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Sassy Peach Goes to Kindergarten: Happy 5th Birthday!

Wow! We made it! Half a decade! That's crazy talk. I said to a friend the other day how much I couldn't believe how far I've com...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Every Day is For the Thief: A Novel

I enjoyed Open City, Teju Cole's novel that came out a few years ago, so I quickly jumped on his new novel, Every Day is For the Thief.

Going home is never easy. As it is for our narrator who returns home to Lagos, Nigeria from New York after many years away. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people--it is all just as he remembers yet so disparate from his current life. He navigates his old life, attempting to reconcile it with his current. Time passes, we grow and change, yet our homes remain the same. How do we find equilibrium in this process?

Cole's writing style is as if you are watching an old-school Cassavettes film. (I am specifically speaking of Shadows for all of you film buffs.) He tells the story but there is a feeling of removal that goes beyond the telling of a work in third person (this is actually told in first); it is almost as if a scrim has fallen over the work and I am ten steps back from the process. I really enjoy this, though, and it reminds me of what it feels like to be a stranger in a foreign land where you don't know the customs, you don't speak the language, and you can't read the signs. This terrifying sense of disequilibrium is exactly how I felt when I stepped off the train in Bratislava, Slovakia, and I sincerely appreciated Cole's harking back to that memory for me.

My absolute favorite scene in this book...okay, well, there are two. The first is the opening scene when our protagonist goes to obtain a passport from the Nigerian embassy, and the challenge that goes with obtaining such desperately needed documents from a place whose far-reaching corruption extends even to the shores of this great nation. My other favorite scene was the witnessing of the Nigerian money scheme, the one that we have all seen and experienced in our own email inboxes. He watches this take place up close and personal, and the description of the process, the time and effort that goes into this scam, and watching those who are caught, shaken down, then go back at it again is fascinating and mind-bending.

Hard copy version only below.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line

I haven't read the ubiquitous Kitchen Confidential and I haven't yet been sucked in my Top Chef or anything else like that, so I jumped into Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Girney.

What does 24 hours on the line look like when you are a sous chef? Busy and back-breaking, to be precise. This detailed, rapid-fire look at what it takes to make a restaurant kitchen run is fast-paced, honest, and raw to the bone. If you think you can cut it, give it a try--only time will tell.

I loved this book, more so than I thought I would. As I said, I haven't picked up any of the previous kitchen tomes and I am not even a huge fan of Food Network (I need fiction in my telly stories), but I do love a well-written, fast-paced book. I learned so much from this short book that I felt as though I was there in the kitchen. {In truth, it's not terribly short, but for something that read as though I was in the kitchen with him, it felt woefully short. That's a sincere compliment.}

I have to say, before I read this book I really didn't have any idea how seriously so many people take what they do in the kitchens of my favorite restaurants. I had always just assumed it was another job, one that you go to and do what you are supposed to do to the best of your ability, but reading this really opened up my eyes to the seriousness taken by those who prepare my meal. The job of the kitchen staff is to provide nourishment to their clientele; it is a relationship of the highest order and is taken seriously every time the chef puts on his or her uniform. It is more than a job; it is a pleasure and an honor.

I have a higher level of respect for those who serve me in restaurants more than ever before, from the underwaiters to the prep cooks. Each has a job that he or she takes seriously, and it is all in the name of the basic need to be nourished, to be cared for. I loved the frenetic pace that this wild room took me on, and I also loved that I was led to appreciate a way of life that is so different from my own.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sleep Donation: A Novella

Full disclosure: I adore Karen Russell. I found out Sleep Donation was being released yesterday and I clamored to get my hands on it. Trust me--it was worth it.

A disease has struck the world, one of insomnia that finds its recipients unable to sleep. It costs lives and breaks down its carriers. A cure has been found--sleep donation. The Slumber Corps is a nonprofit facilitating this need, and Trish is their best donor recruiter. She lost her sister to the disease early in the outbreak. When she discovers that which was never meant to find, her faith in her work is shattered and she must choose between keeping quiet to serve the greater good and listening to her moral voice.

