What would happen if an alien species came to Earth to try to help humans and animals change their lifestyle in hopes of improving the environment? A What would happen if an alien species came to Earth to try to help humans and animals change their lifestyle in hopes of improving the environment? Author Cary Neeper has developed an interesting fictional story around this premise in “The Alien Effect”.
While this book is one of several the author has written along this vein, I felt that the characters and their circumstances were not clearly defined at the outset of this book. As a newcomer to these stories, I can appreciate that she wants each book to be a stand-alone, yet it was challenging to figure out who was who, how they were all inter-related, and what each character looked like. I got the impression that the author's strong suit is science and theory, but not necessarily clear writing to reach the reader as effectively as she hopes. Another area of confusion was the frequent switching from one narrator to another in the story; although there were some brief notes in the text on this throughout, it still was hard to figure out who was talking sometimes. I also found some of the terminology to be above the common reader's head; unless one was already familiar with this area of study, they might be left wondering what some of the terms refer to. I strongly disagree with a great deal of the author's politics, but this is a book review, not a debate. Her viewpoint is put forward in a rather preachy way. I do not believe that government should be allowed to dictate how many children one has. I also feel that we as humans have a certain wanderlust, and to quelch that by saying we should not travel to other places, but rather stay where we are and rely only on local resources, is denying who we are.
On the plus side, I think the writer delved into some real challenges that we face as we try to balance modern living with preservation of our world for the future. She explored what it might be like if an alien race stopped by and tried to help out. What would the long term effects on our ecosystem be if non-Earth-based life paid us a visit? Surely there would be repercussions, good and bad, and she remarks upon this with brief updates that lead us over a thousand years into the future after her story takes place. I think the characters involved in the main alien family that comes to Earth are basically trying to make positive change, even if I believe their goals are naïve and misguided. I think those on the far left political spectrum would find themselves agreeing with some of what is said in this book. It just isn't a point of view I can agree with. The author has created a strange and unique symbiotic family made of humans and two other alien species, and somehow she makes it work. I think that, more than anything else about this book, would help readers relate as it seems the most human thing about the story. We constantly are adapting and doing the best we can to survive and hopefully, leave something good for our children and grandchildren as we go along each day.
The book was published in December 2014 through Penscript Publishing House. I admire the author's years of research yet respectfully disagree with her educated opinions and theories. ISBN 978-3-62222-012-0. Suggested retail price for the paperback book is $14.95. I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads.com in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Astronaut Mark Watney is part of an incredible mission – to be one of the first people to walk on Mars! Excitement soon turns to danger, though, when Astronaut Mark Watney is part of an incredible mission – to be one of the first people to walk on Mars! Excitement soon turns to danger, though, when a dust storm forces the crew to evacuate the planet, believing that Mark was killed by debris. It's no wonder, then, that the first line of the story ends with an expletive. Mark is in a fine mess, and he'll have to use every scrap of imagination, ingenuity, and engineering expertise he has to try to survive somehow.
This was one of the best stories I've ever read. I found myself re-reading passages, sometimes because Mark's sardonic sense of humor was hysterical, and other times because I was interested in his explanations, based in actual science, of what he was doing as he jerry-rigged equipment to help him survive. From figuring out how to grow his own plot of potatoes, to trying to find a way to contact Earth for help, Mark's incredible time on Mars is fascinating! Of course, he'd rather be home. Can he and NASA figure it out before he runs out of time? Or is he destined to be the only Martian, alone on the red planet?
This novel, written in the author's youth, became a New York Times bestseller and is being made into a major motion picture starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney. Having read the book, I feel like he will be perfect for this character, and I can't wait to see the movie. This is definitely a book I'll be reading again.
The book was published in February, 2014 through Broadway Books. Before that, it was available in segments online, courtesy of the author, who had doubts about how popular this story would become. Well, hopefully the success of the book on the bestseller list, and the upcoming film, have allayed those doubts for this very talented writer. I hope to see more work from him in the future, but if this is the only book he publishes, well played, sir! You could not have done it better. ISBN 978-0-553-41802-6. Suggested retail price is $15.00 in the US or $18.00 in Canada, a bargain for such a great read.
** Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads, and was happy to give it an honest review. **...more
Mia Thermopolis just wants to survive ninth grade, and possibly get a smile from Josh Richter, the cute boy whose locker is next to hers. Yet, she fe Mia Thermopolis just wants to survive ninth grade, and possibly get a smile from Josh Richter, the cute boy whose locker is next to hers. Yet, she feels awkward in her own body, and just can't understand Algebra. Josh doesn't seem to realize she exists. She finds comfort in her best friend, Lilly, and her cat, Fat Louie. She's doing okay until her dad flies into New York from his home in Genovia, a small European country bordering France, and informs her that she is a princess!
