Kathleen certainly ran away from home and this is her story of why she ran, where she ran, and how she was able to stop running and come home. It is an extraordinary story of a very clever, thoughtful girl who was terrified of being hurt, as had been her mother.
The story begins in her home town of Eugene, Oregon, USA. From there, rather than go to college, Kathleen buys a van and spends the next few years being a groupie, following a band from state to state. She lives a free and easy life making beads and bracelets to bring in money. Several factors combine and Kathleen sells her van and travels to Spain.
Here she meets and teams up with Stephano, the elephant carer at the circus. He becomes more than her Italian lover, and far more like the soul mate and friend she vowed she’d never let into her life. Gradually, Kathleen is asked to do her share of jobs, and to fill in when other performers drop out. Hence she is still able to experience the adventure and excitement of a circus performer. The most wonderful descriptions emerge of Stephano’s relationships with the elephants, and their responses to him.
Katherine and Stephano endure many hardships and highlights in the circus. The constant moving from place to place and country to country eventually begin to pall, with cultural differences as well as other issues begining to chip away at their relationship.
As Katherine said “I had spent my adult life aiming to be different…..but no matter how hard I tried I was just like my mother, and just like everyone else: trying to figure out who I am, whom I love, and where I go from here”.
With wonderful descriptions, many thoughtful insights, and observations, this book is very powerful. Her love of elephants is obvious with Katherine donating money from this book to the Elephants Nature Park at Chiang Mai in Thailand.
It is quite a treat to read such a richly descriptive book, with so many honest insights into characters and thoughts. She touches on so many issues that we are all at some stage, coming to terms with.