I was sold on this novella just a few pages in. The thing about Russell is that she doesn't wow you with thunderous events or grab you with outlandish writing; she is the master of subtle storytelling in that you are reading, reading, reading, and all of the sudden you have discovered it's three in the morning but don't stop now because you can be finished by daybreak. She tells her stories the way that heat technology works in your super thin winter coat--it seems thin and you question whether or not it will make an impact, then at the end of the day you are stunned to find you didn't even realize how amazingly warm and comfy you have been for hours. I get lost in Russell's writing, so much to the point that I whip through her books the way I can drink a glass of cool and crisp white wine, not even noticing that the glass is finished but yes I would like another, please.

This book was almost flawless to the point that it was so very real and frightening. The idea of staying awake for long periods of time is at first appealing. (I am a grad student--I could get so much done.) Then you hear her descriptions of what happens to the body and to the mind after time and it is horrifying, frightening, and stirring to the point that even I would volunteer my own sleep to help others. All of this is told in such an attenuated way that it creeps up on you like a silent cat in the dark.

It doesn't take long to feel deeply for Trish and to understand her unwavering and almost cult-like devotion to her work. I started to question her choices with her, and I wanted to be with her when she discovered who exactly the Baby A universal donor was. As she deals with the devoted mother and the reluctant father, each of whom has a clear motive in supporting or opposing the unrelenting donations needed from their child. Trish, though, was the main character but was also a vessel through which the story needed to be told. She was conflicted about her discovery, and I don't doubt that most of us know that feeling--finding out that the person you thought was doing the most good is just like everyone else, greedy and slightly dishonest. The pathos and ethos of Trish was incredible. This book stunned me--you should have it stun you.

My review of Swamplandia is here

Kindle version available below.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Wicked Girls: A Novel

When your favorite author recommends a book, you get it. That's how I found Alex Marwood's The Wicked Girls. I picked it up this week and WOW.

One fateful summer day two young girls lives change forever--they are convicted of the murder of a small child and will spend their childhoods in lockup. Two decades later, Kirsty is a journalist with a family who is on the beat of a serial killer and has moved on from her childhood experience. While on the case she runs into Amber, and regardless of the years and the name changes they recognize one another instantly. They both have gone to great lengths to move on from the past and build their current lives, and it could all come to an abrupt end before they know it.

I was really fascinated by this book and had a hard time putting it away. I feel that every time I picked it up I was furrowing my brow, attempting to figure out what had happened in the girls' childhood that would cause them to be two of the most notorious killers known in the U.K. The story was told in intermittent flashbacks throughout the present day story which was interesting and on the mark for me. I appreciated not knowing the truth of what happened until it was revealed bit by bit throughout the book. It was interesting and deliberate.

I had the killer figured out pretty early on, but I didn't feel in any way that it ruined the story for me. In fact, I found the "why" to be much more interesting than the "who." The psychology of killers is incredibly fascinating to me, and the juxtaposition of Amber and Kirsty with the present-day serial killer of local and tourist women was intriguing for me. I enjoyed the story immensely and was in it the whole way through.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Crime in the Neighborhood: A Novel

Black Friday last year found me at the used bookstore my mom frequents, Read It Again, and they had a to-die-for sale. I picked up some oldies that sounded interesting, and I ended up with Suzanne Berne's A Crime in the Neighborhood

It's a hot summer in 1973 in the quiet, bucolic suburbs of Washington, D.C. A twelve year boy is found molested and murdered, sending the whole neighborhood into uncertainty and fear. Marsha was a schoolmate and, even as an adult, remembers that summer clearly. The tragedy was intertwined with her own home life falling apart, and when Marsha claims to know who is the killer, lives of so many will never be the same.

I was beyond pleasantly surprised with this novel. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I love crime (especially true crime!). I picked this book up based on the short blurb on the back and I enjoyed it more than I ever could have guessed I would. I loved the period it was set, and the connection between the larger neighborhood events with Marsha's own personal struggles was seamless and positively lovely.

I found myself so lost in this book with such a desire to stay lost. It wasn't whimsical or moving; rather, it was raw and honest and stripped bare. I loved that about this book, that the narrator (an adult looking back on her childhood memories) felt so real and introspective, wanting to defend and justify who she was then while still feeling remorseful about playing her part in the action. The writing was honest and real, and I would absolutely recommend this book if you are looking for a solid piece of work that digs deep into the psyche of why we do what we do. It was really wonderful, and I am so thankful that I picked it up.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love: What Neuroscience Can--and Can't--Tell Us About How We Feel

Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love: What Neuroscience Can--and Can't--Tell Us About How We Feel by Giovanni Frazzetto.

