Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Pocketful of Light by Jan Stafford Kellis

A Pocketful of Light, 13 Days in the World’s First Tourist Destination, is a charming look at Jan Kellis’s Italian trip with her teenage daughter, Stephanie.  I recommend it for anyone contemplating a European voyage with a teen or young adult offspring.  Kellis’s attention to detail in her planning will help travelers anticipate and prepare for minor irritations.  While it won’t replace a traditional guidebook, it might just make reluctant parents realize that such a trek is possible even without a substantial budget. 

Starting in Venice, Kellis captures the reader with her honest reactions: “Immediately overwhelming.  Chaotic, confusing, and, well, foreign. My first impressions of Venezia were compromised by one of my best assets, my self-confidence. . .”  Here Kellis shows how so many of us, especially Americans, feel when we’re first in a new place then she guides us in ways to overcome our fears.  Arranging to meet an old friend and her teenage daughter in Tuscany (the friend was a Norwegian foreign exchange student who lived with the Kellis family in the 1980s) adds to the excitement of the trip and will make readers think about ways to enliven a trip with a younger traveler.

When the duo meet Kate and Liam, a mother and son from Colorado, in Tuscany, they learn that they’ll both be in Sorrento at the same time setting up one of the joys of traveling – the chance encounters that can make a trip exceptional. Kellis also tells of the minor difficulties that can derail a trip, things like long bus rides, tired feet and ogling men but she tempers them with an openness that allows for humor and joy in the journey. Picking up sea glass on a Mediterranean beach and carrying it in her pockets led Kellis to note: “the sea glass emitted a comforting glow. I’m carrying a pocketful of light. . .” 

Still carrying the reflected light, they cancel their last night in Sorrento so they can spend more time in Rome with their new friends thus illustrating that careful planning needn’t become a stranglehold. This portion of the book carries the reader along with the foursome as they enjoy the Spanish steps and delectable meals in each other’s company.

The book ends one year later when the Kellis family visits Kate and Liam in Denver and begins planning their next trip. It also includes useful appendices with lists and the trip budget. 

Summing it Up: Read this book to decide if you might like to travel with your child and to enjoy tagging along with a typical American family as they share their journey. 

Rating: 4 stars    Category: Nonfiction, Dessert, Super Nutrition

Publication date: July 18, 2011
Jan Stafford Kellis is also the author of Bookworms Anonymous, a book about a non-traditional book club in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  Find information about her club and the books they’re reading at:

Author's website:

No comments:

Post a Comment