In her newly minted book, Made For You And Me, my friend and Portland neighbor Caitlin Shetterly chronicles her small family’s inspiring cross-country odyssey in search of the American Dream. I won’t blow the arc of this very compelling story, but it has a lot to do with the Great Recession and our prevailing economic free-fall. Made For You And Me sits among the iconic westward-ho greats by Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie and Wisconsin’s own Laura Ingalls Wilder. Yes, I am talking about Little House on the Prairie – one of Caitlin’s favorites, too.
Try is tasty bite: “When we left the Holiday Inn parking lot that morning, the huge bag of things to take to the Salvation Army on my lap, I felt immensely lighter. After making our donation, we grabbed a couple of falafel sandwiches from a stand on Thayer Street that makes the best falafel wraps I’ve ever had in my life (hummus, hot peppers, pickles, baba ganoush, vegetables and tahini sauce all in huge fluffy, homemade pita) and sat outside on the grass of one of Brown [University]’s capacious lawns, the sun dappling our backs and Hopper panting contentedly. In one last effort to begin with order, I pulled a few bits of trash out of the car, ran a napkin over the dashboard, found every stray coin and put them all in the middle console for tolls and arranged an old piece of sheepskin on my seat to make our modern wagon more cozy. I made sure the animals were as comfortable as they could be and we hit the road. Our iconic American trip was beginning, once again, with lots of leg room and a new attitude.”
Caitlin’s memoir is powered by her astonishing, openhearted eloquence. When she described “feeling small in a big world,” I felt it, too. I felt the weight of her questions and her “what-ifs.” Best of all, this powerful chronicle of resilience and hope zips along without getting mired in gloopy cliché and sentiment. Made For You And Me is a dynamite travel story and an absolute gas to read. (And how apropos: I drafted this on a train from New Haven to Boston just before midnight.) •
NOTE: I expect she’s pretty busy these days but I have asked her for one of her recipes, so stay tuned!