Books about Reverse Culture Shock & Re-entry

Books about Reverse Culture Shock

Looking for good books about reverse culture shock or repatriation?  There are several books available for missionaries and expats who are transitioning back to the USA to give you insight on what the transition is like.  It’s not an easy transition and sometimes it is helpful to have others tell you about what their experiences have been.  Here is a list of books I’ve come across…

One of my goals for this blog is to provide some book reviews on these books, but we’ll start with a list.  I welcome your suggestions as to other books you have found that are available about re-entry or reverse culture shock.

General Books on Reverse Culture Shock for Missionaries/Expats

Burn Up or Splash Down by Marion Knell

Good overview of missionary re-entry, as well as, how to transition children back to the USA.

Reentry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home by Peter Jordan

Written by a YWAM missionary, this book offers a look at re-entry issues specific to missionary community.

The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti 

A good overview of the repatriation transition written for a broad range of people including expats, military families, exchange students, missionaries, etc.  This is a very thorough and comprehensive look at reentry and reverse culture shock issues.

Homeward Bound:  A spouses guide to repatriation by Robin Pascoe

This is a funny good read from written from the perspective of an expat spouse.  Good thoughts about moving back to the USA and making a new life in your new home.

Looming Transitions:  Starting and Finishing Well in Cross Cultural Service by Amy Young

This is a great book about Transitions.  Lots of really practical tips.

After the Boxes are Unpacked by Susan Miller

This book comes recommended as a good resource for anyone who is transitioning to a new place.  It is not specifically written for those moving back to the USA, but is for anyone making a new home in a new place.  This ministry also has community groups that you can find out about through their website. 

How To Survive Reverse Culture Shock: Understand It, Feel Better and Get Your Life Back! by Elena Nebreda 

This book is written primarily for the expat community.  It includes a brief workbook.  At first glance, it has helpful information, but was not written by a native English speaker so can be awkwardly worded in places.

Avoiding Burn-up on Re-entry: Mission Critical Essays for Expats & Employers by Linda Fraser Jacobson

I have no personal experience with this book, but it’s on my list of “books to read.”

Strangers at Home: Essays on the Effects of Living Overseas and Coming “Home” to a Strange Land by Carolyn D. Smith.

This book appears to have good reviews, but be currently out of print.  Another one for my reading list.


Melissa Chaplin has put together a very complete workbook to help you process your reentry experience.  This workbook is designed for those who are looking to debrief their experience overseas.  The book also touches on processing your spiritual journey during re-entry.  This is not one to read, but a book to do.  It is a well thought out, complete, debriefing tool.  Check it out:  Returning Well.

Books on Helping Others Process Reentry and Reverse Culture Shock

The Reentry Team: Caring for Your Returning Missionaries by Neal Pirolo

This book focuses on helping churches and supporters at home know how to care for missionaries moving back to the USA.

Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights for Counseling the Globally Mobile by Lois Bushong

This is a great book for therapists focusing specifically on counseling those who have lived internationally.

Books on Helping Children with Transition and Reverse Culture Shock

Third Culture Kids:  Growing Up Among Worlds by David C Pollock

A classic on TCK’s.  A must read.

Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: practical storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family by Julia Simens

The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition by Tina L Quick

I’m sure there are more books out there to add to this list.  What are some of your favorites??

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Ruthie formerly served cross culturally in Central America. She had her own rocky reentry back to the USA about eight years ago. She currently lives in the Midwest where she enjoys volunteering with refugee families, shopping international grocery stores, and drinking cups of coffee with friends.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Ruthie,
    Have enjoyed reading your blogs! My wife and I lived in Costa Rica for 2 years and Honduras for 1. We now are based out of Northern Iowa and travel to Central America, Mexico and Uganda primarily to teach leadership training and discipleship. Two of my most memorable re-entry moments were being over whelmed and discusted and walking out of Walmart. The other was going to Menards for a tube of caulk and being challenged with an aisle full of choices. I couldn’t decide so I walked out empty handed.
    I have forwarded your link to a few people that I know will benefit from the wisdom.
    Actually, with all the travelling we have done over the past 7 years, I have no home…we have a nice old house we live in but I can’t wait to go home…to heaven!
    God bless you sister! Keep the posts coming as the Lord leads!

  • Ruthie: Worthy is the LAMB!

    I am one of those whom Wayne referred to your site! I am pleased to see your work on helping people during this reentry process. And glad that you have referenced our book, THE REENTRY TEAM, in you resources.

    It is so true: “What’s the big deal? They’re just coming home!” too easily spills from the lips of the people back home. And, if the field worker has not had good training, he will echo those words! And this is only one of THIRTY-FOUR reason I have discovered that produces produce the horror stories of reentry.

    Again, thank you for your work in this area of ministry. ~~~~NEAL

  • HI – I just left a comment on one of your posts, then realised you have a resources page. I have written an e-book about my testimony of surviving reentry. I felt there were a lot of “how to” books out there but not many actual stories. If anyone reading this would be interested, the link is below. My heart is to help others, not to gain financially – all proceeds go to the ministry with whom I served and not to me.

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