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Finishing Year: A 48-year-old single father takes a gap year to finish his university education as an international exchange student in Europe.

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Can a man change his stars? Can he ever really rise above? These are the questions that plague our mortal souls. Bryce Finley, a 48-year-old Canadian single father with an unfinished university degree, two nearly grown children, and no visible (future) means of support, is about to find out. After three years working at his local university, he decides to hit the books and Can a man change his stars? Can he ever really rise above? These are the questions that plague our mortal souls. Bryce Finley, a 48-year-old Canadian single father with an unfinished university degree, two nearly grown children, and no visible (future) means of support, is about to find out. After three years working at his local university, he decides to hit the books and go back to finish his degree and show his kids he never meant to be a dropout. His eldest has already quit high school, but is there still time to show the youngest one? When his university contract ends, completing his long-delayed education in art history proves to be financially difficult, so he jumps at the chance to study - with the aid of a small scholarship - as an international exchange student in Europe. What follows is a life in a cramped student dorm in an industrial town in Germany that is - luckily - an ideal jumping off point for visiting the great art capitals of Europe. Life-changing experiences follow, along with chances to reflect and improve upon a life some have called a financial train wreck, in which only one of his two kids might ever graduate from high school, and in which our hero finally realizes he never, ever, decided what to be when he grew up. But that was then, this is now, and class is in session. With style, humour, and cunning linguistics, Finley makes his way through his last year of university, the great museums of Europe, and the social fabrics of a handful of European countries, to emerge a wiser, more-educated, and potentially more-employable person.


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Can a man change his stars? Can he ever really rise above? These are the questions that plague our mortal souls. Bryce Finley, a 48-year-old Canadian single father with an unfinished university degree, two nearly grown children, and no visible (future) means of support, is about to find out. After three years working at his local university, he decides to hit the books and Can a man change his stars? Can he ever really rise above? These are the questions that plague our mortal souls. Bryce Finley, a 48-year-old Canadian single father with an unfinished university degree, two nearly grown children, and no visible (future) means of support, is about to find out. After three years working at his local university, he decides to hit the books and go back to finish his degree and show his kids he never meant to be a dropout. His eldest has already quit high school, but is there still time to show the youngest one? When his university contract ends, completing his long-delayed education in art history proves to be financially difficult, so he jumps at the chance to study - with the aid of a small scholarship - as an international exchange student in Europe. What follows is a life in a cramped student dorm in an industrial town in Germany that is - luckily - an ideal jumping off point for visiting the great art capitals of Europe. Life-changing experiences follow, along with chances to reflect and improve upon a life some have called a financial train wreck, in which only one of his two kids might ever graduate from high school, and in which our hero finally realizes he never, ever, decided what to be when he grew up. But that was then, this is now, and class is in session. With style, humour, and cunning linguistics, Finley makes his way through his last year of university, the great museums of Europe, and the social fabrics of a handful of European countries, to emerge a wiser, more-educated, and potentially more-employable person.

35 review for Finishing Year: A 48-year-old single father takes a gap year to finish his university education as an international exchange student in Europe.

