13 Years in America

Rated 4.94/5 based on 34 reviews
The powerful story of one woman’s search for happiness and fulfillment in modern-day America. More
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Vasiliki reviewed on Oct. 15, 2017

I really enjoyed this book; it's not the typical book I read, I have to admit, but found the pace easy going and engaging at the same time. Melanie has a way of providing insightful information about life and how we approach it. For example, her comment about how people 'do what will make them money, and then try to figure out how to get happiness from it' rings so true in our society today where people indeed accept complacency and that which doesn't bring happiness. Melanie and Scott (and little Morgen) journey was something I enjoyed participating in and indeed had an element of that idea 'domestic eroticism'. Well done to Melanie for sharing her journey with us.
(review of free book)
Mari Anjeli Lubrica reviewed on Dec. 5, 2013

13 Years in America. I wonder. Would I be able to write something like this, too, like 4 Years (plus) in Malaysia? Or perhaps 2 Years in Australia? Or 25- 6 Years in La Islas Filipinas?

I didn’t expect this book to be so thought-provoking. Reading through the first few chapters simply gave me a glimpse of a life of a girl who fell in love, got married, left the country she grew up in, came face to face with the realities struggling young couples face, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t until I got to the latter chapters that questions about happiness, fulfilment, and conforming to the system that we live in as a whole started nagging me.

What is happiness? Is it found in the end point or in the journey itself? Where do we find our fulfilment? Do we find it in reaching our goals or in loving and making a difference in the lives of others? And are we content in living in the prevalent system in this world? Working our butts off, making some decent money, getting stressed, getting tired, saying hello to our loved ones every now and then, repeating this cycle over and over again? Is this the way life is supposed to be?

I highlighted some of my favourite passages from the book, but it appears as if my e-reader lost all but one. Still, I can share this passage here as a penny for our thoughts:

After a few minutes, we rise and keep going. This time I fall behind, and I start thinking about how the beauty and wonder of this mountain aren’t just at the top; they’re here, right now, around me. Have an open mind on the way up. That’s where the experience is. My whole focus for years and years now has been on a goal, on reaching and achieving. And that goal, no matter how hard I work or how far I go, is always further on. It’s almost like the goal is a mirage, always on the horizon, just out of reach.

Have an open mind on the way up. That’s where the experience is.

13 Years in America ended, of course, with Melanie Steele’s 13th year there. But for me it didn’t really “end”. It’s not that there wasn’t any closure — there was — but it wasn’t the closure I was expecting.

But I guess that’s just the way life is. It’s continuous, it goes on and on, and — a lot of times — the chapters don’t end in the way that we want them to.

So let’s just make the most of the ride. Let’s enjoy life and drink in the beauty, savour every word and phrase before the pages of our books are through. :)

(review of free book)
Mary Borsh reviewed on Aug. 16, 2013

13 Years in America is a good story of modern-day struggles. The author really makes you feel her plight and helps you question your beliefs about modern society. I thought the characters were well-described. I felt like I knew them and was going along with them on their journey. I was sorry to see it end.
(review of free book)
Jessa Lund reviewed on June 16, 2013

Beautiful story well-written. I read this in pretty much one sitting because I couldn't put it down. The honesty and bravery inspire me to question and change. Thank you.
(review of free book)
Blaine Zaid reviewed on April 1, 2013

This book was a relaxing break from the action-fantasy novels I had been reading recently. It tells of a young women's efforts to remain true to her ideals while dealing with marriage, work, college, and parenthood. It is well written, and the main character is believable. Her husband's character is a bit underdeveloped, but she does explain that he's a type of guy who generally goes with the flow, rather than steering the course. The author does present the positive and the negative ramifications of her idealism, and I think it would be a good one for high school students.
(review of free book)
Khalid Alzayani reviewed on Jan. 17, 2013

Nice book. I enjoyed reading it.
(review of free book)
Micah Simon reviewed on Dec. 30, 2012

Steele you're awesome! 13 Years in America, I connected. I shared in her emotions, hopes, fears and success. Thanks for making it free.
(review of free book)
Sara Debussey reviewed on Nov. 26, 2012

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is wonderful on many levels.

First, the writing is superb. Easy to read, interesting, smooth.

Then, there’s the subject matter. It’s a brave story told by a regular person baring her soul. Her endeavors and struggles are laid out for us to enjoy.

Finally, there’s a deeper level of importance to this book, which gives food for thought on many issues we don’t take the time to examine enough: education, the treatment of elders, our emphasis on work over family.

Overall, 13 Years in America is a great, worthwhile book to read.
(review of free book)
Nick Fiocchi reviewed on Nov. 13, 2012

I don’t usually write reviews but felt compelled to do so for this one. 13 Years is a true inspiration. If you have a hard time dealing with reality and following someone making an honest attempt at finding happiness, then you won’t like it. But if you are ready for some honesty and truth, then you’ll love and appreciate this book. Life isn’t sugar-coated here. Things don’t turn out the way you might want, but that’s life.

It’s easy to criticize someone else’s choices, but when you get to know the characters and understand their purpose, then their choices make sense and infact they’re the only choices that are possible without them selling out. Throughout the book, Melanie chooses the hard path because it’s real. She chooses poverty over conformity and authenticity over consumerism. I applaud her drive and perseverance, and I thank her for writing this book and sharing her inspiring story with others. I’ll be awaiting more from this author.
(review of free book)
R Ralan reviewed on Nov. 5, 2012
(no rating)
I won't spoil Steele's perfect five-star rating, but it seems no other reviewer has mentioned that this is a story of failure from start to finish. The only genuine success is their child. Even Melanie's degrees, obtained at great cost, lead to nothing worthwhile. And the cause? Always choosing immediate gratification, never being willing to delay it.

Melanie talks her husband out of following the career he's spent years training for, simply because it would require two years in an undesirable location. She talks him out of it a second time even though their financial situation is poor. They borrow money at ruinous interest, then pay ten percent to cash the check rather than open a bank account. They rent land to grow a garden in hopes of saving more than $100 per month on food bills! They heat one home with a woodstove yet have to buy the wood. These decisions make no economic sense.

Along the line the author reveals a fear of the U S felt by west coast Canadians, seeming to find our nation a sort of East Germany without the language barrier. She gives two horrifying examples of U S history, neither of them quite accurate. The most egregious is the story of offering smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians, an incident that occurred in 1763 during Pontiac's Rebellion. To wit, the BRITISH defending Fort Pitt gave two supposedly-infected blankets to the besieging Indians. The ploy failed, no doubt because Indians had been exposed to smallpox many years previously, before the Pilgrims arrived, in fact.

Still, it's a compelling, well-written story. But memoir is easy--I'd like to see what she can do with fiction.
(review of free book)

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