Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey

This sequel to Marilyn Gardner’s Between Worlds probes deeply into the journey that forms a third culture kid’s identity. Gardner weaves together memories of joy and pain, close friendships and loneliness in a compelling portrait of an international childhood. From the close quarters of boarding school, to the strangeness of furloughs in her parents’ native Massachusetts, Worlds Apart is an honest and moving portrayal of a young girl’s struggles with faith, friendship, and belonging. The book offers an inspiring model for other third culture kids seeking to make sense of their unique experience, and the final chapter brings together many practical resources to help TCKs navigate their own journey.

“This is a book that shows the complications of a challenging childhood, the healing power of a faithful life, and the precious gifts Third Culture Kids are to the world.”  Rachel Pieh Jones, from the Foreword

“Part spiritual reflection, part childhood reminiscence and part travelogue, Marilyn’s book will be especially welcomed by those trying to make sense of their own personal stories, especially if they involve transitions across multiple cultures and geographic locations.”  Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, author of The Dust of Kandahar and Some Far and Distant Place

Worlds Apart incorporates material previously published by Doorlight Publications under the title Passages Through Pakistan.

Released March 3rd, 2018

My memories of these early years are sometimes clouded, other times as vivid as the bright colors painted onto Pakistani trucks and buses. When I first arrived in Karachi the country was still young, born only thirteen years earlier in 1947. In 1954 when my parents first arrived, Pakistan was raw with fresh memories of the violence and struggle of a difficult and precarious independence. Yet during my childhood, I would only partially grasp the challenging history of this country. My world was safe, cocooned by my parents’ love and a sheltering community. I belonged. Pakistan was home. Anything outside of Pakistan was ‘other.’ I would not form memories of my country of birth and citizenship until much later.

Praise for Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey

Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey tells the captivating story of Marilyn Gardner’s childhood as a ‘third-culture kid’, raised by her Christian, American missionary parents in the heart of Pakistan. Gardner’s eloquent story of the trials, tribulations, and lessons of growing up as a bridge between these rich cultures serves as an important lens through which Americans and Pakistanis can learn more about one another and their important long-term partnership in a time when the gap between the two nations seems to be growing ever larger. By shedding light on how our faiths, our cultures, and our worlds are far more alike than different, Gardner’s story is a must read for those wanting to build bridges.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington, DC

Between Worlds – Essays on Culture & Belonging

“In the hall of an old Inn by the ocean is a sign that reads ‘Home is Where Our Story Begins.’ But if home is where our story begins, what happens when we can’t go back?”

Marilyn Gardner was raised in Pakistan and went on to raise her own five children in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to small town New England. Between Worlds will resonate with those who have lived outside of their passport country, as well as those who have not. These essays explore the rootlessness and grief as well as the unexpected moments of humor and joy that are a part of living between two worlds. Between Worlds charts a journey between the cultures of East and West, the comfort of being surrounded by loved ones and familiar places, and the loneliness of not belonging.

“Every one of us has been at some point between two worlds, be they faith and loss of faith, joy and sorrow, birth and death. Between Worlds is a luminous guide for connecting—and healing—worlds.” – Cathy Romeo, co-author, Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses


Between Worlds – Essays on Culture and Belonging

“To read this remarkable collection of essays is to journey with Marilyn Gardner between the worlds of East and West, home and not-feeling-like-home, touching with her the boundaries of culture, the inspirations of faith, and the comforts of loved ones.  Her stories are compelling and unforgettable.   And while her essays will instantly resonate with those, like Marilyn, who have lived between worlds, they speak volumes to those like me who have not.  Every one of us has been at some point between two worlds, be they faith and loss of faith, joy and sorrow, birth and death.  Between Worlds is a luminous guide for healing—and connecting—worlds.”

Cathy Romeo, co-authorEnded Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses

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30 essays by 30 different women.

“Relentless Pursuit” by Marilyn Gardner – Page 85

“As a girl growing up in Pakistan I knew I was loved and valued, my place in the family portrait secure and privileged, a place of honor. The only girl in a family of four boys, I challenged the statistical geniuses who warned my mother that it was “unusual to have a girl after so many boys!” and was emotionally spoiled from my first breath. Even at the most awkward of stages, I lived in a world of princess privilege……But the world that surrounded me presented a different picture.”

The question of our worth lies at the root of so many things that hold us back in shame, fear, or doubt. This book is a brave ‘I’ll go first,’ inspiring all who read it to take important steps forward into freedom.” — Kristen Howerton, Professor of Psychology, Vanguard University and author of