May This Be the Best Year of Your Life by Sandra Bornstein is an empowering memoir of love, commitment and adventure. I admired the strength that she was able to display during a time of such uncertainty. I also greatly respect the love and commitment she showed to her marriage and her family; this being the ultimate deciding factor causing her to move from her life in Colorado for a new adventure abroad in India.
Sandra married Ira very young and the two were inseparable while they attended, and graduated, college, started careers, raised four sons and built a successful life. They ultimately settled in Colorado and were fortunate that Ira had built a solid law career, Sandra was a K-6 educator and their four sons were grown or nearly grown. Everything sounded like the idyllic American dream come true, until the economic Recession hit and Ira lost his primary client. Suddenly facing a pending hardship they began to explore alternative career opportunities. Their son, who had recently relocated to India, suggested that Ira investigate opportunities in Bangladore. After months of enticing prospects and disappointed Ira finally receives a job offer and begins making preparations.
Sandra suddenly finds herself faced with a few big questions.
Her husband’s new job is going to require a lot of travelling. Does she remain in America and allow her husband to relocate to India for this job? Does she relocate to India with him and try to survive on her own while he’s away on work assignments?
How will she overcome her recent health problem and hip injury? Can she make it in Colorado without her husband? Will it be any different in India since her son will be close by?
What will she do for work? Could she teach in India? Would they hire an American teacher? How would she overcome the language barrier? How would she overcome the cultural barrier? If she moves, she will be a strange woman in a foreign land. Could she do it? Could she risk everything and move overseas to India and start a new life?
In the end, she knew she didn’t want to be separated from her husband and they were in this life together. She would move and she would make it work. She applied for international teaching jobs and was hired. The decision was made; this middle-aged Jewish couple was moving to India. While reading her book I was overwhelmed by anxiety for Sandra and Ira. What a monumental decision they had made and it felt as though it was all or nothing. They were invested and this was going to be their new life. Sandra and Ira faced all of the obstacles together and my admiration for the strength of these two people grew tremendously. I know that their faith carried them through this questionable time.
In her memoir, Sandra is the vision of a strong woman who confronts her fears but trusts in her Lord and her husband to guide her and see her through. She overcomes the obstacles that she encounters, including adapting to the cultural differences between America and India, accepting new teaching standards and adjusting to new students and teachers. She faces a health crisis while in India and is overwhelmed by how different the hospitals, doctors, and nurses are in India as compared to America and yet, once again, she perseveres and triumphs.
In May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, Sandra writes of her struggles against the unknown, how she faced her fears, and how she ultimately emerged a stronger and more beautiful soul. Her adventure in India taught her patience and strength, deepened her faith and love and created memories that can only be described as magical. It is a story of a beautiful journey, not only across the world but also in personal growth and faith. It is a very intimate book and showcases the personal details of a private life that is turned upside down in an instant and yet overcomes. It is inspiring and empowering. I can only hope that if I am ever facing a similar frightening challenge I am able to battle through it with the same strength and grace that Sandra shows in her memoir.
Review by Ashley LaMar
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