This was another tough letter, until I realized one of the things Anne resents the most in Blood to Fire is her forced expat status. The book opens, in fact, with the revelation that she’s all but sequestered herself in a passive-aggressive rebellion against what she views as her entrapment in the Russian Federation. She almost comes across as a xenophobe–despite her love of research and learning.
This is the way she is most different from me. I still count as close friends people I met when I (or we) were not in our home countries. Something about exploring new things together is an uncommon bond, and makes friendships established in those circumstances last beyond what many Americans expect.
In fact, I recently read an insightful blog post about what it means to be an expat, and, even though my experiences as one were primarily from a child’s perspective, I still found myself nodding at the strange dislocation returning “home” can bring. I am a third-culture kid, with the perpetual outsider’s view on the communities I inhabit, which is in many ways a freeing perspective, and also, I suspect is part of why I have the romantic sense of “home” being where those I love are, rather than any geographic location.
It’s a lesson Anne will continue to learn as the Red Slaves trilogy comes to a close.