If we all could do what Margaret Bensfield Sullivan does, maybe the world would seem a little lighter at the end of the day. In a book best described referentially as Eat Pray Love meets Following Ezra, Sullivan immediately proves herself an immensely empathetic, effective storyteller and communicator of navigating parenthood during decidedly uncertain times. With the simple but effectively titled Following the Sun, subtitled Tales (and Fails) from a Year Around the World With Our Kids, Sullivan documents her doing the unthinkable:

URL: https://www.margaretbensfieldsullivan.com/

Essentially dropping her job, pulling her kids from school, and along with her husband travelling the world for one year. The first thing one would think is, What a beautiful thing. The idea is romantic, fascinating, and in the decidedly plainspoken, concise prose Sullivan writes in, decidedly transportive. The book keeps you turning the page not just as a member of its target audience, but simultaneously because of its obvious escapist qualities.

Delving deeper, though, what Sullivan touches on through the recounting of the literality of her experience is something truly altruistic. Familial connectivity, more than ever, is becoming a thing of the past. Parents are growing increasingly alienated from their children, with the constant influx of information perhaps threatening to overwhelm. Sullivan touches on how her family’s unique ability to facilitate this experience brought them closer together. It allowed them to exist in the present time, right here, right now. What a rare thing when you think about most family units you know. The fact she’s able to highlight that, with all the decidedly fortuitous set pieces, is why I highly recommend the book. You’ll enjoy it for its escapist qualities, but will come away with certain tenets and life lessons that can be applied universally.

“If you’re pondering your own radical departure, so to speak, I invite you to treat this book as something of a reference, and in doing so, find helpful answers. In the likelier case you’re an armchair adventurer with no immediate plans to put your life in storage and board a plane, that works too. Enjoy our travels vicariously, no passport needed,” Sullivan writes, regarding aforementioned school of thought. She highlights several rhetorical questions that began to flow once she and her husband decided to embark on this odyssey. Simply put, in Sullivan’s own words, What will this be like? Then, Can we actually pull it off? And finally: Are we making a huge mistake?

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Following-Sun-Tales-Fails-Around/dp/B0CPRTSK42

Sullivan also writes, “What were our favorite cities and best meals? How about the details of our daily life—managing laundry, for instance, or dealing with sickness? Several people went deep: How had we managed to stay present? What enduring yet intangible lessons had we returned with? How had we changed? A few were even roused to plan their own big adventures one day and looked for specific guidance on matters like homeschooling and mobile phone plans and how we’d dealt with mail and our bills. Almost everyone, it seemed, asked how the hell we had stayed sane with our kids around all the time.”

Garth Thomas