Halfway to Each Other
By Susan Pohlman
Guideposts, September 2009
Preorder Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Halfway-Each-Other-Brought-Family/dp/0824947800
Susan and Tim Pohlman are living the American Dream in LA. It’s the dream life Susan always wanted, but behind the closed doors of the Pohlman home, things are far from perfect. Susan is disillusioned, unhappy, and secretly plotting her divorce. She plans to tell Tim after they wrap up a business trip to Italy.
Having a free day in Italy with no business to conduct, Tim suggests they spend it together. Although reluctant, Susan agrees. Surprisingly, the day is idyllic. When Tim confesses to hating his job and makes the crazy suggestion that they sell their home in LA and spend a year in the small town on the Italian Riviera in an effort to renew their love and marriage, Susan balks. She has a lot of painful emotions tied to her decision for divorce and can’t even imagine the reaction of their two children, fourteen-year-old Katie and eleven-year-old Matt. Yet the day had been wonderful and if there was even a small chance to save their marriage, shouldn’t she be willing to try?
Tim finds an apartment for them to view and after much soul searching and conversations with God, Susan tells Tim if the apartment is great, they’ll do it. But if the apartment is horrible, they’ll forget the whole idea. Tim agrees. Although lacking curb appeal, the place is large with a wall of windows and a balcony that looks onto the sea. Having made the agreement, Susan puts her faith in God for the first time in years and they sell the house, pack up the protesting kids and make the move.
I received this book and sighed. I laid it on the coffee table to remind me to read it, but I was reluctant. I’d read similar books over the years, both fiction and non-fiction. To be honest, I found them all a bit tiresome. Waking up to a stormy, torrential rain filled day, I picked the book up and decided to read the first few pages. I finished it later that evening. Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Ms. Pohlman tells her story with a fresh, unique voice and excellent writing.
This isn’t one of those, ‘lets move to Tuscany and live the simple life’ stories, even though that’s exactly what they do for a year. And although this sounds romantic, the family must adjust to a life so far removed from their previous one, they might as well be on a distant planet. None of them speak Italian and this alone causes many a hardship.
Halfway to Each Other is a story about creating lasting bonds—bonds of love, of family, and of friendship. And it’s a story of renewal—the renewal of love between a husband and wife, a renewal of family, and a renewal of faith. This is a true story and I found it very believable. These are not perfect fictionalized characters. They’re genuine, vulnerable, and charming. I don’t know if there’s a way to describe the Italian Riviera without romanticizing it. It is after all, beautiful and romantic. The author did a wonderful job with this. But what impressed me more was the way Ms. Pohlman did not romanticize the Italian people. They’re full of flaws, unadulterated, charismatic, and captivating.
I can’t begin to explain the variety of emotions I experienced while reading Ms. Pohlman’s first book. It’s full of subtle humor and I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud. At the other end of the emotional spectrum, this touching, heartwarming account brought me to tears. I truly enjoyed my time with the Pohlman family and I highly recommend this book to all. If there is a negative, it’s only that, far too quickly I came to that last page. I wanted more and when Susan Pohlman writes another book, whether fiction or non-fiction, I’ll be there to get my copy.