Cover image for Perilous journey : a mother's international quest to rescue her children-- a true story
Perilous journey : a mother's international quest to rescue her children-- a true story
Sutherland, Patricia, 1960-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Far Hills, N.J. : New Horizon Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 318 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV6604.M35 S88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HV6604.M35 S88 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When Patty Sutherland meets a handsome Malaysian price and they fall in love,it is like a fairy tale come true. Patty converts to the Muslim Faith so they can marry and they soon have a daughter and a son. Yet as time passes, Patty begins to see another dimension of the man she married: he is violent, drinks heavily, is unfaithful and his family is well -known for corrupt, immoral behavior. Hoping to improve her life, Patty asks her husband for a divorce. He orders her to leave the country, snatches the children's passports and threatens her life.So begins Patty's quest. Traveling back and forth between America and Malaysia, when she learns the courts will not support her rights as a mother, she plans to smuggle the children out of the country and escape to freedom on a truly perilous journey.

Author Notes

Patricia C. Sutherland received a bachelors degree in political science and history from Lake Superior State University in Michigan. A substitute teacher, she is training her third marathon and volunteers in her children's Montessori classroom. She and her children, now 10 and 11 years old live in Suttons Bay, a resort village on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Sutherland, on an adventure with a friend, meets a handsome Malaysian prince and falls in love. In 1990, after Sutherland's conversion to Islam and arrangements by Prince Mahmood Shah Bin to divorce his wife, the American and the Malaysian prince marry and have two children. Then Sutherland's dream life turns nightmarish as she discovers the prince's true character--violent, alcoholic, unfaithful, cruel, and abusive. The cultural differences and repressive notions toward women increase Sutherland's fear that if she leaves her husband, she will lose her children. By 1994, Sutherland is forced to return to the U.S. without her children and begins the long, harrowing process of getting them back. Reconstructed from letters, interviews, court documents, and press accounts, Sutherland's ordeal is rendered in journal format from the time she meets the prince, through the troubled marriage, the unsuccessful custody fight in Malaysia, and the perilous journey to recover her children. This book will appeal to readers interested in the increasingly popular topic of American and Islamic cultural differences as well as those who wish to read a dramatic account of a failed marriage and bitter custody battle. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sutherland now lives on Lake Michigan with her two children, but a decade ago, her life was dramatically different. Traveling through Asia in 1989, the 28-year-old Sutherland met a Malaysian of royal descent; after a whirlwind courtship, she converted to Islam and they married. Living at the prince's South China Sea island resort, they had a son and a daughter, but Sutherland was disturbed by her husband's gun, alcohol abuse, infidelities and lies. Fearing his irrational rages ("Mahmood claims it's sometimes necessary to scare and/or beat the shit out of people to get things done") and his link with a Muslim extremist group, she contemplated ending the marriage; he retaliated by seizing the children's passports and making threats on her life, telling her to leave the country. Back in the U.S. without her children, she became involved in a custody battle that stretched on for years. Sutherland reconstructs these events with vivid, detailed descriptive passages, some drawn from her diaries and letters, communicating her early joy, "frayed emotions," confusion, despair and determination as she traveled back and forth between Malaysia and the U.S.: "I began a frenzied quest to organize and fund the children's rescue." Despite an ineffectual and murky cover design, the strong suspense will intrigue readers. (Dec.) Forecast: The publisher plans a 20-city satellite radio/ national TV tour and is playing up the Malaysian setting and the Muslim extremism to give this story media relevance. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



