There are some really horrific parts of this book - some hideous animal abuse that should never take place, let alone in front of little kids. I haveThere are some really horrific parts of this book - some hideous animal abuse that should never take place, let alone in front of little kids. I have a hard time understanding how any mother could not see the red flags that would raise and would allow such horrible acts of cruelty to take place and not immediately have concern for her kids. I hope that society is doing a better job of educating people about the links between animal abuse, domestic abuse, and very violent killings/serial killers. It doesn't always lead to serial killing, of course, but it almost inevitably progresses from animals to humans and so any animal abuse is a red flag. Apparently no one in this girl's family took it as such.
Much of what Ms. Moore went through is a crappy childhood anyone could have had, but hers has this extra layer of creepy due to her dad's killings - albeit she didn't always know about them, she knew he was somehow "off."
Overall this was a very interesting book by someone in a very unusual situation. The only negative was a very religious twist at the end - blech. While I can respect everyone's religious choices, including the author's, the book just becomes preachy and almost unreadable when that phase of her life is discussed. Overlook that and it's decent....more
The story is compelling despite the fact that the writing isn't great. Sold into slavery by her parents at age 8, to satisfy a family debt, young ShyiThe story is compelling despite the fact that the writing isn't great. Sold into slavery by her parents at age 8, to satisfy a family debt, young Shyima has to deal with very harsh conditions and extreme loneliness and abandonment issues. The family she "works" for and serves moves to the US and arranges for her to come with them. In the US, authorities are tipped off to an unusual situation and she is freed, but then has no family and no education and no socialization. Her struggle to gain the skills she needs is complicated by the fact that most of the humans she ends up with take advantage of her. Her personal journey is an interesting one and given what she's been through, one can't reasonably expect her to be a great storyteller - overlook that and take value from her story....more
Overall, there is interesting material here - but it would have been better if the letters could have been included with a few explanations instead ofOverall, there is interesting material here - but it would have been better if the letters could have been included with a few explanations instead of the author trying to take the letters and "rewrite" what happened. Basically two girls spend a year in Colorado and this is the story of that year, with some background on the girls and some of what they do after the year in Colorado. As for the year itself, there is a lot of detail on their daily lives and in that sense it is an interesting slice of history. However, the actual letters would I think have been more compelling. If you like true stories of the old west, you'll find it interesting....more
I had seen an interview with an Africa boy with a very similar story, having lived with monkeys for a number of years when he was a small child, and wI had seen an interview with an Africa boy with a very similar story, having lived with monkeys for a number of years when he was a small child, and wanted to read the details of this similar story. As a very young girl, just about to turn five, Marina lives with a troop of monkeys in the forest. This story is as told to her daughter and researched by the family and then written by a ghostwriter. It's a great story, well told, and I was disappointed when it ended. (Supposedly there could be another volume but not yet). I was surprised that not all of the story takes place in the jungle, but life with the monkeys was in many ways better than the life Marina has when she makes her way back to humans. Her observations about the forest are understandably childlike, but she is very lucky that she is able to have the monkeys for companionship and more importantly, as models for what it is safe to eat in the forest. When I visited the Amazon, my guide told me that if you are ever lost in the forest, watch what monkeys eat because what is safe for those primates is safe for human primates to eat. I had never thought about that, since I don't live where there are monkeys, but as a little girl following the monkeys and watching what they eat is basically what saved a girl otherwise too young to make it on her own. She is afraid but resourceful, and makes the best of a terrible situation. Her lief story once she leaves the monkey troop is harrowing in other ways, but how she copes with it based on the life skills she learned in the forest is interesting. Overall it was a fascinating and enjoyable read....more
I admit I knew nothing about Leah Remini other than her role on King of Queens, which was a very funny show. I had previously been very interested inI admit I knew nothing about Leah Remini other than her role on King of Queens, which was a very funny show. I had previously been very interested in "Beyond Belief" which was a very well done book about growing up in Scientology, and wanted another perspective. While Ms. Remini's experience was different than the other author's, the experiences had a lot of common threads and I don't know how anyone could read either book and still call Scientology a "church" rather than a cult of exploitation. Since Scientologist's rely so heavily on Hollywood types like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley, this book is especially interesting because another successful Hollywood actress got to the inner circle of Scientology, and truly believed in it, but became (for good reason) disillusioned and publicly left. There is no question this book took courage to write and it was interesting how such a strong personality/person could be so drawn to the "church" but the book explains why. Overall, a very enjoyable read and if you are interested in learning about Scientology or how people are drawn into and controlled by cults, this is a good book....more
