Book Review: Third Culture Kids by David Pollock and Ruth van Reken

Reviewed by Aneesah Bakker

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds (TCK) remains a seminal text addressing the international expatriate experience from multiple perspectives. In writing this comprehensive body of work, David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken have made a valuable contribution to this growing multicultural trend and phenomena.

The perspective that recognizes that children raised within internationally mobile families are part of a unique cultural dynamic with its own particular set of consequences is very refreshing. Readers will appreciate the thorough and extensive research presented in clear, insightful and practical ways.

Particularly useful is the focus that acknowledges the challenges that come with being globally mobile together with the practical and proactive strategies to empower Third Culture Kids and their families meet them. It is a valuable resource that will also help teachers, counselors, managers and others working with multicultural and mobile families. Equally significant is the shift from a primary focus on deficits to one that appreciates the gifts and especially powerful interpersonal and intercultural skills that such children develop. The findings presented are provocative and challenge traditional notions of identity and “home”.

This excellent book, written in an easy conversational style, rich in illustrations and relevant anecdotes, is presented in three parts: The Third Culture Kid Experience, The TCK Profile and Maximising the Benefits. Reluctant to create ‘labels’, I approached this book, which was on my ‘to-read list’ for 5 years, with ambivalence – an ambivalence that turned to relief, respect, reassurance and even delight. Even though, at times, the great body of information filled into the 300 pages felt intimidating, I enthusiastically recommend this as a worthy and valuable read.

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