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As indicated by the urgency of the title, 12000 Miles in the Nick of Time is about traveling quick over a great distance in the midst of a crisis--in this case, an emergency of the heart. Author Mark Jacobson and his wife, Nancy Bray Cardozo, decided that their family--the three kids and two parents--had reached a mutual moment of decision. Things were tense in the house. Their precocious, darling oldest daughter Rae was raging through teenagehood, staying out late, flunking out of school. The other two, Rosalie and Billy, teenagers-in-training, were spending way too much time in front of the TV. This desultory equation, the parents thought, in their admittedly slapdash way, could only be changed by the introduction of something radical, something big.

The World was big. The World was radical. The World would get everyone's attention. To the World they would go, and too bad about the cries and whines of der kinder. It would be FOR THEIR OWN GOOD. So they went, on their particular baedeker, a journey into what the parents surmised would constitute a touch of The Real: Thailand, Cambodia, India (dementedly, the parents actually believed the kids would really like Varanasi, where Hindu pilgrims bring the bodies of their dead relatives to burned on massive pyres, the ashes tossed into the River Ganges), Nepal, the deserts of Jordan, Cairo, the soon-to-be seething streets of Jerusalem, and eventually Paris and London.

12,000 Miles should inspire wanderlust in all those who ever have taken any sort of a journey, or even contemplated one, but this isn't really a travel book. It's not even an adventure travel book, though the Jacobsons certainly had some harrowing and mind-blowing encounters during their three months abroad. 12,000 Miles is about another kind of travel, about remembering who your family is and how you all got that way. It is about journeying through the often impersonal, frightening, dangerous universe with the people who, for better or worse, share your DNA, experiences, memories, and dreams. It is about the spaces that exist in between you and the people you love, how they sometimes grow too great, and how distances can be closed, simply by reaching out and taking the time to look at each other, sometimes in the most remote of locales. This is the story of an American family.

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