After The Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In, by Susan Miller
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
The updated version of an immensely popular guide to encourage those dealing with the occasional trauma of moving, this book offers something familiar to the reader as well, a book written by a woman for women about women . Although there is nothing in the title of the book itself that would suggest that this book is narrowly focused on women, the contents of that book make it plain. As I coincidentally received this book as I was in the process of moving across state lines myself, to the other side of the river in the Portland area, I found it contrary to my expectations that in one way the book was written with a great deal of relevance about the complexity of moving while on the other hand it was not written to me at all. For those familiar with the original version, as I was not when requesting this book, the updated version contains more specific information about difficulties faced by single women, divorced moms, widows (like the author), or military wives, which adds quite a bit of downheartedness to the book as a whole.
In terms of its content and structure, the book as a whole is divided into three parts and numerous chapters. The first part, Let Go, contains seven chapters that discuss the reasons for moves, the stress of moving (especially when one does not have a great support system), the difference between nicks and dents, and the need to remove luggage tags and come to acceptance with a move like someone going through the five stages of grief. After this, the second section of the book, Start Over, encourages its readers to bloom where they are planted, to find encouragement in their spouses, and to meet new people and create new traditions to make them feel more at home. The third section of the book contains the last six of the book’s twenty chapters over a bit more than 200 pages and encourages the reader to “Move Forward” by coming full circle, recognizing that certain professions and life situations (like being an athlete’s wife, a pastor’s wife, or military wife) mean moving. These main contents are followed by two appendices that give more advice from women who have moved, some healthy advice on how someone can get settled, various endnotes, and some information about the author’s Just Moved Ministries for women cut adrift from their roots. Within the chapters themselves sound biblical advice and quotations from other books about the difficulties of moving are mixed with quotations from those whom the author has comforted about their moving, as well as sections like Heart To Heart and Unpack Your Survival Box in most chapters that provide emotional support and encouragement to stressed out movers and practical and rather direct tips on how to make their moving go better, such as: “Let go of expectations that you’ll move back (48).”
In many ways, this book is both practical and full of a great deal of emotional support. The author envisions a potential market of millions a year for this book, and has written with particular types of women in mind; as the book is not written at all to men who move, I did not find it to be very useful even as someone who has on several occasions had traumatic and sudden involuntary moves. That said, Christian women moving would likely find a great deal of encouragement in the comments of other women in similar situations who have dealt with moving successfully, and can hopefully overcome the bitterness of some women whose moves with their husband has led to separation and divorce and to divided families. That said, it is a shame that so few men are likely to read this book, since one of the ways the author consistently mentions that women can have a better time with moving is to receive love and consideration for their own feelings from their husbands, and that sort of sensitivity and understanding is likely not particularly common, and this book somewhat ill-suited to bringing the matter to the attention of the men this book is not aimed at. In its absence, then, the author seems to present a picture of women sticking up for and encouraging other women through reading when one is in a strange place without a circle of friends, looking for new congregations and setting up new habits and trying to find a place as a stranger among one’s new neighbors. The book also provides, towards its end, thoughtful encouragement to women struggling with the traumatic effects of combat on some of the men in their lives as well. Hopefully this encouragement finds its way to many who are in that situation.
 See, for example: