Finding Yourself in Costa Rica

paradiseimperfectParadise Imperfect is a shockingly honest, searching and funny account of an American family – members of the coping classes – who decamp to Costa Rica for a year to reconnect with each another. The narrator is Margot, a hyper-articulate wife to Anthony and mom-of-three who presents herself as being bossy and autocratic. However, as the story evolves, any controlling instincts she may have are foiled by her wicked sense of humour; her relentless self-awareness; her pervasive middle-class-white-person guilt; combined with an extra layer of mom guilt. I feel that the danger with a book like this is that Costa Rica could become a glamourous but one-dimensional backdrop for self-obsessed naval-gazing. This book does not fall into that trap. The author brings you on a journey of the wonderful aspects of Costa Rica, painting a picture of a beautiful and dramatic country, with a population that has its priorities straight. The life that Margot’s family has in Seattle sounds pretty cool, but the book leaves you with a sense that Costa Rica was an alternative, a real and attractive alternative, to the (admittedly) rather wonderful two-income frenetic lifestyle that they enjoyed in Seattle. PS – By the end of the book you will be both in love with, and terrified of, their housekeeper Magda.

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