Category: Reviews

TCKs (third culture kids) and their parents have a slowly-growing list of resources to use as they navigate their very unique world. This year, an amazing help was added from an unlikely source: a Disney Pixar film.

You’ve probably heard a lot about “Inside Out.” How it’s ambitious, how it’s really a film for adults, how it’s a tearjerker. That may all be true, but it’s also a deeply helpful tool for TCKs and their parents as they face transition and grief.

The quick version of the story is that 11-year-old Riley and her parents have just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. While Riley faces the challenges of this change, her personified emotions (Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) are facing turmoil and chaos of their own inside her head. The plot isn’t that complicated, but the emotions are, and that’s the beauty of viewing this film as a TCK family.

The emotions of transition

First of all, the movie resonates with TCKs because it takes place as Riley and her family are dealing with transition. Riley has been lifted out of her familiar life in Minnesota, where she had a best friend and was a star player for the hockey team. Now she’s in San Francisco, where she’s the new girl, and feeling lost.

It’s fascinating to see how the movie portrays the different emotions of transition. During this time, Joy is gone, and the major components of Riley’s personality are crumbling. Fear, Disgust, and Anger literally take control of Riley, and she’s no longer the goofy, cheerful girl she was in Minnesota. It’s not a stretch to say similar things happen when our TCKs are going through major changes.

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If you’re looking for a great book for a middle-school TCK (third culture kid), you’ve found it.

Sharon Creech is already recognized as an outstanding writer and storyteller. She is best known for her award-winning book Walk Two Moons.

Bloomability is similar to Walk Two Moons in that it also tells the story of a young girl with an unusual family situation who goes on a journey, and who happens to be right in the middle of growing up. But, in Bloomability, our heroine, Dinnie, has one more twist in her story: she’s living in a foreign country.

Dinnie recounts that in her “first life” in the United States, her family regularly moved to various states as her father pursued “opportunities.” Things were not going well, though Dinnie seems to have taken the frequent moves in stride. After some problems with her siblings, life changes in a major way for Dinnie. Her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max come to take her to Switzerland, where her uncle serves as the headmaster for an international school.

Dinnie struggles with leaving her family and being in a new country. She is not entirely sure why she is being taken away; she even says that her aunt and uncle have “kidnapped” her. She doesn’t hear from her family often, and feels a bit lost. But, as with all her other moves before, she makes some new friends and rolls with the punches.

This time, however, Dinnie realizes that this is not just another new place, and it’s not just another group of kids to befriend. It dawns on her that, perhaps for the first time in her life, Dinnie has a lot in common with these students, even though they are all from different countries. In her “first life,” Dinnie was always the new kid.

But, “[h]ere everybody was from different places, not just me. Most of the people were new, not just me. Everybody had a different accent, not just me.”

For children who live overseas, especially those who have other expat friends, this will ring very true. In fact, there are many passages that will resonate with TCKs as they read Dinnie’s story.

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