Reviewed by Amy Bermudez (Army)
Here Be Dragons: A Parent’s Guide to Rediscovering Purpose, Adventure, and the Unfathomable Joy of the Journey bills itself as a parent’s guide, but I think it’s so much more universal than that. Annmarie and Ken narrate alternating chapters as they recount their journey from college co-eds to a family of five in the span of 17 years with 11 (yes, 11!) moves in the middle of it all.
Author Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and daughters
Annmarie worked as a teacher with challenging students and her husband was in the Navy. They both eventually moved on from those careers, but you can tell that they answered a calling to forge a difficult path. I really loved that! Hat tip to people who choose the tough road. They shared their wisdom through all of life’s changes and challenges, and that’s what I was needing to hear. (Not to mention, the writing is beautifully lyrical; you don’t need to be going through a tough time to appreciate it.)
Part of me wished that they shared more about their marital struggles. That’s probably just because I can’t relate to parenting struggles, and for all I know, there weren’t that many marital issues. Besides, it would be particularly tricky water to navigate if you are writing a book with and still married to a person and you are re-telling fights from years past. I admire the way the Harbaughs approach life and writing. I kind of want to be Annmarie. (In a Freaky Friday way, not in a creepy Silence of the Lambs way.)
The book resonated with me so much that I ended up passing it along to a dear friend who is not only a fellow Army wife but also a new mommy. I don’t know that she’s gotten the chance to read it much (see that whole new mom thing), but I hope that as she also navigates life’s challenges, that she appreciates the humor, wisdom, and wit as much as I did in Here Be Dragons.
You will love this book if you are in the military or a family member, if you live a topsy-turvy life, or if you appreciate a well-told tale.
My favorite part was everything about the family dog! The book is so not about the dog, but I read that last chapter with tears in my eyes, nodding my head, and petting ol’ Geronimo. (My old dog turns 11 in July. 11!) I also really enjoyed the section about the family’s struggle after their second child was born. I could relate to the haze that can temporarily settle over your life and cloud out everything else.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5! This was a can’t-put-down book for me, and I can always use more of those on my nightstand.
Buy Here Be Dragons
About the Authors:
From the book’s Amazon page:
“Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh is a mother, teacher, and dog lover — and an above-average cook and below-average housekeeper. Both a dancing queen and a brick house, she is an avid reader of cooking websites, fitness magazines, and articles that promise she’ll lose weight fast. Annmarie earned her National Board Certification in English Language Arts, holds a masters in urban education from Yale University, and has been a beloved teacher at half a dozen high schools from Florida to Seattle. Annmarie’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, New York Observer, and on National Public Radio.
Ken Harbaugh has flown reconnaissance missions off North Korea, researched war crimes in Afghanistan, and deployed in response to natural disasters both at home and abroad. He co-founded ‘The Mission Continues,’ an award-winning nonprofit that empowers military veterans to find purpose through community impact. He is currently the president of Team Rubicon Global, an organization that provides veterans around the world with opportunities to serve others in the wake of natural disasters. Ken’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and the Yale Journal of International Law. He is not as funny as his wife.
Annmarie and Ken live in Avon, Ohio with their three children and an assortment of dying houseplants. Follow them at DadvMom.com, an online community dedicated to the proposition that couples can love one another and their children at the same time. Mostly.”
About the reviewer:
Amy Bermudez is a writer, educator, and Army wife currently stationed in Tennessee. Some of her published articles include “Our Military Family, Our Reality” on The Huffington Post and “Moving is Not Following” on Spouse Buzz. She has reviewed Alice Bliss , Here, Bullet, and We Are Called to Rise for the Mil Spouse Book Review.