog and cat, which I had a hard time with) from Iowa to Croatia. Bravo.