TCK/EXPAT Films and Books


I am home – Thoughts of a Nomad
See link for review and film

Third Culture Kids
Several TCK’s interviewed about their lives.

The Road Home
(From the Website) “Growing up in England, ten-year old Pico never wanted to go to boarding school in the Himalayas, and despite the beauty there, he struggles to fit in. When he’s bullied for insisting he’s British in spite of his Indian heritage, he runs away, determined to return to his home in London. As he journeys through a country foreign to him, Pico encounters others who mistake him for an Indian boy, forcing him to face the painful truth that the world does not see him the way he sees himself.”

So Where’s Home?
TCK’s being asked about where home is…

Shanghai Calling
A New York attorney is sent to Shanghai on business, where he finds himself in a legal mess that threatens his career. With the help of a relocation specialist and her contacts, he soon learns to appreciate the wonders of Shanghai.

Building Identity as a Third Culture Kid Ted Talk by Erik Vyhmeister (TCK). 



This is a list of books I am compiling of TCK and Expat memoirs. I am not rating them or endorsing them except I have added some notes on the ones I have read. I have commented on a few in my blog.

Please tell me about others!

Third Culture Kids, Growing Up Among Worlds by David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken
This is not a memoir but a must read for anybody who grew up in countries other than their passport country or who have children growing up internationally.

Expat Alien, My Global Adventures by Kathleen Gamble
This is Kathleen’s journey through the ups and downs of growing up among cultures and living as an adult between cultures.  She survived a plane crash, a coup d’etat in Burma, earthquakes in Mexico, driving through the Andes in Colombia and army ants in Nigeria.  When she goes to college she experiences “reverse culture shock” and her peers see her as an alien who has landed in their dorm. She continues to travel and spends 9 years living in Russia during the great changes of the ’90s.  Having to leave Russia on very short notice she finds herself back in the USA feeling like a refugee.

Girl Uprooted by Lena Lee
A memoir of growing up TCK.
(see link to review)

For The Souls and Soils of India by Helen C Maybury
Helen, the author, is a missionary kid who grew up in India. Her mother wrote letters home often and Helen has put these letters together in a book. It is an interesting account of daily life as missionaries in India at the turn of the century. Helen provides some additional comments throughout the book and I wish there was more written from her perspective.

Home Keeps Moving by Heidi Sand-Hart
This is a wonderful, easy to read account of life as a Third Culture Kid who, due to her missionary parents, travels constantly between the UK and India. It is one of those books, as a TCK, I love to see. It touches on issues a TCK can relate to…confused loyalty, the search for identity, re-entry, friendships. Yet it is not overwhelming or sad. It is upbeat and engaging. Heidi, the author, includes contributions from other TCK’s providing an additional layer and perspective. If you are a TCK or interested in learning about TCK’s, this is a book for you.

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
A Danish woman moves to Africa to marry and ends up running a coffee plantation for many years. It is full of heart breaking challenges and great adventure.

Potato In A Rice Bowl by Peggy Keener
A military wife from the midwestern USA finds herself moving to Japan. She meets the strangeness and unique challenges of adjusting to a new culture with lots of humor and tongue-in-cheek.

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
Elspeth Huxley moves to Kenya at the turn of the century when she is six years old. It is a great story about her adventures growing up in the bush of Africa.

Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global edited by Faith Eidse, Nina Sichel
This is an anthology of memoirs from Isabel Allende, Marie Arana, Pat Conroy, Carlos Fuentes, Pico Iyer, Tara Bahrampour, Ruth Van Recken, Ariel Dorfman, and more.

Expat Life Slice by Slice by Apple Gidley
Apple Gidley’s book, Expat Life Slice by Slice, is an engaging story of expatriate life. Apple grew up in Africa and Asia and continued her married adult life wandering the globe adjusting from one posting to the next. She addresses the painful challenges of nomadic life as well as the excitement and joy of discovering new places.

Fly Away Home by Maggie Myklebust 
Maggie Myklebust’s book, Fly Away Home, reads like a fairy tale. There are no giants or pirates or six handed men but there is love, adventure, confusion, hope, disappointment, challenge, sorrow, contentment and finally joy. All the elements of a good story. It is a real page turner.

