After a happy childhood in a Sierra Leone village, Mariatu Kamara's life took a tragic turn in 1999. The innocent girl was raped by an older man in he...moreAfter a happy childhood in a Sierra Leone village, Mariatu Kamara's life took a tragic turn in 1999. The innocent girl was raped by an older man in her village. Then rebels attacked during the Civil War, killing and torturing people. The cruel rebels, many just young boy soldiers, hacked off both of her hands before heading out to destroy the next village. Twelve-year-old Mariatu managed to walk miles to get help, and found that several of her cousins had met the same fate.
Mariatu tells how they coped in an amputee village, going out begging in the streets so they could buy food. Relatives stayed with them in the tent village, cooking and caring for them. Mariatu's story had been publicized by journalists, and she was eventually helped by generous people in England and Canada. She learned English in Toronto, eventually attended college, and became a UNICEF representative.
The book was written in simple language, and would be suitable for high school students and adults. Mariatu does not go into graphic detail about her injuries so even squeamish people should be able to read this book. I wish she had gone into a little more detail about how she adapted to living without the use of hands, and whether she finally decided to use prosthetic devices. I also would have found it interesting if she had included a little more about the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). Although Mariatu probably did not know anything about the politics of the Civil War as a child, she was a college student when she wrote the book with a journalist.
The Bite of the Mango was an inspirational story about a resilient girl. I admire the work she was doing as a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts. She was spreading the word about the conditions in Sierra Leone, trying to obtain help for other victims.(less)
Have you ever wondered where King Arthur was born according to legend? Or where Elizabeth Barrett resided in a darkened room because her tyrannical fa...moreHave you ever wondered where King Arthur was born according to legend? Or where Elizabeth Barrett resided in a darkened room because her tyrannical father thought that an accident had made her an incurable invalid? Would you like to see the old farmhouse that was a model for Heathcliff and Cathy's home in Wuthering Heights? This book has fifty large black and white photographs of English literary landmarks by photographer David Scherman, along with some descriptive text by Richard Wilcox and a literary quotation for each.
Life Magazine had a picture essay on literary England in their June 14, 1943 issue. (No, I'm not old enough to remember that issue!) This book is the expansion of that article. Seventy years later, I'm hoping that these wonderful literary landmarks are still being preserved.
James Agee was only six years old when his young father died in an automobile accident. "A Death in the Family" is an autobiographical novel of that s...moreJames Agee was only six years old when his young father died in an automobile accident. "A Death in the Family" is an autobiographical novel of that sad time with much of the novel seen through a child's eyes. The novel was unfinished when James Agee also died at a young age. His editor had to decide where to place several gorgeously written flashback scenes of happier days for the family so that they would not detract from the main story.
The beginning of the novel shows the love between Jay and his son Rufus. They go to a Charlie Chaplin movie together, and walk home in comfortable, quiet companionship. "It was, mainly, knowing that his father, too, felt a particular kind of contentment, here, unlike any other, and that their kinds of contentment were much alike, and depended on each other." The first part also shows the caring and commitment in the relationship between Jay and his wife Mary.
The second part involves Mary receiving a phone call that her husband has been in an accident. Mary sends out her brother to find out what happened, while she and her aunt wait in the kitchen, fearing the worst. After she gets the tragic news, she asks God to forgive her for her grieving. Other supportive family members are upset that Mary turns so much to religion since they do not have the same beliefs, but she finds comfort in the ritual of prayer.
The third part show Rufus and his little sister trying to understand death and religion. They feel very alone with their mother constantly praying, and the presence of a cold priest further isolates them.
Agee's writing is beautiful poetic prose, very detailed with gorgeous imagery. He gets into the minds of the characters so the reader can feel all their emotions--love, fear, doubt, hatred, shame, confusion, and more. This is a sensitive look at a family dealing with life and death.
More about James Agee and his family: Agee also wrote a shorter autobiographical novel, The Morning Watch , about his years at an Episcopalian school in Tennessee. His spiritual life and religious questioning are an important part of this book as well.(less)
3.5-4 stars The mouths of foodies will be watering as they read this novel about the fictional Hassan Haji's life. After his family's restaurant was de...more3.5-4 stars The mouths of foodies will be watering as they read this novel about the fictional Hassan Haji's life. After his family's restaurant was destroyed in Mumbai, his father took the family to Europe to distance himself from the tragedy. A few years later, their car breaks down in the French village of Lumiere, a beautiful setting near the Alps, and they decide to stay.
Hassan's bearlike, boisterous father opens a casual Indian restaurant across the street from the award-winning Le Saule Pleureur, owned by Madame Mallory. The two colorful restaurant owners wage war until an accident lands Hassan in the hospital. Madame Mallory regrets her attitude, and takes Hassan on as an apprentice in her elegant French restaurant. Hassan crosses the road in a "hundred-foot journey" from Indian to fine French cuisine. This is the beginning of an exciting career for Hassan who was born with an exceptional culinary gift.
The story was infused with the smells and sights of both the Indian and French kitchens. Temperamental chefs are a source of humor in the story. Food critics and the Michelin star system add immense pressure to the job of a chef. Although I would love to fly to Paris for a restaurant tour, I think I will have to settle for seeing the movie based on this charming book. The movie, starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri, and Manish Dayal, will be opening in August 2014.(less)
The Norwegian ambassador, a friend of the Prime Minister, has been found in a Bangkok motel/brothel with a knife in his back. The Norwegian government...moreThe Norwegian ambassador, a friend of the Prime Minister, has been found in a Bangkok motel/brothel with a knife in his back. The Norwegian government has requested that detective Harry Hole fly to Thailand to work on the case with the Thai police. Why was the depressed alcoholic Hole chosen? There are politicians that want to cover up the sordid details, and they feel the self-destructive Hole will be too busy drowning his sorrows to do a thorough investigation. But Harry sobers up, and looks deeply into the dealings of a group of corrupt Norwegian expats. The fast-paced plot has lots of twists and turns as Hole ferrets out the murderer.
The story shows lots of local color in the seedy streets of Bangkok--the world of prostitutes, drug dealers, opium dens, and pornographers. Traffic is out of control as drivers muscle their way through congested roads like a swarm of insects.
Harry found cockroaches in his room. He had "read that they hide when they hear the vibrations of someone approaching and that for every cockroach you can see there are at least ten hiding. That meant they were everywhere." It seemed that society's "cockroaches" were also everywhere in the corrupt underworld.
Cockroaches is the second Harry Hole novel. The series of books by Jo Nesbo was translated into English starting with the third book, The Redbreast. His first two books, The Bat and Cockroaches, were translated later, and give the reader some of the back story of the damaged detective.