Made for You and Me by Caitlin Shetterly came to me via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I read it during the recent Readathon.
About the Book:
Shortly after their marriage in 2008, Caitlin Shetterly and Dan Davis packed up their life and drove from Maine and family connections to the promise of Los Angeles. Both freelancers, they were confident in their ability to make it out west. But when the recession hit a few months into their new life, the jobs dried up. On top of that, Caitlin gave birth to their son, Matthew, the happy result of an unexpected pregnancy. With no money and no means of support, Caitlin and Dan finally decided to move back to Maine. They packed up the car and began the long trip home, determined to carve out a life for themselves there.
From the start of their first road trip, Caitlin sent email updates to friends and family. As the popularity of these missives grew, Caitlin started a blog, which grew into a series of audio diaries for NPR. As word got out about this young family struggling to find the American dream in the midst of a crumpling economy, support in myriad forms began pouring in, turning a single family’s journey into a kind of symbol of the American experience.
When I first received Made for You and Me through LibraryThing, I was a little worried. I expected it to be (a) sappily patriotic, (b) whiny, or (c) cheesy. It turned out to be a nice balance, blending personal experience with a reflection on America. There are certainly people who had (and have) it worse than Caitlin and Dan, which Caitlin acknowledges. Yet I think their story rings true because there is so much in it to which many people can relate.
Made for You and Me is, first and foremost, a memoir, one person’s experience of a certain point in her life and in American history. It’s not a how-to book; Shetterly isn’t giving advice to others in similar positions. She’s also not trying to compare her situation to those of others in any sort of mine-is-worse-than-yours sort of way. Rather, she is sharing her family’s story, with its good decisions and its not-so-good ones, its ups and downs as they, personally, experienced them. Caitlin’s writing is honest and engaging. There’s plenty of emotion in her story, but to me it never felt overdone. She welcomes the reader into her family’s life without holding back.
I liked reading Caitlin’s story. I appreciated her honesty and never felt like she was seeking sympathy or writing just to complain. She shares her frustrations and reflects on the family’s journey, but always in a way that moves her forward, always seeking the positive in a genuine way. I’ll admit, the book turned out far better than I’d expected, and I’m certainly glad I read it.
Those are my thoughts. Check out Made for You and Me by Caitlin Shetterly on GoodReads or LibraryThing. Or, take a look at the extras on Shetterly’s website, which include videos, interviews, and articles.