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Out and Back: Essays on a Family in Motion, by Elizabeth Templeman

In this collection of twelve personal essays, Elizabeth Templeman peers into the rear-view mirror, reflecting back over two decades of family life. Her stories pull forth the joy and mystery, the hopes and fears, the antics and expeditions, of those years when the kids are coming of age and the nest is emptying. They conjure up a family coming to know themselves—who they are as individuals, and also the volatile mosaic they form stuffed in a rental van on their way across the country, crowded within a nylon tent on a windy beach, or crammed in a creepy motel room in an unfamiliar landscape.

Out and Back celebrates the ordinary and captures what it means to be a family, even as that family hurtles across the expanse of seasons, space, and every conceivable mood. There are those magical moments when family—a constellation of five—all seem to be gliding in the same direction, leaning into one another. But more typical are those times when individuals careen into one another, colliding, or at the last minute, clutching that safety net. Spinning from the slapstick to the subdued, the pages tell of storm clouds and squabbles, of teenage angst and hard-won amnesty, of hockey rinks and icebergs and everything in between.