New Year's Resolutions January 1, 1989 My New Year's resolution is certain this year: Find a life. But how? Fill out the graduate school application that has been yellowing on my desk these many weeks? Seek fulfillment in good works? Run an ad in the personals? Bright, attractive, angst-ridden, irreverently neurotic, divorced, childless twenty-eight-year-old blonde BA with an `85 Toyota and $2,000 in the bank seeks Mr. Right and/or fulfilling occupation. All fascinating responses will be pondered. January 5 I went to dinner in Leland this evening with Janice Mullen, fellow ennui sufferer. She has invited me to come aboard to go abroad. I bit my tongue hard as I sputtered out a resounding "YES, tell me how? Tell me what, when? WHERE?" "Our destination is uncharted," she says, "our option's the world." "I can do this," I bubbled, babbled, burst with relief. Tentative date of departure: March 1; Return: maybe never; Itinerary: whim-driven. I need a passport, shots, backpack, sleeping bag, hostel card, money belt and plane ticket. I can sell my car, Fiestaware, vintage compact collection and complete set of Mother Earth News back issues. January 20 I am a woman obsessed, perpetually, ecstatically, intentionally obsessed. I have a stack of books from four different libraries on everything from cheap travel to elephant safaris. It seems I have been preparing for a long time, at least mentally. We had our first shots: typhoid and yellow fever. They were wonderfully painful. The doctor ordered anti-malarial pills and the vaccination for an ugly strain of meningitis sweeping through Nepal. Next week is cholera and the second typhoid. My passport application is in the mail and the Chicago Immigration Office where I mailed it promises materialization of said passport in two or three weeks. January 22 I suffered a long, excruciating anxiety attack last night that unnerved me. I was restless and troubled, unable to shake its grip until 4:00 A.M. As I struggled to pinpoint the source of my worries, I realized the reality of this trip was finally hitting me. A little fear and a few misgivings are normal and healthy, I told myself, though a lingering and wretched panic attack is surely cause for concern. Am I doing the right thing? What if I fail? How do I fathom the unfathomable? Thinking and writing about the tangibles of this trip are effortless, but I am unable to get my mind around the intangibles. I do know that, when taking a leap into the unknown, some anxiety is a perfectly ordinary reaction to a perfectly extraordinary action. I crave the profound change of habit/culture/people/values this trip will provide. I have been in such a rut lately, doing what is safe, easy and conventional. I am bored with conventional food, conventional travel and conventional men. I want this adventure to spawn the passionate, soul-blowing, hyper-intense love of my life. I want a husband with brilliance, wealth and easy laughter. I want servants, laughing children, a big beautiful house amid tropical breezes, great fun and a great love. For this, I will give up all that I have been saving deep within me and in return I want to be happy and fulfilled. Ah, dreams ... January 24 Today I bartered my eighty-three back issues of the Mother Earth News for a sleeping bag, which last had been used at the summit of Mt. McKinley (or so I was told). I found a cool twenty-five dollar backpack at a thrift shop and I intend to fill it with funky, functional clothes for all climates and cultures. I have phoned every 1-800 bucket shop from New York to Los Angeles and I'm a tad overwhelmed by the options. Janice left the flight plan up to me and has been no help. She says yes to everything. An eighteen-hour bus trip to NYC and a one-way flight to London for ninety-nine dollars? "Sounds great," she says. Hitchhiking to the West Coast and charming our way onto a cargo ship to Shanghai? "Splendid." Filling a suitcase with Levi's and Twinkies and flying to Moscow for a one thousand dollar profit on our first-class airfare? "Sure, whatever." Smuggling AK47's into Beirut? "Let me think about that one." She is extraordinarily blasé-a side effect, I suspect, of having four thousand dollars in cash to my two. My mantra has become, "I will not stress about money." The backpackers' travel guides know their stuff and confidently declare that one can live comfortably throughout most of the Third World for about five dollars a day. Between youth hostels, eating local food and traveling by bus or train, I can go exactly four hundred days with my two grand. And when it is dwindling down to pocket change, I will find one of the ubiquitous jobs available to young, strong Americans, like teaching English or harvesting grapes. My passport arrived yesterday and I've been thinking it would make a great earring. With my youth hostel card dangling from the other ear, I might start a trend. January 28 We got our second typhoid and cholera