Tuesday, December 16, 2014

[Book Review] Six Months Off by Lamar Alexander


Marilyn reviews SIX MONTHS OFF: AN AMERICAN FAMILY’S AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE by Lamar Alexander (Morrow, 1988)
How does a father and former governor of Tennessee reconnect with his family, who had been living in a governor's mansion which occasionally has tourists roaming through it? The solution: take time off.
While he was governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, father of four children, had drifted away from his family’s lives. Now, with the end of his second term in sight, he noticed at the dinner table that three of his children had their chairs slightly turned toward their mother. From this setting begins Alexander’s idea of taking six months off, chronicled in his book, Six Months off: An American Family’s Australian Adventure.
"It just came up one night at supper. I remember that the sun was still hot through the big windows, even though it was six o’clock so it must have been midsummer, and it must have been 1985.

We were sitting at our places around the breakfast-room in the Mansion. I was at the head. Honey commanded the other end, guarding the only exit to the television set. The children sat two on each side..."

The family conversation turned from the children not eating their food to getting away for six months in a foreign country; one of several countries named was Australia.
The idea intrigued Lamar and his wife, Honey. Both agreed they needed a rest and started making plans. They found out that other families were thinking of doing the same thing. Lamar and Honey also wanted to take time away to transition from a governor’s family to a normal family.
According to Alexander, the landscape of Australia is a contrast of breathtaking wildernesses to modern coastal cities. With most of the population living near the seacoast, he reveals that some Australians rarely visit the interior of their country. But the book is more than a tour of Australia; it’s about a family getting to know one another, a father involving himself in his children’s lives, and Lamar Alexander’s observations of the similarities and differences between Australians and Americans.

Six Months Off is a humorous book that had this reviewer chuckling throughout the pages.
Marilyn, Central Library

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