Cover Warnick This is Wehre You belong

Melody Warnick’s This Is Where You Belong came to my attention at a great time! It was at the start of another gorgeous summer on the Central California coast, at the beginning of the tourist invasion — and we started thinking about how nice it would be to not get stuck in traffic or feel we needed to plan our errands, appointments, etc. around rush hour (as in, telling my doc I couldn’t take a 4:00 appointment on an August Wednesday because driving the 5 miles from her office to my house would take an HOUR, so please give me the 9 am 2 weeks later). I had been looking at coastal towns for places with access to quality medical care, at least one good bookstore, good water, and at least a semblance of social tolerance…maybe we should move!! (Been here 30+ years)

As I began reading, I loved the author’s style: entertaining, open, filled with relatable thoughts about the feelings of insecurity when plunked down in a new environment (including new town, new job, new school, etc.) and appreciate how she is totally supportive of the reader’s qualms about relocating. I never really GOT why she and her family moved from Austin, TX to Blacksburg, VA, but I loved that after moving frequently she decided that rather than wait to see how it felt to live in a new place yet again, she would actively do things to make herself fall in love with Blacksburg. (Thinking “good luck with that, I have BEEN to Blacksburg”…)

Recent studies have found that PLACE is often more important than money – especially for millenials. In the 20th century, huge population shifts took place in the U.S. as people followed jobs and hope. It sounds like such a first-world problem, considering that most people in the world are struggling just to have a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and clean water, but that is our reality: for the most part, we have the luxury to pick up and go if we aren’t happy where we are. And considering that most people in the US move between 11 and 12 times in their lifetime, we are pretty much guaranteed to go through this change.

This book is filled with ideas on how to make yourself love where you live, focusing on getting out and meeting people and becoming actively involved. I think for someone who is struggling to feel happy in their chosen town or city, these would be useful. I kept imaging that I had just moved to a place I wasn’t crazy about, and trying some of her ideas. My fundamental conclusion for years has been that some people just are not that affected by their physical environment, but for those of us who are, no amount of involvement would make us truly happy in certain circumstances. OK, I admit, I am highly affected by the WHERE that I live, but I just don’t think I could ever be happy in a place that has weather extremes, giant bugs, or no bookstores (or lots of Republicans, but that’s another story).

After reading this book, I haven’t changed my mind, but I realize lots of people are way more adaptable than I, and could really benefit by her upbeat suggestions. I appreciate NetGalley’s exchange of a review copy of this book, for my honest review. I’d recommend this for someone who is about to move or has just moved and is less than 100% ecstatic about it (for example, my friend is about to relocate from a small town in Vermont to a coastal community in Oregon and she cannot wait to escape summer heat and humidity along with “real winter”). For those of us lucky enough to truly love where we live (even with all the tourists in summer—just be grateful for the money they spend that helps our town year-round), it’s a fun read and does include ideas that would be helpful to anyone who wants to feel a bit more connected to their community.Four stars.