From a long essay about his new book:
I am not going to complain about my childhood—it was worse than some and better than many. But it was a sickly time for me. Transplanted to the Fiji Islands from Pennsylvania when my parents joined the Peace Corps, I discovered I was allergic to many flowering trees and also developed acute asthma. The practical effect of this meant that some mornings I would wake to birdsong hardly able to breathe or open my eyes.
Yet we lived in the cliché of a tropical paradise, a nature-rich country in which nothing separated you from the outdoors. An island nation that knew the limits of its resources and thus, at that time, treasured them.
There could be no greater contrast between the beauty of that place and the realities of my condition. This is not to say that I didn’t have many good days as well, but along with the flare-ups a consistent undercurrent crept in, pulling us down: my parents were going through what my sister and I would later call “the ten-year divorce.” The mood in our house could be intense and disturbing—and confusing to a child.