Mia is not happy. How could her family keep this secret from her? She doesn't even know how to be a princess! Her strict Grandmere starts her on frustrating “princess lessons” right away. Lilly draws away from her, because Mia is so busy with Grandmere. Josh finally notices her, but is it because he really cares, or is it just because now everyone knows she's a princess? This is a cute and funny coming of age story that is as enjoyable as it is fanciful.
Many have seen the Disney films based on this book and its sequels. The movie was released in 2001 starring Anne Hathaway as Mia, with Julie Andrews as Queen Clarice, her grandmother. Honestly, I think I like the movie better than the book in this case. Still, I'm interested in reading the sequels – there are over a dozen books all together.
I found my used paperback copy on Amazon. This Harper Trophy edition was originally published in 2000. ISBN 0-380-81402-1. Suggested retail was $5.99 US or $8.99 in Canada....more
As a general rule, I steer clear of short story collections. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the stories and essays in “Black Glass”, a recent As a general rule, I steer clear of short story collections. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the stories and essays in “Black Glass”, a recent reprint of Fowler's works, first published in 1998. Each story stood apart as an interesting study in relationships, often with an exploration into feminism. (Yet the author asks questions and invites readers to reach their own conclusion, rather than expect them to accept her personal position on this topic.) Elements of the supernatural, surreal and extraterrestrial are interspersed into people and situations that you could face in everyday life.
Fowler's collection of 15 short works is thought-provoking and original, not quite like anything I've read before. Some touched on historical themes, including the life of Einstein and the Vietnam War. There were surprise endings in a few of the tales. The author's writing style transitioned effortlessly from one scene to another. Each of the distinct works involved the reader immediately and made it interesting to see what was going to happen next.
This new 2015 edition of “Black Glass” was published through Putnam Books. ISBN 978-0-399-17579-4. Suggested retail price for the hardcover edition is $27.95 in the US, or $35.95 in Canada. I really enjoyed the stories, but feel they may not be for everyone. The surprise endings reminded me of O. Henry, while the supernatural elements and questioning of human nature were reminiscent of Stephen King's style. The darker and surreal elements reminded me of Ambrose Bierce's works. All in all, it worked for me! If you are looking for something unique and fascinating, give this collection a try. Karen Joy Fowler is also the New York Times bestselling author of “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves”....more
The recent Disney film, “Saving Mr. Banks”, highlighted the story behind the making of their earlier film, “Mary Poppins”. It touched upon the life o The recent Disney film, “Saving Mr. Banks”, highlighted the story behind the making of their earlier film, “Mary Poppins”. It touched upon the life of the stories' author, P. L. Travers, an odd yet imaginative woman whose contribution to literature, film and culture carries on to this day. In this book, writer Valerie Lawson delves deeper. She, too, describes Helen Lyndon Goff's childhood in Allora, Australia, and her complex relationship with her father, Travers Goff, an alcoholic. Of course, she spends time in her book telling us about the making of the film version of “Mary Poppins”. Yet there is much more to the story.
Pamela, as P.L. Travers preferred to be known, was probably not someone who would be fun to have a conversation with. She was sharp and snobby, and very demanding. Valerie Lawson shares with us everything from Pamela's spiritual beliefs to her adoption of her son, Camillus, a twin, whose brother she left behind. We learn about her time as a writer in residency on the college scene, and how she herself managed to sabotage her own attempts to be accepted by the students, with her brusque manner. Lawson does not ask us to like Travers, but does justice to her life by giving us a well-rounded picture of who she was and why.
I enjoyed reading it and learning more about the creator of Mary Poppins. The book was originally published in 1999. (Travers passed away in 1996). The copy I found was a paperback reprint through Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4767-6292-0. Suggested retail price was $16 US or $18.99 in Canada....more
Akakiba is a demon hunter from the fox clan. He and his apprentice, Yuki, travel the countryside to protect the people. Yet they see a strange trend Akakiba is a demon hunter from the fox clan. He and his apprentice, Yuki, travel the countryside to protect the people. Yet they see a strange trend – sometimes, the people fight them! Before long, they realize that the demons, weakened in the physical world, need host bodies, and are creating armies using local villagers. How can the warriors and their allies defend the people, when the people's enemy is within?
