I’m not normally a memoir reader, but the premise of Finishing Year was so unique that I had to find out more: A 48-year-old exchange student is not someone you come across every day. What I enjoyed most about this book was how much it included — travel stories, art lessons, personal insights and lots of humor. And as someone who spent three years as an expat in Europe, I could relate to many of the author’s experiences.
Finishing Year is an often hilarious, always honest, collection of essays about a father trying to set a good example for his teenage sons while figuring out what he wants to be when he grows up set during a year abroad finishing his university degree. In a way, it’s a sort of coming-of-age story with lots of interesting glimpses of life in an industrial German town that most of us have likely never heard of. Some of my favorite sections include Roule, Roule (a very funny account of acquiring a bike), I Will Wear a Beret (the completely understandable quest of a non hat-wearing Canadian trying to wear a beret in Europe), and Life Imitates Artists (a rather in depth look at Van Gogh).
For anyone who plans to study abroad or to visit Germany, especially any of the museums in or around Mannheim, Finishing Year by Bentley Bryce Finley is a wonderful, firsthand account of both. Overall, this is a highly enjoyable read.
Title: Finishing Year
Author: Bentley Bryce Finley