Though We Would like to Believe Otherwise, This Is Who We Are
Between April 19 and May 31, 2018, one-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-five children were taken away from their families by U.S. Border Patrol. Most of these children were placed in juvenile immigration shelters while their parents were labeled criminals, charged with a federal misdemeanor immigration violation, and sent to jail. All because they were seeking a better life in America, the land of opportunity.
A Colorless Portrayal of Two Vibrant and Influential Women
“In bed, we were beauties. We were goddesses. We were the little girls we’d never been:
Amy Bloom’s historical novel, White Houses, proclaims itself to be an intimate look at the relationship between Lorena “Hick” Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. The story takes place over a weekend in April 1945, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt and just months before the end of World War II. In the novel, Eleanor has summoned her former lover to her Greenwich Village apartment after an eight-year separation. The two women quickly fall into a comfortable routine as Hick reminisces about their love affair.
“I don’t know how to live the life I want and still be a good daughter.”
Books have always been an important part of my life. When I have questions that I can’t answer, I turn to books. When I feel like the world is spinning out of control, I turn to books. Books are my constant companions and a source of both comfort and wisdom. I have always been able to pick up a book and see myself reflected in the characters. I took that privilege for granted.
"Don't just disappear on us."
I was born in the mid-1970s, in the shadow of the Vietnam War. I was too young to have any first-hand memories of the war, but not too young to eavesdrop on hushed conversations. I quickly learned the Vietnam War was a topic that was not suitable for young ears. That, of course, made it irresistible.
“In America today, having documents is not enough. Look at how many people with papers are struggling. Look at how even some Americans are suffering. They were born in this country.”
Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, sifts through all we have swept under the rug of the American dream. A New York Times bestseller and winner of multiple awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award, the novel explores themes of race, class, power and privilege from the perspectives of two very different families.
“At some point with family history one has to stop moving backward, researching and reminiscing, and let time go on its forward roll again."
When my paternal grandmother passed away in 2004, many of my family’s records, old photographs and letters were passed along to me. I’ve always been interested in history and genealogy, and so I became the family archivist. If you are fascinated by the stories you uncover as you delve into your family history, you will enjoy Escape Home: Rebuilding a Life After the Anschluss.
I grew up on my mother's family farm in Guilford, Connecticut. I have fond memories of rushing to the breakfast table to pour the cream off the top of the milk and into my cheerios. Most of what we ate came from what we grew or raised or what we bought from the neighboring dairy farm. We typically sold the best cuts of meat, so our freezer was full of tongue, liver, horse meat and other bits-and-pieces that you'd probably rather not think about. My father's family was from Brooklyn, and my great-uncle served in the OSS with Julia Child. My grandmother loved foods with butter, sherry and spices she brought home from her travels. Is it any wonder food made such an impression on me?
“She was twelve and a half in actual years, which is eighty-seven in dog years .”
Reading Steven Rowley’s debut novel, Lily and the Octopus, was an emotional experience. I started out a skeptic, then fell in love with the story of Lily, a twelve-year-old dachshund, and her neurotic and endearing human, Ted, before rolling my eyes and, finally, dissolving into tears and forcing my cat to endure an extra long snuggle.
“It was only then, raising my water glass in his name, that I knew what it meant to miss someone who was so many miles and hours away, just as he had missed his wife and daughters for so many months.”
Published in 1999, Interpreter of Maladies is a collection of nine short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. Winner of both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, I picked up a copy several years ago. It promptly took up residence on the pile of books by my bed and stayed there. Had friends not recommended it as part of my endeavor to read and write a review of thirty books in 2018, it would probably still be on the pile of good intentions.
“[A]s adults, we have come to see that her autobiographical novels were not only fictionalized but brilliantly edited, in a profound act of American myth-making and self-transformation.”
Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is the fascinating and sometimes frustrating biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder and, in almost equal measure, her daughter, Rose Lane Wilder. Written by Caroline Fraser, editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, it is meticulously researched.