Books and Book Launches

Last night was the official book launch of Between Worlds.

My family was a tremendous source of help and affirmation as we moved into this event. And I was excited – to have people over, to serve Sangria and Proseco, crackers & fancy cheese, to have a summer party – and maybe to sell a few books on the side.

But two hours before the event I suddenly went into a panic. Who did I think I was? Why would anyone want to come? How could I have ever thought that I could do this thing – this writing of a book? Worse – how could I possibly believe that it was worth reading?

It was like riding a bike, my hair flying in the wind, so free, so excited – and then suddenly, I tripped over a curb and I lay there sprawled on the ground, bruised knees and ego, tears forming as unconcerned onlookers hid their laughter from this unfortunate little girl.

It was a monster of self-loathing rearing its ugly head and suddenly I was this little kid again, a little girl trying to Be Somebody. A 6-year-old at boarding school afraid of the Big Kids. A freshman in high school afraid of America. A 36-year-old mom thinking she could never, ever live well in this country called the ‘United States.’

These monsters of thought attack at our most vulnerable points and we’re left trying to fight them off with inadequate weapons.

It was too late to cancel – and we had some mighty good food, so good in fact that I couldn’t bear to let it go to waste.

Who should come to the rescue but someone I’ve never met who has encouraged me deeply these past couple of years. Because as I lay on the couch with my aching feet propped on Turkish pillows I opened my email to a message from someone who reads and has written for Communicating Across Boundaries – Jenni Gate of Nomad Trails and Tales. 

And she said this:

Hi Marilyn,

Just wanted to let you know I posted a review for you today. Here’s the permalink: 

With her email came a moment of grace and clarity. Okay – Between Worlds will never be a best seller and who cares? What matters is the connections that have happened because of this book. The reconnecting with old friends, the making of new ones, the holding fast to truth about living between worlds and communicating that truth beyond my immediate world.

So with that I moved forward and it was a great time! A time of talking and laughing, a time of meeting with others who know this journey, a time of introducing people to each other and having them recognize commonalities.

This is the best of living between worlds – being able to connect at deep levels in places that all of us sometimes struggle to call home.

Thanks for journeying with me! Here are a few pictures to take a look at and enjoy of the event. And a fun, 7 second video with my friend Heather.

How about you? Where do monsters of self-loathing attack? Maybe not at a book launch, but surely, as humans we all experience this in some form or other. What do you do when they attack? Who comes to your rescue? 

Book launch from Marilyn Gardner on Vimeo.

We Have a Winner!

Readers – I’m behind on almost everything these days including the book give away! 523 people entered the GoodReads Giveaway and 75 people entered the Communicating Across Boundaries Giveaway.

The two people who will receive books from the GoodReads giveaway are Andrea Ozment from the state of Tennessee and Jennifer Helinek from Pennsylvania.

The winner of the Communicating Across Boundaries book contest is Judy Daudt! Congratulations Judy!

I don’t know Judy but I know from her comment that she works with TCKs at a small university and she is a regular reader of Communicating Across Boundaries! Thanks to all of you who entered the contest.

Stay tuned for another giveaway later in the summer. 

For now – if you buy Between Worlds between now and August 9 all proceeds will go toward Syrian Refugees affected by the now 3-year old conflict. Here is what a recent Amazon reviewer says:

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

By K. Lloyd Warford on July 28, 2014

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

“My own experience and the circumstances of my childhood as a military dependent were very different from those of Marilyn Gardner’s childhood but the emotional journey she shares in “Between Worlds” is remarkably similar to my own. When Marilyn describes sipping tea with friends in a Chai shop in Pakistan her words capture perfectly the bittersweet feelings such memories hold for third culture kids and others who have lived abroad. I have never been to Pakistan or known the taste of chai but her story ignites my own journey back almost 40 years to sunny afternoons at a Bratwurst stand in Bitburg, Germany. I laughed out loud reading about how she fought off her nomadic urge to move by rearranging the furniture. She captured the confusion and fear one feels when leaving a place you know and love to go to a place where you don’t know a living soul and have never lived before; a place you have been taught to call “home.” She describes perfectly the frustration third culture kids experience when they feel the need to edit their life story to keep new friends from thinking they are bragging or being snobbish. I could go on but suffice it to say this book moved me and helped me better understand my own nomadic childhood and the role it still plays in who I am today.”


Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.47.35 PMSo: Buy Between Worlds. Between Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging  a set of essays on living between worlds today. The book is divided into 7 sections and each section is illustrated by my talented daughter – Annie Gardner. Home, Identity, Belonging, Airports, Grief & Loss, Culture Clash, and Goodbyes set the stage for the individual essays within each section. Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

If you live in the Boston area, I would love to have you come to a book launch on August 10. Contact me for more details at!

Lastly — the whole world has felt desperately sad lately and with that, it is difficult to know how to respond to the good in our lives, that which is not hard, that which needs to be celebrated. I am convinced that  joy and grief, tears and laughter can coexist without guilt but with thankfulness and clear recognition of grace. So this weekend my prayer is that insanity will be replaced by sanity, that grief will give way to joy, that laughter will be heard in your world.

A Quote and a GoodReads Giveaway

I talked about my favorite book the other day — the book Christy.  Several of you said you loved it as well. A reader, Christie, who has been living in Melbourne, Australia the last few years and has been going through the reentry process, said that she loved it so much she memorized the last 10 lines of the book. Today, because this week has held so much awful and evil on the worldwide stage, I’m leaving you my favorite quote from Christie.

“Evil is real – and powerful. It has to be fought, not explained away, not fled. And God is against evil all the way. So each of us has to decide where WE stand, how we’re going to live our lives. We can try to persuade ourselves that evil doesn’t exist; live for ourselves and wink at evil. We can say that it isn’t so bad after all, maybe even try to call it fun by clothing it in silks and velvets. We can compromise with it, keep quiet about it and say it’s none of our business. Or we can work on God’s side, listen for His orders on strategy against the evil, no matter how horrible it is, and know that He can transform it.”
― Catherine MarshallChristy

May you rest well this weekend.

ATTENTION:  Not only is there a giveaway on Communicating Across Boundaries – there is also a giveaway on GoodReads! Take a look and enter by clicking the link below.

FBetween Worlds Essays on culture and belonging by Marilyn Gardner

Between Worlds Essays on culture and belonging

by Marilyn Gardner

Giveaway ends July 27, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at GoodReads.

Enter to win

The Wonder of a Book

Boston is bathed in fog and rain. Sometimes it’s a light rain, other times it’s torrential and the humidity makes everything stick. Our bedroom door squeals in pain as it shuts and clothes and sheets are all damp. It reminds me a bit of monsoon rains growing up – except that the monsoon lasted for six to eight weeks.

And all I want to do is curl up with a book. Work feels so unnecessary in the summer. I have the second Harry Potter book by my bedside, the one where Dudley has turned into a fat teenager and Harry doesn’t make it to Platform 9 3/4. I promised my children that this year would be the year I read all of them. It’s an exciting goal.

Growing up my favorite book on ever earth was Christy by Catherine Marshall.

It was a thick, dog-eared paperback that sat on our bookshelf, just waiting for me to read it during my 3-month winter vacation from boarding school. On the cover a beautiful, smiling woman was on a hillside, her face to the sun – young and hopeful. Christy was the first book I read that could probably be considered ‘historical fiction.’ The story was based on the author, Catherine Marshall’s, mother, who left a wealthy southern family in Asheville, North Carolina to go to Appalachia and teach for a year in a one-room school house. Appalachia was an impoverished community with multiple problems miles away from Asheville in both distance and resources, The book chronicles her journey of learning to love a people and a place, understanding for the first time in her life what it meant to be privileged, how to respond to poverty, and most importantly – what it was to recognize and face evil.

Through the story of Christy I fell in love with the character, her students, and all of Appalachia. I lived out her story and every year I would re-read the book.

There was a lot of time to read during our winter vacations and daily you could see one or more of us in a spot in the house reading. Our imaginations could go from a Swiss mountain boarding school to a South African mansion; from a brownstone in Brooklyn to an imaginary land called Narnia; from the search for a treasure in a mountain by small people who loved parties to the ocean with some Bobbsey Twins. We traveled everywhere through Child Craft, Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and anything else we could get our hands and eyes on.

