Ever since I finished this book I can't stop thinking about it. I started reading it just before Kim Jong-il's death, and reading it during the countr...moreEver since I finished this book I can't stop thinking about it. I started reading it just before Kim Jong-il's death, and reading it during the country's period of mourning made it all the more poignant. I'd heard some things about North Korea in passing, but the details in this book absolutely stunned me. An entire generation physically stunted, and millions dead, due to malnutrition because Kim Jong-il wouldn't let aid workers pass out rations outside the government-approved capital. Prison camps. Children picking kernels of corn from animal feces and washing it in the river so that they could have something, anything, to eat. Deprivation in the form of speech, dress, faith, food, money - every basic human right we can think of as citizens of a first-world country. The end of the book details the escapes to China, Mongolia and South Korea of a handful of people. Once in South Korea (always through illegal means), North Korean citizens are granted political asylum and are given $20,000 to start their life over, along with a two-month intensive course on how to live in the "real" world. How to use an ATM; what the Internet is; what the real history of the rest of the world is - these are just scratching the surface of the things they all needed to be taught. The people of North Korea have lived hard lives, and this book was equal parts horrifying and fascinating. It opened my eyes to a country filled with so many good people yet so many problems. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.(less)
This is an outstanding book of testimonies on love and all its forms. Rarely do I read a book straight through in one night, but I couldn't put this o...moreThis is an outstanding book of testimonies on love and all its forms. Rarely do I read a book straight through in one night, but I couldn't put this one down! StoryCorps set up booths all over the country and recorded 40-minute conversations between people - friends, family, lovers - to record anything they wanted to say to each other, whether it's interview questions, the telling of a story or the professing of love to one another. "Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress." (StoryCorps.org/about)
All There Is, is separated into three sections: Found (how couples found and fell in love), Lost (couples who lost love, usually through death), and Found At Last (about those who assumed they would never find love but eventually did).
It is truly inspiring to know that ordinary people from all over the world can be made extraordinary through their love stories. Many stories in these pages I will never forget, and I will continue to strive to find the love in my own life that these people did. We all deserve a great love story.(less)
I absolutely loved this book. Heft is about a depressed, alcohol-addicted mother and her athletic son; a former teacher-turned-overweight recluse; a p...moreI absolutely loved this book. Heft is about a depressed, alcohol-addicted mother and her athletic son; a former teacher-turned-overweight recluse; a pregnant young house cleaner; and over-privileged high school students. It's about being so overweight that you don't leave your house for a decade. It's about trying to overcome the parents and the neighborhood and the economic circumstances you were born into. It's about some people giving up on life, and about others who refuse to. Every character in this book is dealing with his or her own struggles, and at times it seems outrageous that they're all interconnected and crossing paths. But just like in real life, every person who crosses our path does so for a reason, and those reasons can sometimes leave lasting impressions on the rest of our lives.
It's been a very long time since I connected with and cared about characters as much as I did for the ones in Heft. Liz Moore has a gift for making these characters come to life. I raced through almost the entire book in a couple days, but I had to put it down with 40 pages left because I didn't want to say goodbye to Arthur and Kel. I thought the ending could have been drawn out a little longer, but I suppose sometimes it's better to let the reader's imagination decide what happens to the characters in the future. I have a feeling I'll be wondering about them for a long time. It was truly a pleasure to read this novel, and I look forward to reading other works by Moore.(less)