Voluntary Nomads: A Mother’s Memories of Foreign Service Family Life byNancy Pogue LaTurner
Voluntary Nomads is about a US Foreign Service family adjusting from one post to the next. It is a highly personal account written by the mother of a family of four and includes funny, sad, interesting, and anxious anecdotes about their travels and the inevitable challenges of bringing up children in far away places.

West With the Night by Beryl Markham
Beryl moved to East Africa as a young child and lived there most of her life. As a young woman she took up flying as a bush pilot and ended up being the first woman to fly solo from east to west across the Atlantic. This is an account of her life. An excellent read.

Overseas American: Growing Up Gringo in the Tropics by Gene H. Bell-Villada
An American boy grows up in Latin America and struggles with identity problems. His parents divorce and he is sent to boarding school in Cuba and then goes to live with his father and step mother in Venezuela.

Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing by Ruth Ellen van Reken
Ruth is sent to missionary boarding school in Nigeria at a very young age and misses her family very much. She spends a long time struggling with her faith and coming to terms with her situation. She writes letters to her mother as part of the healing process.

Hidden Immigrants: Legacies of Growing Up Abroad by Linda Bell
Linda Bell interviews 13 people who have grown up globally. If you are a TCK you will be able to identify with much of this book. I read it years ago and want to re-read it.

At Home Abroad: An American Girl in Africa by Nancy Henderson-James
The daughter of American missionaries growing up in Angola in the 50’s.

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller
Alexandra grows up in South Africa during the turbulent 70’s and 80’s moving between Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia.

Strangers At Home: Essays on the Effects of Living Overseas and Coming “Home” to a Strange Land by Carolyn D. Smith

The Absentee American: Repatriates’ Perspectives on America and Its Place in the Contemporary World by Carolyn D. Smith

An Englishwoman in India:  The Memoirs of Harriet Tytler 1828-1858 Edited by Anthony Sattin  (see link for review)

Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life by Elaine Neil Orr  An American missionary girl growing up in Nigeria

May This Be the Best Year of Your Life:  A Memoir by Sandra Bornstein  An American couple move from Colorado to India

Trailing: A Memoir by Kristin Louise Duncombe       An American TCK marries an Argentinian doctor and follows him to Africa (see link for review).  She has written a sequel: Five Flights Up about moving with her family from Paris to Lyon.

The Sullivan Saga, Memoires of an Overseas Childhood by M.H. Sullivan

Lenin Lives Next Door, Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow by American expat Jennifer Eremeeva

Perking the Pansies by Jack Scott  English expats living in Turkey

Culture Shock, A Practical Guide”, by H.E. Rybol

“Two Brauds Abroad, A Departure from Life as We Know It”, by Camille Armantrout and Stephanie De La Garza

Here We Are and There We Go : Teaching and Traveling with Kids in Tow by Jill Dobbe  (See link for review) Jill has written two more books: Only in India: Adventures of an International Educator and Kids, Camels & Cairo.



  1. Thank you! I have read some of these, but I will have to get reading some new titles I see here.

  2. Got 2 for you ‘The diary of a single parent abroad’/Jill Pennington – A single mum abandoned on an Italian mountain with 3 kids and no money.
    ‘Faking it in France’/Karen Bates – A woman who emigrates to France only to discover she doesn’t want to be there.

  3. I’ve also made a documentary film to go along with my dance production about the experiences of TCKs. Check out some of the footage here:

    The Chameleon project is now focused on working with current TCKs and taken on a more educational context. You can visit the blog here:

  4. Not sure how I missed this for so long – thank you very much for the recommendation! I’ve read many of the books listed here and now have some to add to the list.

  5. Trailing: A Memoir by Kristin Louise Duncombe, An Inconvenient Posting – an expat wife’s memoir of lost identity by Laura J Stepehens, The Ruby: A re-entry survival story by Suzanne Johnson, Are We There Yet? Travels with my Frontline Family by Rosie Whitehouse.

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