Besides being a story of a supernatural battle, this is also the story of the relationship between Akakiba and Yuki. The fox clan's ability to shape shift and even change from their birth gender lends itself well to a story whose audience includes the GLBT community. This is also a tale about the family dynamics within the fox clan, and Akakiba's relationships with his father, mother and sister, who seem excited and pleased that he has found Yuki.
I have never read a YA GLBT themed book before. I thought the theme was subtly interwoven throughout the text in a positive way. Intimacy and attraction were hinted at, without any graphic scenes that are unnecessary in a book geared towards teenage readers. I enjoyed the story line and reading about the conflicts that the different characters dealt with. They were easy to relate to.
The book was published in October 2012 through Musa Publishing. It is the first book in the Kitsuna Trilogy. ISBN 978-1-61937-832-2. You can find out more about the author and her books, including this series, here: http://www.annafrost.ca/...more
Leong Ying was born in the early 1960s to a poor family in Singapore. Eventually, his family made its way to England, where they opened up a fish and Leong Ying was born in the early 1960s to a poor family in Singapore. Eventually, his family made its way to England, where they opened up a fish and chips shop. As he grew, the young man's beliefs began to change. Ultimately, through his studies of physics, he pondered the idea of the Twin Universe. This book, described by the publisher as a “poetic memoir”, is the author's own telling of his life and his beliefs, through rhymed verse.
Whether or not you agree with the author's revelatory beliefs, one thing you can count on is for this book to give you a glimpse into his cultural background. He shares what it was like as a young boy from Singapore to grow up in English schools, often the only child of a different race in the classroom. He also talks about how his family's Chinese side influenced his upbringing and beliefs. Like most young people, as he matured and furthered his education, he developed his own viewpoint. Interspersed among the pages of poetry are photographs from the author's life story.
While his poetry may not always be textbook smooth, it is poetry after all, and as such should be in the author's own personal style. It actually took some creativity to find a way to rhyme certain scientific terms, and some of the wordplay reveals the writer's wry wit. Had I been walking through a bookstore, browsing, I probably would not have picked this one up and taken it home. However, upon reading a copy so that I could share this review with you, I am happy to have had the chance to hear this story. I think there is always so much we can learn from another person's experiences, especially if they are so different from our own upbringing.
This book was just published January 13, 2015 by Emerald Book Company. ISBN 978-1-937110-71-0. An e-book is also available. Suggested retail price in the US is $18.95....more
When I had the opportunity to review this title, published in February, 2015 by Chicago Review Press, I was interested for two main reasons. First, I When I had the opportunity to review this title, published in February, 2015 by Chicago Review Press, I was interested for two main reasons. First, I love a good baseball story! Secondly, while I enjoy the game, I am not a devout fan, and I had not heard of Joe Black. When I learned of this new title, I could tell this biography would be an interesting story. Indeed, it is well written by sports writer Chuck Schoffner, along with Joe's own daughter, Martha Jo Black. Her personal memories are aptly placed throughout the book, enriching her father's life story.
Joe Black was, as the title says, so much more than a Brooklyn Dodger. Yes, he had a remarkable first season, after a lot of hard work in the Negro League and the farm teams. Once Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, the door was open to Joe and his colleagues to have their shot at the Majors. Yet, after that first stellar year, Joe met with confusion when his coach tried to alter his pitching style, and later faced physical injuries in his throwing arm that effectively ended his major league career. While he continued to love the game and participate in exhibition games, he had to move on in his career.
In particular, I enjoyed reading the account of Joe's career as a teacher. He had a big heart but took no nonsense, and was able to reach the kids that other teachers sometimes struggled to deal with. He later became a representative for the Greyhound company, reaching out to the African American community on their behalf. He was able to help break down racial barriers that still held strong during and after the 1960s. Joe later returned to his beloved baseball, working with the Arizona Diamondbacks when that team was formed in the 1990s.
The only fault I found with this book is that the time line jumps back and forth quite a bit. It was a little tricky to keep up at times. Otherwise it is very well written and the storytelling is compelling. While my eyes tended to glaze over a bit at some of the game stats and play-by-plays, since I am more of a casual spectator, the avid ball fan will surely be excited by these re-enactments in the hands of the skillful author. The book is rich with historical significance, not just of the life of this one man, but of Negro League ball, and the struggle that African Americans faced in trying to play organized sports for a living.