Humans are complicated creatures, full of emotion and thought that is sometimes beyond our everyday grasp. What is the science behind emotion and therefore who we are as a species and as individuals? Sometimes we don't understand where our emotions are even coming from, yet they own us at times and shape who we are and become. Not just the emotions of the title, but also anxiety, grief, and empathy are a part of our makeup and shape our daily lives, our art, our history, and our relationships. This expertly written treatise dives into what makes us who we are through stories, research, and plain old explanation.

It is hard to find a science book that is written for the masses yet represents research honestly and with all of its warts, for better or for worse, and I found it in this book. I was blown away by Frazzetto's ability to discuss on a deep and sincere level what it means to be human from a neuroscientific perspective while still being on the level with the remotely intelligent everyman. It's not easy to write as an academic for the masses, so I was incredibly impressed with Frazzetto's writing style. In fact, I have strongly recommended it to all of my students.

I have been wrestling in my own work as of late how to understand emotions from a cognitive perspective, as they are viewed differently in fields throughout both hard and social science. Trying to integrate my own understanding of these processes into what I do and what I research has been a struggle, and this book has come at the very right time for me. It allowed me to better access my thoughts on the subject and to view them from a new perspective, that of neuroscience. While I often take into account a neuroscientific perspective, it has been difficult with the topic of emotions (and affect, but that is getting way too into my work life on this blog right now) as I have just been trying to grasp where they fit into my cognitive paradigm. This book was beyond helpful for me with my "research hat" on.

Putting my research hat aside for now and donning the fun fedora I love (do you love my metaphors as much as I love making them?), I found this book to be fascinating from a casual reader perspective. We are a strange, strange species, us humans, and any insight I can get into why we do what we do allows me to be just a smidge more empathetic toward my fellow humans. I want to become a better person every day, and having insight into what makes us tick, and how that is built into our wiring from the day we are born yet is so strongly affected by our environment, gives me that opportunity for betterment.

Happy exploring! Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Science of Raising Children But Were Too Exhausted to Ask

Being that I do what I do for a living, I was drawn to Dalton Conley's Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Science of Raising Children But Were Too Exhausted to Ask.

When Dalton Conley's first child is brought into this world, he knows that he must raise her well in order for her to be successful. But what does "well" mean? Conley turns to the social science research behind child development to come up with the most well-laid plan of parenting he can find. He bribes his kids to do math homework, but soon discovers what rewards (or punishments) work for each of his children. Instead of ADD medication for his son he uses a placebo, and gives both of his children weird names in order to teach them self-control. It's parenting of a different order for sure--and Conley shares his lessons learned along the way.

I was initially interested in this book because I am always interested in anything having to do with pop psychology, particularly child development. After all, it's a large part of what I do. To be honest, I typically go into these kinds of books assuming the worst, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that for the most part, the author used and properly represented research as he really did have a background in academic research. I was perturbed by some omissions regarding a couple of major theorists, but overall I could look past it to examine the book as a whole. While I was satisfied with the research, there were times where I felt like he went to the extremes in using research to justify his parenting. However, I am in no place to judge other parents and read this book with much more curiosity than judgment.

I tended to focus on the feeling that Conley was using research to justify parenting choices rather than making parenting choices based on research. The thing about what we do in empirical research is that we understand and accept things can be seen from either side. For every body of literature that supports a parenting choice, there's an additional body of literature that argues another side. I wish that more counterarguments had been presented in this book, but alas, this is one man's story and it can only be told from his perspective.

That being said, I can tell you that I did enjoy reading this book. I appreciated that Conley came from the perspective of an academic purposely seeking out research to make informed choices. I enjoyed the stories he told about his children, and while I think that his children's names are a bit funny (his daughter is E, which I originally thought was a pseudonym, and his son is Yo), I can say that I respect his decision to not just name them what he and his wife chose, but to raise them in the way and manner he and their mother see fit regardless of popularity. While I can't say I agree with some choices, such as the willingness to call his children names such as "retarded," I think that if he believes this is his way if bonding and it's not adversely affecting his children's self-concepts, rock on, dude.

