This is a list of books I am compiling of TCK and Expat memoirs. I am not rating them or endorsing them except I have added some notes on the ones I have read. I have commented on a few in my blog Books.
Please tell me about others!
Third Culture Kids, Growing Up Among Worlds by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken
This is not a memoir but a must read for anybody who grew up in countries other than their passport country or who have children growing up internationally.
Expat Alien, My Global Adventures by Kathleen Gamble
This is Kathleen’s journey through the ups and downs of growing up among cultures and living as an adult between cultures. She survived a plane crash, a coup d’etat in Burma, earthquakes in Mexico, driving through the Andes in Colombia and army ants in Nigeria. When she goes to college she experiences “reverse culture shock” and her peers see her as an alien who has landed in their dorm. She continues to travel and spends 9 years living in Russia during the great changes of the ’90s. Having to leave Russia on very short notice she finds herself back in the USA feeling like a refugee.
For The Souls and Soils of India by Helen C Maybury
Helen, the author, is a missionary kid who grew up in India. Her mother wrote letters home often and Helen has put these letters together in a book. It is an interesting account of daily life as missionaries in India at the turn of the century. Helen provides some additional comments throughout the book and I wish there was more written from her perspective.
Home Keeps Moving by Heidi Sand-Hart
This is a wonderful, easy to read account of life as a Third Culture Kid who, due to her missionary parents, travels constantly between the UK and India. It is one of those books, as a TCK, I love to see. It touches on issues a TCK can relate to…confused loyalty, the search for identity, re-entry, friendships. Yet it is not overwhelming or sad. It is upbeat and engaging. Heidi, the author, includes contributions from other TCK’s providing an additional layer and perspective. If you are a TCK or interested in learning about TCK’s, this is a book for you.
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
A Danish woman moves to Africa to marry and ends up running a coffee plantation for many years. It is full of heart breaking challenges and great adventure.
Potato In A Rice Bowl by Peggy Keener
A military wife from the midwestern USA finds herself moving to Japan. She meets the strangeness and unique challenges of adjusting to a new culture with lots of humor and tongue-in-cheek.
The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
Elspeth Huxley moves to Kenya at the turn of the century when she is six years old. It is a great story about her adventures growing up in the bush of Africa.
Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global edited by Faith Eidse, Nina Sichel
This is an anthology of memoirs from Isabel Allende, Marie Arana, Pat Conroy, Carlos Fuentes, Pico Iyer, Tara Bahrampour, Ruth Van Recken, Ariel Dorfman, and more.
Expat Life Slice by Slice by Apple Gidley
Apple Gidley’s book, Expat Life Slice by Slice, is an engaging story of expatriate life. Apple grew up in Africa and Asia and continued her married adult life wandering the globe adjusting from one posting to the next. She addresses the painful challenges of nomadic life as well as the excitement and joy of discovering new places.
Fly Away Home by Maggie Myklebust (see link to review)
Maggie Myklebust’s book, Fly Away Home, reads like a fairy tale. There are no giants or pirates or six handed men but there is love, adventure, confusion, hope, disappointment, challenge, sorrow, contentment and finally joy. All the elements of a good story. It is a real page turner.
Voluntary Nomads: A Mother’s Memories of Foreign Service Family Life byNancy Pogue LaTurner
Voluntary Nomads is about a US Foreign Service family adjusting from one post to the next. It is a highly personal account written by the mother of a family of four and includes funny, sad, interesting, and anxious anecdotes about their travels and the inevitable challenges of bringing up children in far away places.
West With the Night by Beryl Markham
Beryl moved to East Africa as a young child and lived there most of her life. As a young woman she took up flying as a bush pilot and ended up being the first woman to fly solo from east to west across the Atlantic. This is an account of her life. An excellent read.
Overseas American: Growing Up Gringo in the Tropics by Gene H. Bell-Villada
An American boy grows up in Latin America and struggles with identity problems. His parents divorce and he is sent to boarding school in Cuba and then goes to live with his father and step mother in Venezuela.
Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing by Ruth Ellen van Reken
Ruth is sent to missionary boarding school in Nigeria at a very young age and misses her family very much. She spends a long time struggling with her faith and coming to terms with her situation. She writes letters to her mother as part of the healing process.
Hidden Immigrants: Legacies of Growing Up Abroad by Linda Bell
Linda Bell interviews 13 people who have grown up globally. If you are a TCK you will be able to identify with much of this book. I read it years ago and want to re-read it.
Farangi Girl by Ashley Dartnell
Ashley Dartnell grew up in Iran under the Shah with an American mother and a British father. This family has problem after problem and eventually the regime ends and then things get even worse.
At Home Abroad: An American Girl in Africa by Nancy Henderson-James The daughter of American missionaries growing up in Angola in the 50’s.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood byAlexandra Fuller Alexandra grows up in South Africa during the turbulent 70’s and 80’s moving between Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia.
Sons of the Great Satan byAnthony H. Roberts. This is fiction based on the author’s experiences while living in Iran during the fall of the Shah.
Strangers At Home: Essays on the Effects of Living Overseas and Coming “Home” to a Strange Land by Carolyn D. Smith
The Absentee American: Repatriates’ Perspectives on America and Its Place in the Contemporary World by Carolyn D. Smith
An Englishwoman in India: The Memoirs of Harriet Tytler 1828-1858 Edited by Anthony Sattin (see link to review)
Here We Are and There We Go: Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow by Jill Dobbe (see link to review)
Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life by Elaine Neil Orr An American missionary girl growing up in Nigeria
May This Be the Best Year of Your Life: A Memoir by Sandra Bornstein An American couple moves from Colorado to India
Trailing: A Memoir by Kristin Louise Duncombe A TCK marries and follows husband to Africa (see link to review)
The Sullivan Saga, Memoires of an Overseas Childhood by M.H. Sullivan (see link to review)
Lenin Lives Next Door, Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow by Jennifer Eremeeva (see link to review)
Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott (see link to review)