The hardcover edition of this title has a suggested retail price of $27.95 in the US, or $33.95 in Canada. ISBN 978-0-8973-753-3. I enjoyed learning about this man who I had not previously heard of. He not only was a gentleman of distinction who deserves respect and recognition, but also a man who made important strides in the history of America. This book is a fitting tribute....more
If ever a book's subtitle was going to grab you, this one certainly did the trick! “Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from its Violent History” If ever a book's subtitle was going to grab you, this one certainly did the trick! “Rescuing the World's Favorite Beverage from its Violent History” . . . what a statement. Tea, justice, and a violent history? Just the title of this book gets you thinking. Yet, like so many things, it is what is seen when you look beyond the outside that holds so much meaning.
Becca Stevens runs Thistle Farms, a safe place for recovering women to work and earn fair wages under good working conditions. Survivors of abuse, addiction, and prostitution, these courageous women have found new hope through Stevens' Magdalene residential ministry. Today, they join her in growing and selling natural products, and work in the new Thistle Stop Cafe, opened in 2013.
In “The Way of Tea and Justice”, Reverend Stevens shares with us how tea has played a vital role in cultures around the world for thousands of years. Sadly, however, local workers, often women, were taken advantage of, forced to live in fear and poverty while trying to provide for their families. She shares her faith and how, even when things look bleak, there is always hope. She asserts that we should make more time to just sit with a cup of tea and ponder our lot, or simply just take a few minutes away from the stresses that command our attention throughout the day. She starts each section of her book with a recipe for a different type or flavor of tea to try at home.
This book was released in November, 2014, and I found it fascinating. As a survivor of both childhood abuse from a brother, and an abusive first husband, I can relate to how the women of Thistle Farms must feel as they look to their futures, with hope for themselves and their children and grandchildren. If I am ever in Tennessee, I hope to visit the Thistle Stop Cafe, and share a cup of tea with these remarkable women. The book was published through Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group, ISBN: 9781455519026. Suggested retail price is $22.00. ...more
Most readers are familiar with the adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson. Few, however, know much about the man himself, or his family life. Nanc Most readers are familiar with the adventure tales of Robert Louis Stevenson. Few, however, know much about the man himself, or his family life. Nancy Horan delvesis bo into what made the man behind those stories we enjoyed as children, in this historical fiction novel. Further, while the famous writer is certainly a major focus, the author's wife, Fanny, is at the epicenter of this particular story. We see him through her eyes.
Stevenson was a lonely man beset by frequent illness. Fanny was a mother forced to flee her philandering husband. He was moody, she was a force to be reckoned with. Each had a strong love for the other, despite any differences. Both had a passion for travel, even to lands the modern world had little knowledge of. They eventually settled on an island in the South Pacific, where Stevenson eventually died and was buried. His grave remains a tourist spot to this day.
In this novel, I was excited to learn more about one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed the strong character of Fanny, and I loved how the author was not afraid to show the weaknesses of either of these two people. Fanny and her family dealt with her mental illness as she grew older, a topic that so often is not expressed in today's society and often treated as taboo, rather than treated, period! I was glad that that was not brushed over in the story.
If you have ever enjoyed Stevenson's pirate or tropical island tales, you'll truly take pleasure in the true adventure – the life he lived that inspired those stories, coupled with his vivid imagination. This book was released in January, 2014 through Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-51654-1. Suggested retail price was $16.00 in the US or $19.00 in Canada. I quite enjoyed this one....more
Meg Flather loved make up and performing from the time she was a little girl. In her book, “Home Shopping Diva”, she shares with us her journey from Meg Flather loved make up and performing from the time she was a little girl. In her book, “Home Shopping Diva”, she shares with us her journey from directing plays on her back porch to eventually finding success selling high-end cosmetics on popular home shopping networks. It was a long road to get there, though, and she has so many other talents that helped to make her who she is. She is courageous enough to share with us not only her shining moments, but also a few stumbling blocks along the way.
Each one of us has our own unique journey in life. Meg's story is proof that it isn't necessarily the things that have happened to us that determine our destiny, but rather, how we choose to deal with our past so that we can find fulfillment in the present and future. In between each section of her story, she includes song lyrics that she has written, inspired by the events in her life. Perhaps her words will inspire you as well.
The book was published October 30, 2013. ISBN 9781492870517. What I enjoyed most about this memoir was reading about someone who was very different than I am, yet who seemed to learn many of the same life lessons over the years as I have....more
The holidays are coming to the Juniper Court apartments! As each family celebrates their own traditions of faith, they find they need a candle. All t The holidays are coming to the Juniper Court apartments! As each family celebrates their own traditions of faith, they find they need a candle. All the superintendent has is one lumpy old used candle, so it will just have to do. The little candle is passed around from one family to the next, until at last everyone comes together to welcome the newest family to the building during a power outage. That little candle may not look like much, but it brings light and joy to everyone before the story is through.
