Have Mother, Will Travel
Have Mother, Will Travel, by Claire and Mia Fontaine. William Morrow, 304 pp. $24.99
Claire and Mia Fontaine have lost contact with each other. After writing their previous bestselling memoir, Come Back, Mia, 25, moved to New York City and her mother, Claire, spontaneously left her LA screenwriting career in favor of a dilapidated home in Florida.
Before, and even while writing Come Back, Claire and Mia had come to terms with their relationship. Mia had moved forward from her days of drug use and general rebellion, and Claire had come to grips with the fact that she had, as a last resort, sent her daughter to a “boot camp” in the Czech Republic. Their relationship was better than ever.
But aside, from their combined speaking engagements and frequent phone conversations, Claire and Mia had become disconnected. That is, until Claire, excited, called Mia up one day to ask her daughter to go on a 24-day Global Scavenger Hunt, a fundraiser for charity through sponsorship that Claire read in the travel section of USA Today.
And, after quitting her job and subletting her apartment, Mia goes. For the rest of the summer, the mother-daughter duo eat, sleep and meet strangers from every part of the world. And, alongside earning “points” from completing various “scavenges”–activities focused on guiding the pairs through the cultures they’re visiting–both Claire and Mia learn how other societies of the world view motherhood and daughter-hood.
The story is written in the first person, from each woman. One voice is in italics, the other is in regular type. Each is strikingly honest. I haven’t read Come back, but after reading this book, I understand enough about that story to get a sense of Mia. And, after reading this one, I want to go back and read the first.
Both Claire and Mia immerse the reader into their experiences. When they ponder, we ponder. When they cry, we cry. And when they laugh, we laugh. In order to tour the pyramids in Cairo, the women must ride on either a camel or a horse. Mia chooses the horse, and Claire opts for the more cultural option:
Every trot and clop sends me shooting straight up in the air … then slamming back down. My arms flap and flail as I try to reach for the horns. “Hey up there!” I try to yelp but it comes out like “hay-ya-yaayy yug-uh-pp-pp ththth–he-el-el-p-p!” and all the clattering drowns me out anyway. Suddenly a bolt of inspiration, yoga, and irony strikes–Camel pose! I grab the horn behind me with both hands and pelvic-tilt my read up–yes! Ohhhh, relief, relief!
Have Mother, Will Travel is a must-read for every woman (or man, for that matter). It’s charming and enlightening, and will help any reader in their own understanding of this world and the relationships that it contains.