I've always meant to read this classic and just recently got around to it. It's a classic for good reason; action and adventure. The characters are inI've always meant to read this classic and just recently got around to it. It's a classic for good reason; action and adventure. The characters are interesting and the story is told in a way that keeps you turning the pages. An easy, quick read as well....more
This was a very interesting book about an American woman who falls in love with Africa and has dedicated her life to helping Africans help themselves.This was a very interesting book about an American woman who falls in love with Africa and has dedicated her life to helping Africans help themselves. First, as someone who has also visited many countries in Africa and loved them dearly, I was interested in how she made her dream of living there a reality and how she overcame obstacles to do so. She observed, as anyone can, how often NGO efforts fail in Africa because the local people are not directly involved and taking ownership of the well-intentioned but too often destined to fail foreign aid projects. She develops methods where the local people decide for themselves what they want to accomplish and the projects succeed in the long term.
One of the topics that women end up raising and discussing is what we call female genital mutilation, or "cutting" and removing the clitoris and/or labia of young girls. In Senegal, as in many Africa countries, this was a common traditional practice but there were negative health consequences which were not being discussed and about which there was no education. This book goes into detail about how, one community at a time, communities decided to abandon this practice and how the movement grew. It was largely the work and decision making of the Senagalese women, and then the men of their communities, and not foreign valued being imposed, and perhaps that is why the process was so successful.
Granted, there are some hard things to hear about in a book that talks so candidly about "the practice" but it is well done. Overall the process of change was fascinating, and it is ongoing. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in other cultures, Africa, nonprofit work, and/or educational methodologies....more
I try to read all the true stories of Holocaust survivors that I can. This one was a bit different than most because of the attitude of the author. HeI try to read all the true stories of Holocaust survivors that I can. This one was a bit different than most because of the attitude of the author. He is always an optimist, and all things considered, has a lot of lucky breaks along the way, which is of course how he ended up surviving such a horrific ordeal. He manages to stay with other members of his family until very nearly the end, but he is the only one who makes it out. Like all survivors of that terrible tragedy who tell their tale, his is harrowing, and it is well worth reading....more
This is a really stunningly good book. You can easily learn the basic facts elsewhere - how Martin was trapped unable to move or communicate for 12 yeThis is a really stunningly good book. You can easily learn the basic facts elsewhere - how Martin was trapped unable to move or communicate for 12 years, but conscious and aware of what went on around him. Having all that time locked in his own mind could have driven him insane, or he could have permanently checked out from the world, or ceased caring. Instead, eventually someone discovers he is aware, he is not in a vegetative state, and eventually proves it to others - so he begins the long journey of finding a way to communicate and re-engaging in the world.
My admiration for Martin and for his family knows no bounds. His emotional insights, his ability to observe and distill aspects of the world he spent years observing, and his incredible choice to share with everyone what he went through in this book - with a spectrum of highs and lows most people will never know themselves - are all moving.
Your life will be richer for having read this book, no matter who you are. I am sure I will re-read it to remind myself of many things. I lack words to express how incredible Martin is as a person, and how incredible his father is as well. This book is in many ways an incredible love story. The love of Martin's family, the compassion of a particular caregiver, the love of the woman he eventually marries - all are amazing true stories. Martin has a great way with words and his insights are lovely. I hope he will write more in the future. He endured a hell no one can imagine, and came out stronger instead of destroyed - what a remarkable man....more
This is a true story about a woman's struggles and experiences in Canada when it was still a colony of the British, not long after the Civil War. AlthThis is a true story about a woman's struggles and experiences in Canada when it was still a colony of the British, not long after the Civil War. Although the style of writing in a bit outdated, and there is a lot of poetry I didn't particularly like so I skipped over it, for the most part I thought this was a very interesting read about the daily struggles and observations of early Canadian settlers. ...more