Book Review: Have Mother, Will Travel?



Can Mothers and Daughters be friends or are they always foes? Mia and Claire Fontaine’s travels together in Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World
tell a story in two voices of each women finding their footing in their complicated lives. One in a quarter life crisis and one in a mid-life crisis–although they desire to support each other, they have been ignoring each other. Mia wonders how her mother could move across the country, bought a crumbling home which mirrors the state of her latest marriage and changed to a completely unsuitable job. As she says, “Mom, is this how you pictured your life would be when you’re fifty?” Claire wonders about her daughter and often speaks in the book about how mothers’ desires for their daughters and the ongoing important connections. Learning in the book of her disconnect with her own Holocaust surviving mother was surprising and made me question her stance as an “advice giving mother” when she herself was an absent daughter. As Claire says, “A woman’s relationship with herself is mirrored everywhere in her life, but no place more than with her daughter.”

The global scavenger hunt gave this team their early travel focus and Avignon a place to land for several months and decompress and reacquaint themselves with each other. Touring together is a challenge and at one point Claire comments, “Because Beijing is home to 9 million bicycles, 15 million residents, and 2 million tourists. And they’re all on this block!” As Mia explains, “Control is an issue between most mothers and daughters, and my mom will be the first to admit that she likes to be in command.”

The ongoing story of mother and daughter made me think of the movie, Brave
where Merida wonders how her mother can simply send her off to the strongest suitor.  Merida tells her mother, the Queen: I want my freedom! Queen Elinor replies: But are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost? In the movie, we learn this engagement situation happened to mother as well as daughter. Mothers have willingly or unwillingly participated in maiming their daughters throughout history from Chinese foot binding, to African female genital mutilation and arranged child brides throughout many lands. In this novel, the history of unnoticed childhood sexual abuse and drug dependence are part of the minefield this duo must navigate and integrate.

While this book took place in many physical locations on the planet, the main movement was in the interpersonal and intrapersonal family relationships. The two women are searching for purposeful paths for their individual lives, their mother-daughter relationship and where to wander and wonder next in the world. Claire explains “Time is rarely enough to clean up a painful history in any relationship…it’s often easier to keep fighting.” I think their commitment to each other and growth will inspire you when you read. Claire wonders, “Why do so many of us choose to be good girls going for gold stars, instead of clasping tight to the gold of our lives by living as we truly desire?

Explore with Claire and Mia and at the end you will probably need to call your own mother or daughter or be inspired to repair another key relationship. As Merida tells us:  Our fate lives in us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.

About the Author: Lisa and George Rajna met online in 2007 and started traveling together internationally almost immediately. By 2008, they had quit their jobs, rented their condo and left for a year on the road. After eleven countries, twelve months, losing sixty pounds and getting engaged underwater, they returned to Los Angeles. On July 1, 2012, the next year long adventure began in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, India and now Nepal.

Lisa Niver Rajna was recently on National Television as a science teacher on the show Career Day. She is a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, and a member of the Traveler’s Century Club for travelers who have been to over one hundred countries. She and George are spending a sabbatical year in Asia. Follow their travels at We Said Go Travel, on Twitter and on Facebook.

 This post is part of TLC BOOK TOUR for Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World

I did buy my own kindle copy of this book for this review. TLC Book Tours and the publisher have given me a copy of Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World
to give away! Please comment below about your favorite trip with your Mother or Daughter and I will raffle off the copy to one of the participants!

TLC Book Tours is a virtual book tour site. Virtual book tours are a promotional tool for authors to connect with readers via well-read book blogs and specialty blogs.


Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

2 responses to “Book Review: Have Mother, Will Travel?

  1. “It’s often easier to keep fighting.” How true that is! Traveling seems like a great way to mend a relationship and establish wonderful memories. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. unfortunately, my mother works way too hard to travel. However, I do remember the one week she took off for us to go away for my Sweet 15 (Sweet 16 is not celebrated in Latin America).

    I loved how she gave me my own space every evening just so I could explore on my own. I even had my very first kiss on that cruise! Then, during today, we would explore all the islands + the cruise together, partaking in activities, etc.

    This trip was truly an epitome of our lives and our relationship. I love my mother so much, she has taught me independence and that trip was proof of that — but also, of how much we enjoy spending time together!

    Sounds somewhat ironic from what you read on this comment probably, but it’s true! I can’t wait until she retires in 2 years so she can escape with me more often. I miss her traveling soul!

    – Maria Alexandra

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