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tony Sax

    I have never written a review before, but that does not stop me from starting now. I haven't read any travel books before, but if they are anything like this book I believe I really should start reading more of them. Where to begin? Finishing Year by Bryce Finley was such a joy to read, from start to finish. His mastery of prose and his way to make a book read like a spoken story are astounding skills you may not find in many other books. He peppers in such witty remarks throughout his story, suc I have never written a review before, but that does not stop me from starting now. I haven't read any travel books before, but if they are anything like this book I believe I really should start reading more of them. Where to begin? Finishing Year by Bryce Finley was such a joy to read, from start to finish. His mastery of prose and his way to make a book read like a spoken story are astounding skills you may not find in many other books. He peppers in such witty remarks throughout his story, such as complaints about the Hausmeister who does anything but his job and the Myth of German Efficiency. But these specific examples are not the only ways he makes the story worth reading; his spoken-word like approach to story telling makes it feel like you are sitting right next to the author as he is telling the story to you personally. His descriptions of the places he visited while in Europe are excellent. As a person who has been to many of the same places he visited, I must admit that he expertly relays the feelings of those places. Perhaps to a reader without such experience it won't have as much of an impact, but his descriptions of people and places in the book made me smile on more than one occasion as so many very distinct memories were brought back to the forefront of my mind. All of this could not have been possible if not for the wonderful way in which Finley brought these places to life through his words. I have to admit, art and art history never really interested me very much. Yes of course I can appreciate a good painting and its history, but I never really wanted to make special trips to museums just to see obscure paintings only students of art would be able to recognize. The astounding way Finley described the paintings he saw while in Europe was a huge surprise to me. It was not a surprise to me that he was able to accomplish such levels of description, but it was astonishing to me how an author could in fact describe them at all. I have never thought much about how to relay a picture through words, but Finley obviously has found a beautiful way in this book. He has an ability to bring both places and things to life through words and that is something I have not personally found in many books. I have only one complaint about this book: I wish it were longer. If it were 200 pages longer I would have no complaints at all. Finishing Year is a book you simply do not want to put down. That is a testament to Finley's ability to write such gripping descriptions of places and things. I know there was so much more for him to write about during his stay in Europe, and perhaps he only wanted to write the amount that was published, but I know I would not argue if he decided to add more to his already wonderful tale. I do not normally get very sad at the end of books, but I found myself in this exact state of being when I finished this book only a short while ago. I felt like I really got to know the author while reading his work, and even though he is alive and well in Germany or Canada, I feel like my connection with him has been severed, at least in the intimate capacity a personal travel memoir can provide. I will end this review by saying that I am very glad that I got the chance to read this book. It opened my eyes to things I had never thought of, and it provided me with a new set of eyes through which to see places in Europe that my own eyes have already seen. If you only read one travel book in your life, it should be this one. Without a doubt in my mind, this is one of the finest pieces of literature that I have read. (You may argue my experience in literature all you want, but to me and my own experience this holds true, which is what ultimately matters here since it is my review after all!) I hope that this book receives the recognition it deserves and I hope that if you are reading this review that you give this book a chance. I assure you, you will be better off for reading it. Tony (4/19/2015)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ward

    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. Overall, this is a fun, informative and thoroughly enjoyable read. Finishin 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. Overall, this is a fun, informative and thoroughly enjoyable read. 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 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 indepth look at Van Gogh). For anyone who plans to visit Germany, especially any of the museums in or around Mannheim, this book is a wonderful, firsthand introduction to the place. **I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.**

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon Tran

    *I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads* This was a fun, entertaining read from start to finish. Finley was able to paint overseas travel (here being an international exchange student) in a way that can be both confusingly foreign and easily accessible. As someone who has rarely traveled outside my state, I have always viewed international traveling as an unrealistic option. After finishing Finishing Year, not only is international travel a more comfortable idea, but the idea *I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads* This was a fun, entertaining read from start to finish. Finley was able to paint overseas travel (here being an international exchange student) in a way that can be both confusingly foreign and easily accessible. As someone who has rarely traveled outside my state, I have always viewed international traveling as an unrealistic option. After finishing Finishing Year, not only is international travel a more comfortable idea, but the idea of going after what you want now is also presented as the best option when living life. The one knock I have against Finishing Year is the level of description with some of Finley's recollections. When Finley returns to finish his degree at the age of 48, there is very little, if any, mentions of regret or pessimistic reflection. Instead, Finley briefly states he wouldn't have guessed this is where he would end up, but spends the majority of his storytelling looking at the present and to the future. It's a piece of advice I hope to incorporate more in my daily life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire Herbaux

  6. 5 out of 5

    Consuelo Murgia

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shin The Bookworm

  9. 5 out of 5

    Táňa Brňáková

  10. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  13. 5 out of 5

    Puscas Mircea

  14. 4 out of 5

    Manuel

  15. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kartika Ali

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

  19. 4 out of 5

    Seanna Yeager

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christina Borgoyn

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Pike

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Zitsch

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daryl Moad

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Riquelme

  27. 5 out of 5

    Siufong

  28. 4 out of 5

    Larry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sue Williams

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  31. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Adamek

  33. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jinesh Gupta

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sek Ting

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