There is magic in a book.

And yesterday my very own book arrived – oh yes it did! It arrived in a large box around six in the evening. I saw it outside and ran to get it. The rest of the family were in their separate spaces and so I had this moment alone opening the box. Nothing prepared me for the feeling. The cover is so beautiful — I held it like I would a baby. And then I opened it and there it was. Words I had written, descriptions I crafted, thoughts and beliefs I have. In the big scheme of things this is so little, in the small scheme of things it feels so big and unexpected, such an incredible gift. 

And so today I am announcing a book giveaway. In the next week if you leave a comment here on the blog, send an email to, leave a comment on the Communicating Across Boundaries Facebook page, OR put a link to the book on your own Facebook page and tell others about it, then you will be eligible to win a copy of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. In a week’s time I will put all the names of those who have contacted me through any of the listed methods, and put them into a computer program that will shuffle them and spit out a winner! I am excited to give away one or two copies of the book. I will send them your way, complete with a discussion guide that you can use on your own or in a small group setting.

Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging is not a suspense thriller that will make you curl up until two in the morning, flashlight under your covers, reading as though your life (definitely the life of the character) depended on it. But my hope is that it will be a book you read and nod and think – “yeah, I’ve felt that. I’ve been there.”

I thank all of you from deep within my heart that you have read and encouraged me enough to have the courage to write. 

Now – Let the games begin!

Remember – there are 4 ways to do this:

  • Comment on the blog 
  • Send an email to
  • Leave a comment on the CAB Facebook page! 
  • Put a link for Between Worlds on your Facebook page!

Thank you so much for reading and encouraging through this process, for being a part of this journey! 

Between Worlds. Between Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging is a set of essays on living between. The book is divided into 7 sections and each section is illustrated by my talented daughter – Annie Gardner. Home, Identity, Belonging, Airports, Grief & Loss, Culture Clash, and Goodbyes set the stage for the individual essays within each section.

Share your favorite book and why in the comments! 

When You Realize You Can Love Two Places and Not be Disloyal

Statue and skyline of Boston

The view of Boston took my breath away. “This is such a pretty city!” I thought to myself. The sky was a perfect, clear, June-blue. The Boston Harbor was to the left of me and the ocean and buildings farther on were sparkling, sunlight reflected in remarkable ways off water and glass. The Zakim bridge with its tall obelisk in the center was directly in front of me as I drove into the city.

Boston is a small city and considered number 3 in the “Most walkable cities in the United States.” Millions of visitors come to Boston every year from all over the world. Despite the reputation for awful weather and sometimes rude and apathetic residents, Boston is beloved. When the 2013 Boston Marathon was bombed over a year ago, resulting in many injuries and three deaths, support poured in from all over the world. ‘Boston Strong’ t-shirts found their way to roadside kiosks in record time and the spirit of loyalty was strong in this city.

Hosting world-renowned educational institutions, sports teams, a rich history and with that, many historical sites to visit,Boston is an amazing city.

Only it has taken me awhile to realize it.

The view I described above was from the Tobin Bridge leading the traveler into Boston. I was returning from an out-of-town work trip and it was with a small breath of surprise that I realized that I love this city.

It’s taken a long time. When your heart is shaped by a place a world away, it’s hard to reshape it. The mold is broken and a new mold has to be created. But before your heart can be shaped in the new mold, it has to soften. And for a long time my heart was hard.

I couldn’t love this city. Because if I did it meant that I no longer loved the places I had come from, the places that shaped me since birth. Or I didn’t love them enough. My loyalty would be suspect. If I admitted that this city and the city of Cambridge were entering my blood stream, were becoming a significant part of my story, and with that a part of my identity, my identity would face a crisis. I had crafted my “I”m not from here!” identity and spoke it loud and clear in a crisp, non New England accent. I feared that if I changed the narrative, then the places that shaped me would fade too far in the background, a mere memory in photo albums.

What I forgot is that the human capacity to love, to loyalty is incredible. It is not being disloyal to love two places at once. It’s healthy to know you can use the amazing skill sets of adaptability and cultural competency to feel at ease in bargaining in a crowded bazaar full of color and spice and at ease hopping on a city subway and heading to a downtown store.