shots today. I just called Janice and she's flat on her back moaning. I have my numb, swollen right arm resting on a notebook and am writing with Herculean effort. I cannot lift my arm and any movement makes me gasp. I have no intention of changing my clothes until the pain decreases. As unpleasant as this is, I don't mind it a bit! In this pain is the ever-present realization of its function: Travel without Typhoid , a jolly good thing. February 1 Janice and I are buying around-the-world tickets for $1,899. After four thousand phone-calls, four hundred bizarre to banal options discarded, forty anxiety attacks and four nightmares about being caught in a Bangladeshi tidal wave, running for cover during a coup, rotting in a Chinese prison and getting lost in Katmandu, I finally struck a deal with a sweet Turkish guy in a Los Angeles bucket shop. My affluent and ever generous elder brother will pay for my ticket, bless his businessman's soul. The tickets are good for 365 days with up to twenty different stops and a slew of workable restrictions I must hammer out on my own with the airline. Not today, though, as I am exhausted by the two and a half hour telephone call to finalize the purchase and in shock by the implications of the term, "non-refundable." Actually, there are waves of excitement intermingled with the waves of trepidation. WE ARE GOING! February 6 There are two people coming to look at my car today. It is time to say goodbye to it. When I got the car, new and shiny and ready to roll, it was the fulfilment of my youthful dreams. My stand-up-comedian boyfriend and I spent many, many traveling miles between comedy clubs in it when I should have been in graduate school classes. It sat in Mother's yard when I moved to the Caribbean and met a Navy SEAL who became my husband. We sold the car to my brother Matt over the phone from our home in Norfolk, Virginia, and he sold it back to me when that marriage self-destructed after fourteen tumultuous months. Then, it served as my taxi when a friend drove me down to Ann Arbor, where I checked myself into treatment at University of Michigan for anorexia. After I finished the proscribed therapy and hopefully was on my way to handling my problem, it fetched me. Now I was selling my darling Toyota to further me along on the road to my geographic dream cure. Farewell, old friend. February 7 I got the price I wanted for the car. The buyer comes this afternoon to take away my earthbound wheels. I converted my final alimony check into traveler's checks. My menstrual blood flowed today for the first time in eight months. I have been worrying about it more than I'll admit. It stopped before I went into treatment and the doctors assured me that it was a consequence of the anorexia and would return as I gained some weight and my health improved. Well, bummer, because now I must shop for tampons, an expensive rarity in most countries. Hey, there is a bonus: I may also get my sex drive back. Yikes! I've been working on our itinerary with the airline. We had our choice of hemispheres and the northern seemed most logical. The first five tentative legs of our odyssey are Detroit to Los Angeles (Janice will go to San Francisco) to Honolulu to Hong Kong to Singapore to Bangkok. When we want to go below the equator, we'll buy the tickets locally or hop on a boat. February 28 In thirty hours we drive to Detroit to catch our flights to the West Coast where Janice and I will spend five days with relatives and friends respectively and then meet up at LAX for our flight to Hawaii. I got my final shot yesterday, gamma globulin for hepatitis. I have two thousand dollars in American Express travelers checks and $283 in cash, giving me, I figure, an additional fifty six and two-thirds days of travel, on top of my initial estimate of four hundred days. I have filled the backpack with exactly the prescribed stuff and lashed the sleeping bag bungee cords to the outside. I am ready to go right this very minute but, alas, our bon voyage party is tonight and I have another box to fill and put into storage and all day tomorrow to live through. March 1 I am in California staying with Aunt Emily and Uncle Bob and eating lemons and grapefruit off the trees in their backyard. My aunt and uncle insisted I see Crystal Cathedral and Disneyland, a tad too contrived for my style, though people watching at both places was priceless. Last night I slept fitfully, plagued by distressing thoughts: What if I lose my money, my backpack and my nerve? What if Janice loses her money, her backpack and her nerve? I tell myself to submerge these doubts right now, take a long walk in the sun and hum a few bars of "Leaving on a Jet Plane." Excellent idea. March 6 My aunt and uncle drove me to