Notes From The Bottom Of The World –
A Life In Chile
Author: Suzanne Adam
She Writes Press
“Notes From The Bottom Of The World – A Life In Chile” is a lovely 225 page book that in small sound bites (sixty-three short personal essays) gives the reader a front row seat in viewing living as an American expat in Chile. Suzanne Adam, a native Californian, graduated from U.C. Berkley, then served in the Peace Corp in Columbia. After returning to California, Adam met her future husband, Santiago, and followed him back to his home country of Chile. She has lived there for over forty years, marrying Santiago, raising two boys, and working as a teacher. Now retired, she has turned to writing as a pastime.
I am drawn to the short essays – little sound bites that I can read here and there during the day, smiling as Adam’s words trigger memories within myself. Adam writes with depth and caring – a caring for the people in her world, and for the world at large. She is an avid reader, and sprinkles references to books throughout her stories.
Her story in this book begins with her American roots, and her fiftieth high school reunion – something that was a recent event for me too (only I chose not to go). She talks about how she found out about the reunion, classmates that have died, her decision to attend, and reconnecting with classmates. These are all things that as readers we can relate to, so at the very beginning of the book we are forming a bond with the author.
Adam moves easily into her memories – of moving to Chile, of her sons, of her father (and the things that she did with him), and of her mother (with whom she did not have a close relationship). She talks about her love for California, and its history, and references to people like author Ursula Le Guin. She talks about her time in Columbia, the people, and the culture, as well as her life in Chile. (Where gardeners have an aversion to pulling weeds!)
The energy that connects the essays is Adam’s love for life, her search for universal truths, and her ability to live in the moment. She talks about her role as a woman, friendships, the spiritual life, and how as we age life changes us. One of the most interesting series of essays are those that cover Adam returning to Columbia to revisit where she lived as a Peace Corp volunteer, and to reconnect with the people that she knew at that time.
Adam’s essays are from the heart – insightful, passionate, in the moment – a beautiful connection to the people and environment that surrounds her. This is a lovely book to be able to go back to from time to time, and reread the essays that act to bring back our own memories, reconnect us with ourselves, and bring peace and joy into our lives. It is a keeper!
© August 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission from the author.