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The Year of the Frog  

Year of the frogBy Jim Parisi

I’ve just finished reading Juls Amor’s recent memoir “The Year of the Frog”, recounting her decision to relocate to Costa Rica. Many people have decided to do the same thing, for a variety of reasons. I have to say that Juls and I have a lot of similarities in our decision to live here. We both gave up lucrative jobs, sold everything and bought a one-way ticket. We also both write under a pseudonym. And we both have family members who think we have gone full-blown crazy to arrive at such a decision.

So while reading her new book, I sensed a series of parallel experiences. Juls’ book opens with a history of her life events that led to her move. She explains during this sequence that the writing is a bit disjointed because that is the way she felt at the time. I appreciated her explanation which helped me make sense of the writing and kind of plowed through it, having faith that it would all become clear. And it does: once Ms Amor arrives in Paradise, the name she uses consistently for the country she has moved to. But it is obvious that her Paradise is Costa Rica. Wink, wink.
Jaime Peligro Books and Music

I thought it was clever for Juls to name her titles after chapters of the Bible since institutionalized Western religious ethics (which she coins “controligion”) is one of the battles she chooses in the beginning of her book. Likewise, the word “frog” in her title is in reference to the many fairytale frogs that princesses kiss to turn them into handsome princes who will save the damsels in distress; hence her subtitle, “A Tattletale Fairytale”. And I truly enjoyed her list of “The Commandments” at the end of each chapter and watching the transformation of that list as the story develops.

But Juls walks away from her job as a therapist to examine her own life. She continues to kiss frogs once she lands in Paradise but a transformation takes place within the princess and the reader is allowed to go along for the trip. Amor’s description of the lifestyle here and the many colorful characters it attracts is a delight, humorous and poigniant. Being a vacation destination, there is a party atmosphere that is easy to get caought up in and I could relate to the author’s reaction to this when she first arrived. She is also spot-on about the local men’s attitude toward relationships. I have to say that I have experienced it with local women, too.

The book is at least in part the story of a spiritual journey, self-examination and growth and I applaud Amor for her direct honesty on these subjects. Truly, her reflections at the end of the book mark the growth she has experienced while living in Paradise. Could there be a sequel in the making?

Juls Amor’s new memoir, “The Year of the Frog” is available at the Jaime Peligro book stores in Quepos and Playa Tamarindo.

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