I encourage readers across the board to form your own opinions and to do your own research when it comes to things about which you have questions. There is an abundance of research as to how to make the best choices for your children, and while a lot of it is not accessible (that is: readable and understandable to the general public), there are plenty people out there that will help you interpret this information. Go forth, and build humans.



 Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Who Killed My Daughter?

I was a fan of Lois Duncan growing up, so when I saw on Amazon that she wrote Who Killed My Daughter?, an account of her search for answers in her daughters murder, I scooped it up.

Kaitlyn leaves her parents home to visit a friend. Hours later her parents are informed that her daughter has been murdered--shot to death in what appears to be a drive-by shooting as she was sitting at the wheel of her car at a stop light. Lois Duncan, famous young adult author and devoted family woman, doesn't believe that this was random--at least not based on the evidence. She begins a decades-long journey to prove Kaitlyn's boyfriend was behind the murder, and to make the police believe this was more than meets the eye.

This was a truly heartbreaking story--a young woman cut down in her prime, only 18 years old, and because she truly wanted to come clean from the aid she was giving her boyfriend, a member of the Vietnamese mob. I won't get too into specifics here, as you should read the book yourself, but let's just say it involves felonious car accidents and massive payouts. She just wanted to turn around some not-so-great decisions, and instead was hunted down after living in fear.

Duncan wrote this book in as close to real time as possible; not long after the investigation began Duncan started writing this book in hopes that publishing it would bring to light facts that the police were not releasing. Desperately hoping that someone would come forward with information that would corroborate what Kait's family knew to be facts, this book was published in 1992 and the murder remains unsolved to this day. I found the family's initial skepticism and later acceptance of psychics to be really interesting; whether or not I believe is beside the point. It heightens the story and made me think about possibilities outside of the norm.

Kindle on left, hard copy on right.
 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Heaven of Animals: Stories

I have become more enamored of short stories as the years have passed, so I picked up David James Poissant's The Heaven of Animals early this week to make my train ride pass faster. Can you spell W-O-W?

In this collection, David James Poissant explores what we do for those whom we love, be it a friend, a lover, or a family. The collection opens with "Lizard Man," where the narrator agrees to take a loyal friend on a short road trip to see where his estranged father died only to discover whom he, the narrator, doesn't want to become. In "100% Cotton," a man is seeking out death-by-holdup only to find that sometimes you can't get what you want no matter how hard you try. Throughout this book there runs themes of family, of care, of inner psychological torment, of death (both figurative and literal), and of an attempt to right wrongs that may or may not be your fault. How do we seek out redemption when we are not always sure that it's what we want, let alone need?

My absolute favorite story in this collection was "The End of Aaron." A young woman is in love with her high school sweetheart who happens to be on anti-psychotics. When he stops taking his medicine they end up in bed for days with Aaron on a rampage about the world ending. The young woman justifies her love and devotion, even to us in the audience. Mostly, I guess, to us in the audience. In this latest fit, she falls asleep against her better judgement and she may just lose everything for which she lives.

At first I was put off by the young woman and her justification for her choices (which is in itself a sign of great writing), but then I fell intrigued by her situation and the choices she was making. It wasn't just about the justification; she truly loves this boy whom is losing his mind yet depends on her greatly. It's easy to sit back and want to slap her over the head; it takes great pathos on the part of the writer to create a character that has such a deep and desperate want that she is willing to put her own life on the line to achieve it. There was something even beyond desperation in this woman--it was almost as if she was finding a way to forgive herself more than Aaron for his own sickness. Her devotion was pure, but be cautious in loving too much--the cut will ultimately be deep.

I was intrigued by these stories, but I was also strangely moved. Who is this man, who can tug at my heartstrings without my understanding why? This collection points out our need for forgiveness not just from others, but ultimately from ourselves--often the hardest to find and to accept.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Reservation Road: A Novel

I read the follow-up to John Burnham Schwartz's Reservation Road a while back, so I figured it was time to pick up the original.

One summer night, Ethan and his family stop at a gas station near home for a quick break. His son, Josh, is hit while playing in the middle of the road and dies that night. The driver doesn't stop. Ethan is heartbroken and desperately seeks revenge if only he can find his son's killer. Dwight, who was driving the car that hit Josh, lives in despair over what happened that night he was racing to get his own son back to his mother's house. The lives of these two men are on a collision course toward each other and unstable and emotional outcome.

I am a big fan of Schwartz and his heart-wrenching, honest, and painful style of writing. He has this way of sticking a knife into your gut, and just when you think you can live with the pain, he twists it ever so slightly to make you feel unhinged again. So yeah, that was what reading this book felt like.

Dwight and Ethan are both written in first person and are on parallel paths, both fathers in the same town with sons the same age. It even turns out Ethan's daughter takes music lessons from Dwight's ex-wife. The intertwined lives of these characters makes the realization of Dwight's secret all the more painful. Never do these ties seem contrived; rather, they feel very plausible in small-town New England and in a world where people don't lock their doors and know their neighbors by first name.

This book was an emotional roller coaster that I was more than happy to ride with arms in the air. Schwartz's writing grabs you by the lapels and yells in your face; it makes you question what is right and what is wrong when you thought you knew all along. While I may not know what happens in the long run with these men and their families (ignoring that fact that I read Northwest Corner and just focusing on the confines of this book), I do know that the pain of losing a child and that of unknowingly taking someone else's life is indescribable. Schwartz captures this in mere words.

Kindle version on the left, hard copy on the right.
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Tender Land: A Family Love Story

Here I go with the memoirs again--this one is another goodie. Kathleen Finneran's The Tender Land: A Family Love Story stole my heart.

Kathleen's Irish American family is large--three older children, two younger, all happy, healthy, and tight-knit. They are living regular lives until the day one of the youngest, Sean, age 15, commits suicide after a public humiliation. The family reels and attempts to move forward with life, all the while suffering at the hands of a fate that is so unfair and outside of their realm of control. This is the story of an ordinary family forced to face extraordinary circumstances.

I had been in the library queue for this book for what seemed like forever, so of course I soaked up this narrative like it was the juiciest BBQ I could find in the rural South. Finneran has such a beautiful way with words; the way she tells her story makes her family seem relateable yet untouchable all at the same time. I envied the seamless closeness that happened with her younger siblings regardless of the large gap in age, and I admired the love and respect each sibling had for one another regardless of circumstances. The Finnerans are a family in which you just want to be.

You know what's coming; after all, it's the crux of the book. It doesn't make Sean's death hit any less hard. My heart broke for Kathleen and her family when they each received the news; I also became angry at Sean for not reaching out when just a simple request for help could have saved his life. I reeled at the pain of the Finneran family, and I wanted to fast-forward to a time when life would treat them all just a little bit better.

I found a home in that of the Finneran's through this book, and I spent some time with each of them getting to know them through Kathleen's eyes, ears, and words. I am thankful to know the family and for them baring their souls, as Sean deserves to be known in the hearts and minds of those who love him.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Life in Men: A Novel

The weather here has been so horrible lately that I desperately wanted to read something that looked warm. The cover of A Life in Men by Gina Frangello hit the spot. 

Mary and Nix are the best of friends, but their trip to Greece is the beginning of the end for them. Mary, recently diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, heads back to college in the States and Nix heads to a semester abroad in London. The story picks of three years later with Nix gone and Mary a wandering soul, trying to find herself and her place in the world. She finds herself defined by the men in her life, yet she still turns to the dead Nix for guidance. A chance encounter years later leads Mary to understand the truth of that Greece trip, and how she can ultimately learn to accept who she is, what happened, and what life is about.

I really loved Mary as a character. I thought her will to live and push forward even as the most important people in her life are chastising her for not taking "better care of herself" (whatever that is) was strong-willed and made her a force of nature. What I mean by "whatever that is" is that sometimes that can really be a fundamental difference between what the overprotectives in our lives call "taking care of yourself" and what we feel is truly "taking care of ourselves." Mary doesn't want to spend her life living in a bubble, unable to see the world and discover who she is because she is so concerned about dying. She has CF for crying out loud--her life span will already be cut short. Why not get out there, do what she feels pulled to do, and live the short life she has been given? I loved this about her, and it made me feel drawn to her as a character.