the Los Angeles airport and Janice and I met at the ticket counter as planned. In my seat, with seat belt fastened, I intend to recline a bit and devour a few magazines or flirt further with the cute guy across the aisle. My adventure of a lifetime has begun! March 7 We arrived in Honolulu at 2:00 A.M. and walked to a nearby park where we spread out our sleeping bags on the grass. There was no one around and we slept like lava rocks for three hours, got up with the sun and stumbled back to the airport. There we stashed our backpacks in lockers, cleaned up for a half-awake tour of Honolulu and caught the free airport shuttle into town. The fifteen-dollar-a-night youth hostel has a two-week waiting list and the free campground is closed until Friday. There is nothing else remotely near our budget so we've set ourselves up in an empty gate at the airport. The backpacker's "bible" recommends this as a pleasant, carpeted, hassle free domicile and we vehemently concur. The workers are friendly and the lavatories ideal for a paper towel bath and hair wash in the sink. The lights are pleasantly dimmed here at our chosen suite and the posted flight schedules list gates so we know we have this gate for at least twelve uninterrupted hours. We're spread out, enjoying the food we bought earlier in town, while we organize our stuff and search for deals in the tourist guidebook. During the day tomorrow, our belongings will again get stashed in lockers while we return to town for people watching, groceries and a tamping permit. Then, after another marvelous night here, we can head for the North Shore to camp. March 12 Dear Mother, Aloha from the Kaiaka State Recreation Area and Campground on the North Shore of the big island. We arrived here two days ago after checking out of gate 15 at the airport. After a long and scenic bus ride across the island, we hitchhiked with a surfer dude who brought us to the campground. We found the perfect waterfront site and pitched our tent. As the only campers here, we were a tad nervous until the maintenance couple came by and assured us the area is safe. A mongoose also came by and we spent a half-hour watching him nose around. There is a small town about a mile down the road with great, cheap restaurants and a plethora of hippie surfer dudes and chicks drawn to the best waves in the world at Sunset Beach. We spent yesterday there with our mouths hanging open in awe at the expert surfing and humpback whales breaching. We were joined by a South African and Dutch couple who have been everywhere and had endlessly inspiring stories to tell. Today we leave because the glamour of camping has worn off, due to its bugs, dampness, cramped, uncomfortable sleeping and early darkness (6:45 sunsets). We are returning to the airport and the tourist throngs of Waikiki Beach for our last two nights in Hawaii. Love and Kisses, Patty March 18 Dear Mother, I am eating a breakfast of yogurt, chopped apples, raisins and granola in a building on top of a grass-carpeted hill overlooking the spectacular Hong Kong Harbor, which some call Hong Kong's soul. Looking down on them, the sea blue waters become bullet gray in the distance. We are in a small cafeteria full of young people from around the world. We are the only Americans, though almost everyone speaks English. Janice and I are planning a day of touring and seeing museums in Kowloon with Carl, a German guy to whom we've been talking as we drink our coffee. We arrived here Thursday morning after a delightful eleven-and-a-half-hour flight. We flew Singapore Airlines for the first time and the flight was unparalleled luxury. Upon takeoff from Honolulu, sarong-bedecked attendants bedazzled us with steaming towels and engraved menus, portending a gourmet feast, which did not disappoint. The toilets were stocked with toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, razors, perfumes, lotions and mouthwash. They handed out playing cards and had postcards and aerogrammes that they graciously offered to mail anywhere. We felt like we were living in the bounty of luxury. When we first arrived, we walked around in a daze for a couple hours. The streets are packed with shops and kiosks and hawkers and peddlers and buskers and beggars and tourists. The noise is deafening, but the sights exciting. Fortuitously, finding the right bus was a cinch, because the guidebook warned that there would be a grueling forty-minute uphill walk to the hostel once it dropped us off. Well, for fifty-five minutes we trudged up steep, ancient steps wobbling from fatigue and the weight of our packs. Continue... Excerpted from Perilous Journey by Patricia Sutherland Copyright © 2003 by Patricia Sutherland Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.