Book Review – Life in the Left Lane by Emy Thomas

I picked up this book at the store at the Buccaneer our second day on the property. I flew through it in one day. Life in the Left Lane is a very easy read. “Life in the Left Lane” is a metaphor that describes what Emy calls Crucian Confusion. Driving on the left side of the road is just one of the many things that initially frustrate some Americans when they move to St. Croix. She says that for statesiders who are accustomed to efficiency and timeliness, moving to the islands can be quite a change. Emy says that those people who “enjoy life in the left lane are a special breed: adventurous, adaptable and accepting, with a good sense of the ridiculous.” Sounds a bit daunting, but it definitely made me want to read more.

Emy came to St. Croix through, what I would consider a non-traditional route. She had sailed all through the Caribbean and Pacific islands for thirteen years during the 60s and 70s. She was drawn to St. Croix and decided to build her home there. The fact that she was able to live on a boat for that number of years just shows how adaptable she is – I’ve never even lived without air conditioning.

Emy seemed to have a very pleasant experience building her home. She moved into it in less than a year. I’ve heard horror stories about building in the islands: workers just don’t show up one day, materials are hard to come by, and conditions for building can be less than optimal.

One thing that disappointed me about this book was that if left me wanting more. The chapter on building her home is only three pages. She has such a breezy style of writing that I just wanted more details, especially since we plan to build on St. Croix. That being said, she really covers a wide variety of topics in the book from Island Cuisine to “Precious Water”.

Reading this book was the first time I had ever heard about a cistern. St. Croix is not an island with a real rainy season. It does not have high mountains that collect and attract rain. As a result, unless you live in town, you have to build a cistern underneath your home. It’s like a basement full of water. The gutters on the house collect the rainwater and direct it into the cistern. (This was one of the first things I looked up on the Internet when we got home.) If too much time goes by without rain, you have to have water brought in by truck and pumped into your cistern. From what I have heard, this is not cheap. Of course, the water needs vary depending on what area of the island you are on. The east side is much drier and therefore, does not get the amount of rain that the west side receives.

Some of the information in this book was a little disconcerting, especially the chapter on crime, but the overall feel of this book made me want to move here so badly that I just wanted to look for an apartment and send for the pets to join us. Emy has such a great attitude and humor that permeates the book. I would recommend it even if you weren’t looking to live on St. Croix. It will expose you to a way a life that you likely have never fathomed or contemplated, but you will definitely appreciate after reading this book.