Time Out New York Review
From issue dated May 22-29, 2003
Early in her amusing and unpredictable memoir, Wendy Dale recounts how she was forced into premature adulthood by her flighty mother's careless approach to childrearing. A "somber, bookish, responsible teenager," the author worked her way through UCLA, then took a dull job writing copy for Hughes Aircraft. But when her impulsive parents sell their belongings and move to Honduras, Dale wonders if she'll someday "regret that [she] had traded happiness for stability."
And so she sets off on a series of unorthodox vacations. In Beirut, Dale discovers the pleasures of hookahs and hummus. In Havana, she has a fling with Alberto, learns salsa and swigs rum for breakfast. "Every time I showed up at a travel agency, I was buying myself another ticket to irresponsibility," she writes, before acknowledging the temporary nature of her escapes. "No matter what happened to me in a foreign country, it was all over when I got on the departing flight."
All that changes in Costa Rica, where she falls crashingly in love with Francisco, a handsome Colombian imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit. Dales moves to Costa Rica, frees Francisco from prison and flees with him to Colombia, where they attempt to establish a life together.
With grace, charm and abundant humor, Dale narrates her meandering story of a childhood regained, "a chance to make rash decisions, to take wild risks, to lose everything knowing I'd still have plenty of time to earn it all back."
– Joanna Smith Rakoff