If someone handed me tickets tomorrow that put me on my way to Istanbul or Cairo with an invitation to make my home there, I would be over the moon. But I would also miss many things about where I currently live, and who I love within that space. And that is a good thing. For as my heart has softened it has also expanded and includes not only people, places, and memories from miles away, but also those from the next town over, from down the block of my street. I now have recent history to look to and memories from 2 years ago instead of 10. And this recent history is as valuable as the past.

It comes back to the gift of living between worlds, a gift made more precious as you realize the places you are privileged to live, invited to love. 

Between WorldsThese are some of the themes I explore in the newly released book Between Worlds. Between Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging is a set of essays on living between. The book is divided into 7 sections and each section is illustrated by my talented daughter – Annie Gardner. Home, Identity, Belonging, Airports, Grief & Loss, Culture Clash, and Goodbyes set the stage for the individual essays within each section. Those who read my blog will see some familiar themes and stories emerge, but they will be in book form, with new material, tweaked and edited to fit with the themes. And think about a book? It is so satisfying to have pages that you can underline and mark, highlight and turn down corners. Ah that feel of a book in your hand! Later this week I will be doing a book giveaway, for now order your copy and I will send you the accompanying discussion guide that offers questions you can answer either as an individual or within a group setting. 

The book happened because of you – because you read, commented, emailed, affirmed, and encouraged. So thank you for your part in the book that is now Between Worlds, Essays on Culture and Belonging!

So let me ask you this – how have you learned to love two places? Has it been a journey that has at times been marked by feelings of disloyalty or fear that if you learn to love the place you currently live you will lose a piece of your identity?


Stacy brings us rhubarb muffins today! Being someone who loves rhubarb I was so glad to get this recipe. Head over to Stacy’s blog to see Fresh Rhubarb Muffins.

The book is available on Amazon for pre-order and I would love to have you order it and hear your thoughts about living between worlds! 

Release of Between Worlds – Essays on Culture and Belonging

Between Worlds is available NOW! Order your copy by going here!

I began writing three years ago – “I want to have a voice!” I said to my oldest daughter, 26 years old at the time. And on July 1st the “voice” will be transformed into a book titled Between Worlds – Essays on Culture and Belonging. 

And I am excited. Really excited. And I am scared and I feel like achild who thinks she’s mastered the art of tying her shoes only to realize that one loop doesn’t make a bow” (author unknown)

And yes – I will be honest: I want people to buy it! Of course I do – it would be crazy for me not to. Though my identity is wrapped up in something far greater and stronger than the temporary tissue paper of public opinion and selling books, I want people to read and be able to say “Yes! that’s me!” or “Yes! That was my experience!”

So just as you have joined me thus far in reading, commenting, and encouraging both me and each other, I hope you will join me on this new book launch. There will be a give away next week of two books so stay tuned for that! In the mean time here is what some others have said about this set of essays:

Between Worlds


“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 connecting – and healing – worlds.~Cathy Romeo, co-author, Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses


“Drawn from her honest, penetrating blog writings, Marilyn Gardner’s Between Worlds invites us into her memories with loving hospitality, connecting the various and vivid threads of her fascinating life without over-sentimentalization. She is a wise raconteur, knowing that memories are living, formative things. Her richly evocative descriptions of the places that have formed her engage every sense (and will likely leave one a bit thirsty for chai), and the book is delightfully adorned with her daughter’s pen drawings. Throughout her essays, Marilyn presses in on the questions with which every human soul wrestles, particularly our God-given desire to belong, and to live securely and coherently with oneself and others.

In a world that has grown ever more globally connected, her recollections engage us all to think through how “God uses place” — and, at times, acute feelings of displacement — to make us into the people we are. Adult third culture kids will find in Marilyn a compassionate, empathetic friend, and anyone who has lived “between worlds” will appreciate her gentle approach to the more disorienting facets of a globally nomadic lifestyle.”

Laura Merzig Fabrycky, The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture


Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging available NOW! 

Read reviews of Between Worlds here: 

Purchase here:

Readers – thank you! It really belongs to you – and I would love for you to walk with me through this whole “book launch!