‘Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée’ Offers Comfort to Expat Children
Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée
Written by: Corinne Feuillet Luca & Virginie Houet
Illustrations by: Corinne Feuillet Luca
Publisher: Les Editions Amalthée (January 10, 2018)
Expatriates, or ‘Expats’ as they are commonly referred, are people who live outside of their native country. We read about expats all the time. Even the most notable expats in history- such as famed authors Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald- are famously affiliated with a glamorous, carefree life in Paris. However the reality is, being an expat is difficult- even more so when that expat is a child. Seldom do those tiny narratives ever surface.
But… Why do I have to leave my friends? My family? My school? My home?
Change this drastic can be hard and undoubtedly traumatic for a child. They often depend on structure, routine, and familiarity. A move to a new country and new culture could be earth-shattering for someone so little and inexperienced. Adults who experience culture shock and home sickness are better mentally equipped to work through these challenges. Children don’t yet have the mental capacity to understand or reason expatriation. They also don’t have the choice to expatriate. The decision is made for them- unlike adults.
A Citizen of the World
Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée offers comfort, peace, and positivity to expat children. It tells the story of Élise, a little girl who moves from Thailand, to France, and then to the United States as result of her father’s career. She describes the imaginable upsets- establishing an identity in one environment, only to be plucked from everything she’s worked to make comfortable and familiar, and left to start over and assimilate into a completely new life. Élise experiences the range of emotions and fears. She doesn’t want to leave her friends. She’s scared her aging grand-parents might pass. She feels the stress an international move also imposes on her mother, who also has to start anew. However, her mother reminds Élise that as long as we have love in our hearts and memories to keep us smiling, the people we meet and friend will always be with us. With this in mind, Élise begins to move forward and adjust into her new American life. She makes her American bedroom uniquely hers. She begins to adjust and settle at school. She even looks forward to her return vacation to France, so she can tell her best friend there all about life in America. In the very happy ending, Élise realizes she is proud of her life and considers herself a true citizen of the world.
Expat Moms Who Empower
Authors Corinne Feuillet Luca and Virginie Houet are both expat moms who personally understand the trials and tribulations of expatriation. However, they want to make sure that Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée can extend beyond the expat parameters. Feuillet Luca and Houet want to empower children by encouraging to draw strength from grief, loss, and separation. A Belgium native, Virginie Houet works as a freelance journalist, specializing in the defense of human rights and expatriation. Much like sweet Élise, Houet’s career path took her from Thailand, to Belgium, Texas, and Georgia. Likewise, Corinne Feuillet Luca specializes in graphic design and illustration, gladly sharing her passion through Princesse Chouquette, Tibouille & Cie– where she sells her artwork. Feuillet Luca also illustrated Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée, which is page upon page of stunning depictions of Élise and her life.
Open the Door to Your Secret Garden
Élise, 7 Ans, Expatriée is a story about coping and drawing strength from separation. Whether your child is an expat or not, all parents should pick up a copy. Told in both French and English, this lovely story is universally applicable to any child in need of opening her secret garden- the portal to her cherished memories, fantasies, and imagination. When we open such a space in our hearts, we are never truly lonely.
À la prochaine.