What I didn't like about Mary, though, was her desperate seeking of acceptance of men through sex. I felt it took away from the power she gained by putting her foot down and refusing to cave into her disease. I know that humans, and women in particular, as fickle creatures--we stand up in one area and easily cower in another, those who seem so strong and independent find themselves kowtowing to those more forceful in their lives--but I wanted someone a bit stronger in my lead female character. It's the feminist in me. That being said, I stand by my previous appreciation of Mary. 

I was saddened and moved by the discussion of Nix, from the discovery of the circumstances of her death to the realization of what actually happened on that trip to Greece. I found myself wishing that I could have known her before she died--and then I had to remind myself that she wasn't a real character. She is the one that I wanted to see five, ten, twenty years in the future. She was the definition of feisty yet she was still so human--I was thankful that Mary felt the need to live for her. It made the story more emotional and heightened the stakes for the reader. I enjoyed this relationship in the novel and was happy to follow it.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Radiance of Tomorow: A Novel

Think back--maybe it was last month, maybe it was years ago--think back to that one special novel you read, the one that changed who you think you are and what you want to be. Now be prepared to have it squashed, then eclipsed by Ishmael Beah's Radiance of Tomorrow.

In postwar Sierra Leone, people are returning to their homes after running for their lives--and they are the lucky ones. Those who return to the village of Imperi, rebuild their lives, their homes, and their school. A new community is formed, headed up by Benjamin and Bockarie, two teachers at the school who become the staid leaders of Imperi. The money is scarce, and when a foreign company comes in to mine their land, their land and their homes are destroyed beyond repair among other tragedies such as rape, murder, and dangerous living conditions. How does a community thrive when everything they know is no longer theirs?

I am honestly not sure that I have read another book that holds the depth of the human resilient spirit so close to its heart. I was beyond blown away by the ease of Beah's prose; it was like drinking a cool glass of water after a long day in the heat and the sun. It was like a precious gift that was bestowed upon me, one that I didn't ask for yet it was everything I never knew I always wanted. What a journey, and what an absolute treasure. I felt as though reading this book on the subway was a secret that I had from all my fellow riders. They had no clue what I had in my hand--it felt like the Crown Jewels in storytelling format.

There are so many moments in this book that just blew me away. When I read of a young man named Abu who went to great lengths to go to school, I almost cried with joy. How ofter we take for granted the privilege of an education when others across the world are begging for the honor. We cry and moan about getting up to go to work when others are thankful for the opportunity to provide for their families, as in Benjamin's and Bockarie's cases when they find out they have an opportunity to make more money--as an unforeseen cost to them both. How annoyed we get at our families when we just want to be left alone when so many around the world would give a limb to have theirs back--and the passing down of stories is no burden, rather an honor, as when Mama Kadie shares the history of Imperi with the children who survived the war yet have known no other way. How incredible these stories are; how incredibly the steadfastness in the belief of the radiance of tomorrow.

I had the distinct honor of meeting Mr. Beah at MashReads last week. What an honor it was. I don't count myself as someone who is starstruck very often; in fact, I can tell you all of the times. I was so nervous to ask this incredible man about his story as he was so eloquent and thoughtful in all his responses. He is an incredible humanitarian and a lovely person, and the insight he gave into his book was amazing.

What I took most out of the meeting was the meaning behind the radiance of tomorrow--that tomorrow is another day, and it will bring joy. No matter what has happened today, we go to sleep finding the simple joy of the day. It's how we survive and find a way to thrive. Mr. Beah said it best: "We don't write for those who make history; we write for those who suffer history." What an incredible honor for which I couldn't be more grateful.

A reminder about MashReads and the amazing folks at Mashable who make me an even happier bibliophile than I could ever ask to be. I really want to encourage you to head to their Goodreads group, follow the hashtag #mashreads on Twitter or Instagram in order to join in their book discussions, follow @mashlifestyle, and if you are in the area and are interested in attending their latest book club, reach out via the Twitter hashtag! They are so wonderful, and you should join in! 

Get this book for yourself. Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.