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Dalton-Bradford, "Global Mom: A Memoir" (reviewed by Gabi Kupitz) Options · View
Posted: Sunday, July 07, 2013 4:25:12 PM

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Title: Global Mom : A Memoir (Advanced Uncorrected Copy)
Author: Melissa Dalton-Bradford
Publisher: Familius
Genre: Memoir
Year Published: 2013
Number of Pages: 294, [5]
ISBN: 978-1-938301-34-6
Price: $17.95

Reviewed by Gabi Kupitz for the Association for Mormon Letters

Melissa Dalton-Bradford is beautiful and oh, so accomplished. She “is a writer, independent scholar, world citizen, and mother. She holds a BA in German and an MA in Comparative Literature, both from Brigham Young University. She speaks, reads, and writes fluent German, French, and Norwegian, is conversant in Mandarin, and has taught language, humanities, and writing on the university level. Bradford has performed professionally as a soprano soloist and actress in the United States, Scandinavia, Central Europe, and South East Asia. She and her husband have built their family in Vienna, Hong Kong, the New York City area, Oslo, Paris, Munich, Singapore, and Geneva.” All of this information is in the blurb on the back cover. I haven’t even cracked this book. Am I envious or just plain numb?

I crack the cover a bit cautiously and voila! Just as I suspected! Half of the titles on the contents page sport words foreign to me. But oh, what an adventure! On page one, Bradford patiently observes her crew of stymied French moving men try to figure out how to get a “ten-foot long, three-foot wide, four-inch thick Norwegian table" up and into “an upper floor of a corner building.” The family has just moved from a Norwegian island to this “part of Paris called the rive gauche which refers to the left (or south) bank of the Seine which was once fishable water. But today? Today the catch we’ve pulled out of a moving truck isn’t fish but pine, and a whale of a piece at that.” With that, I was drawn into this book.

Bradford has a unique writing style. It is at once arm’s-length, yet personable—worldly, yet earthy. The big new words are really not all that big—just put together in unexpected ways with hardly a cliche to be found. The humor is self-deprecating; the pain—beyond compare. I found myself laughing out loud (I read this out loud) and sobbing out loud, as well. Because I love to read out loud, I found myself wondering if describing children as “toe-headed” was really meant to be “tow-headed”; if the “vile of the vaccine…” is really a “vial”? No matter.

The author’s ability to play with words is a gift. For example, she writes of having to take phone calls in languages she is/was uncomfortable in speaking and so describes herself as “a gerbil trapped in the bottom of a spinning barrel…” and, “I did survive the language gulag…” (The person I read this to loved these descriptions--“gerbil” and “gulag” being two favorite words). I enjoyed Bradford’s descriptions of language mishaps; of caving in to a meal at McDonalds “or, as the French call it, Mac Do” rather than chance a family meltdown at a Rouen (“incorrectly pronounced by foreigners as ‘ruin’. And it’s not quite like ‘rain’ either, although some foreigners, trying for a good accent, miss the linguistic target with a nasal, ‘rain.’ Neither ‘ruin’ nor ‘rain’ are correct for Rouen”) eatery.

Bradford describes family life around the globe in astonishing turbo detail—no glassy-eye-stare-forever-long detail. As in any great story, there is a bit (okay, a lot) of drama. And, much of that drama is heart-felt and soul-searing. To read this memoir is to gain an instant friend—a family of unique individuals with whom the reader can, at least in part, relate. Living by a chateau, or even in one, does not guarantee lasting happiness, but it does offer perspective—a perspective I just couldn't put down—and still can’t.

Some lines just bear mulling over--on being a perfectionist from a French friend: “’Melissa, sometimes you place the bar too high. Take it down. Lay it on the floor for a little while;” on expecting the world to speak English, from a French bus driver to a frustrated and rude tourist: “’Madame. You have climbed on my bus. This is a French bus, a bus in Paris, France. I am a Frenchman. From Paris, the city with the marvelous Eiffel Tower you have flown very far, I imagine, to see. In Paris, in France, on my bus, we speak French…’”; from a letter written by Randall Bradford, Melissa’s husband, to friends and work colleagues: “It has been and continues to be such an honor to be the father of a son like Parker. With deep gratitude to all of you, Randall Bradford”; on a global home: “…no matter where I might find myself, home, quietly yet quite remarkably, always seems to find me.”

Global Mom is global because of her husband’s career. A graduate of the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management, Randall James Bradford is a human resources specialist with a global firm. In describing their global LDS church involvement, Melissa Dalton-Bradford recounts how “Randall bought a Vespa” in France. “With it, he could whip out to Versailles to pick up Parker late at night when weekly scripture study classes called ‘seminary’ were moved from Paris to the Mormon chapel there. And the two also sliced through the common knots of Parisian traffic to visit and help young families and widows from our church congregation.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris is a mini UN. In Norway, “church was a small but hearty Mormon congregation in a place called Sandvika.” Perhaps, the most beautiful account of human stretching and heavenly love is set in the Portneuf Medical Center in Idaho. Yes, Idaho. USA.

Global job, global church, Global Mom.

Read the book! Read the blog (http://melissadaltonbradford.wordpress.com)!
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