Book Review / Migrating Toward Happiness

By Janet Hinkle

For years, Tara O’Grady and her band have charmed New York City audiences with jazz standards and Tara’s self-penned songs. Her latest creative endeavor is the wonderfully romantic odyssey Migrating Toward Happiness.

The memoir takes readers on an uplifting journey from the green valleys of Grandmother Nora Gallagher’s Ireland to drizzling Seattle, the desired end of an epic road trip honoring her other grandmother, Catherine O’Donnell. Along the way you meet her family and friends and, even better, you get to know Tara – her belief in destiny and gifted ability to see the joy in everyday miracles.

Tara’s lovelorn New York state of mind and loss of a job spark the idea to take a cross country tour across the northern part of the United States. She visits the many towns her bold, feminist Granny Catherine visited in 1957.

Tara O’Grady at the 32nd Annual LEAD EAST Car Show

Financially challenged, Tara nevertheless finds a way to make her trip. Noting it’s the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chevy Motors and that her grandmother made the trip in a 1957 Chevy Bel Air, she reaches out and is given cars from Chevrolet dealers along her path.

Subtitled The Soundtrack to My Spiritual Awakening, Tara titles chapters using the names of songs, musicians, and singers. She muses on the search for happiness and found wisdom from chance encounters, including this gem: “Everything you want to have you already do; everywhere you want to go, you’re already there; and everything you want to be, you already are. There is no distance between you and happiness, only in your ability to see it.”

I met Tara by chance at a NYC jazz brunch where she, accompanied by seasoned jazz musicians, sang classic jazz tunes by the greats – Billie, Ella and Frank. That chance encounter led to me telling her about artist residencies offered by The Studios of Key West. That led to an application and a residency in April. She fell in love with our island and the island fell for her.

Migrating is on sale at Books and Books at The Studios of Key West and also available on