This great book tells two stories. It begins in World War II, in which the crash of a B-17 in Greenland in November of 1942 turns into an epic operatiThis great book tells two stories. It begins in World War II, in which the crash of a B-17 in Greenland in November of 1942 turns into an epic operation involving multiple planes and the stranding of a group of survivors on the ice for months. The second half comes from the present day and relates the author's experience with the United States Coast Guard and a group of polar experts, as they attempt to locate and recover a Grumman Duck, one of the planes involved in the initial rescue operation from the war. I've been fascinated with stories of polar expeditions since I was nine years old and picked up a Reader's Digest Condensed version of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's book, Alone (I can imagine this book like it was yesterday; it had a green cover and included versions of My Friend Flicka and Jane Eyre). Mitchell Zuckoff's book is another great addition to polar literature. ...more
".....I sat.....and listened to them talk and laugh, knowing I would never be a part of it. I would always be separate, thinking about what expression".....I sat.....and listened to them talk and laugh, knowing I would never be a part of it. I would always be separate, thinking about what expression my face was making, what people thought of me. Observing other peoples' weaknesses and flaws---their big thighs and crooked teeth and acne, their lack of confidence, their fear. I would always think the worst about people and it would keep me from them because I couldn't accept myself."
The Last Days of California tells the story of Jess, a teenage girl on a road trip with her sister and parents in anticipation of the Rapture. Though they are devout evangelical Christians, this is one family that won't win any awards for wholesomeness; their problems include teenage pregnancy, financial ruin, gambling, and reckless consumption of alcohol. On their way to California, they make their way through a South that is very familiar to many of us: sleazy truck stops, Waffle Houses (comforting in their sameness), dusty roadside flea markets with their depressing piles of junk, and small towns that have been left to die a slow death when their factories departed for cheaper locations overseas. This is a physical journey, but also an emotional and psychological one for Jess. She is slowly making her way out of the self-absorption that paralyzes most teenagers (and let's face it, most adults) and getting a glimpse of the inner lives of other people. What she finds, however, is often pretty confusing. Her own painful need to connect with others and be loved is reflected back to her by the adults she observes. Realizing that these people still don't have it figured out after so many years is frightening, but there is hope, starting with Jess and her own screwed-up little family. She is becoming aware of the terrible flaws in herself and the people around her, but she is also beginning to see that love and understanding are possible in spite of this. Speaking for myself, I think that is one of the most crucial concepts a person can grasp: understand and accept our imperfections, and never stop trying to connect. If Jess is seeing this at age fourteen, I think she's going to be okay.
I enjoyed this debut novel from Mississippi native Mary Miller, and I am look forward to seeing her growth as a writer. ...more
Have you ever been young? Have you ever been head over heels in love? Have you ever been head over heels in love with someone who tore out your heartHave you ever been young? Have you ever been head over heels in love? Have you ever been head over heels in love with someone who tore out your heart and stomped that sucker flat? Do you love books? Do you love books more than life itself? Do you love a *certain* book more than life itself? Have you ever felt the thrill of sharing that *certain* book with someone you really, really like? Have you ever lost someone close to you? Have you ever lost someone close to you from cancer? Have you ever been seriously ill, disappointed, mad at the world, afraid of death? Have you ever tried to hide your pathetic human loserhood behind a barricade of sarcasm and verbal swordplay?
Have you ever been to Amsterdam?
If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, then this book is for you. It is gorgeous, sad, hilarious, and full of TRUTH.
"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world.....but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices."...more
This is an outstanding book. Every healthcare provider should read it. What would you do if you were trapped in a hospital during a disaster? How do yThis is an outstanding book. Every healthcare provider should read it. What would you do if you were trapped in a hospital during a disaster? How do you care for critical patients when it appears that the rest of the world has forgotten you, or are unable to help? After Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, I promised myself that I would not depend on the government for rescue if I were ever caught in a catastrophe. This book reinforces that decision for me. It is also sickening to read how the corporate greed of Baptist Memorial's parent company and the detachment of their executives led to delays in evacuation and procurement of aid for patients and staff. This really isn't surprising to anyone who works in healthcare today, but it is still disturbing to hear.
My favorite part of the book: during the attempt to evacuate the NICU, a neonatologist did one of the most courageous things I have ever heard described. In the midst of the chaos and disorganization during the uncoordinated helicopter evacuation efforts, he removed a critically ill premature infant from a high frequency oscillatory ventilator and climbed several flights of stairs to Baptist's helipad carrying only the infant, a portable tank of oxygen, and a resuscitation bag. On the helipad, the physician defied a pilot's shouted orders that no infants would be allowed on the flight, instead jumping into the front seat of the helicopter with only the tiny patient and this minimal equipment. He hand-ventilated the baby all the way to Baton Rouge with only his eyes for monitoring. This patient is alive today, thanks to the efforts of this courageous man. I hope that I would have the guts to do the same thing, if I were faced with a similar situation. ...more