This is a delightful book to share with children during the holiday season, no matter what your cultural background or holiday traditions. In fact, it can serve as an excellent way to help your kids (and maybe even you) learn more about other people's heritage and how they celebrate during the holidays. I shared this with my first grader, who is a good reader. She was able to make out some of the words but this was advanced enough that I had to read it to her, rather than let her tackle it herself. Even so, by enjoying a more challenging book together, it helps her pick up on new vocabulary words and more advanced sentence structures.
The illustrations were beautifully done by Stacey Schuett, showcasing the contrast between light and dark that was such a large part of the story. This book releases in just two days (November 11, 2014)! It is published by Creston Books, LLC. ISBN 978-1-939547-10-1. Suggested retail price is $16.95 for this lovely hardcover edition. My six year old could barely stand to let me keep the book handy so I could write this review. She wants it back so she can enjoy it on her own! This book truly captures the joy, hope and love that are part of the holiday season, no matter how you celebrate these in your own family....more
Emily is a precocious young girl growing up in Washington, D.C., at the turn of the century. The year is 1908, and her Papa is a skilled blacksmith, Emily is a precocious young girl growing up in Washington, D.C., at the turn of the century. The year is 1908, and her Papa is a skilled blacksmith, creating beautiful carriages in his workshop. Emily loves to be there, watching the workmen and helping with small tasks, but her mother is determined to turn her into a lady. She is especially excited when Papa is commissioned to design and build a majestic carriage for none other than President Teddy Roosevelt!
Yet, times are changing. Motor cars are becoming a more frequent site on the streets of the city. Emily can see that her parents are worried about their future. Carriages may not be needed for much longer. On top of all that pressure, some townsfolk have a problem with one of Papa's hired men, who just happens to be a black man. While he is practically family to Emily and her Papa, prejudice rears its ugly head and nearly destroys the family business in the process! The book also touches on the place of women at the dawn of a new century, fighting for their right to vote.
I enjoyed this middle grade story not only because of the skilled storytelling of the author, but also because Emily is a character that kids today can easily relate to. At twelve years old, she is just beginning to realize that the coziness of her happy home life will not necessarily ensure security in the outside world. Circumstances and people run along, out of our control, and to survive we have to learn to adapt and rely on resourcefulness and creativity. I also am always thrilled when a middle grade reader does not talk down to younger readers. Ms. Jacobson kept the dialogue and vocabulary age appropriate yet just challenging enough to stretch the young reader's mind. There are too many middle school level books that oversimplify words and sentence structure.
This wonderful book was just released September 24, 2014 through Creston Books. ISBN 978-1-939547-13-2. Suggested retail price is $12.99, which is fair and well worth it! I hope to read other books by this author in the future. I am studying to teach English to middle grade students, and will definitely keep this to share with my future students!...more
Mira's mom sends her, her dad, and her brother a postcard featuring Big Ben in London. But her mother isn't just on any trip – she's a time traveler, Mira's mom sends her, her dad, and her brother a postcard featuring Big Ben in London. But her mother isn't just on any trip – she's a time traveler, and so is Mira. Her mom sends her postcards as clues. Mira tries to track down her mom and help her prevent The Horrible Thing that her mom saw in Mira's future. The catch is that they aren't supposed to have any contact with each other while they time travel. There are Rules, and there are Watchers who will punish anyone who goes against those Rules!
This novel was an excellent piece of historical fiction, featuring colorful characters like Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Mrs. Pankhurst, and Beatrix Potter, who Mira met along her way. A large portion of the story dealt with the time period, 1917, and the political climate in London at the time. Zeppelins bombed the city, filling the people with fear. Suffragettes fought for the right to vote, often being imprisoned and force fed. Since this IS Mira's Diary, and she carries her sketchbook everywhere she goes, delightful illustrations of the people and places she sees are peppered throughout the story line and add much to the enjoyment of the book.
However, it also holds great relevance to the teens who will read it – and to their parents. In this particular story, Mira's mom will stop at nothing to protect her daughter from The Horrible Thing. She takes risks she otherwise would be too logical and rational to try. As a mom myself, I can relate to how she feels. As parents, we want to do whatever we can to keep our kids safe. Sometimes, we can get too caught up in trying to protect them, and lose sight of letting them make their own mistakes and live a little so they can grow up and become independent themselves. Maintaining trust, as Mira finds out, is a delicate balance. She finds herself torn between loyalty and love for her mom, and for herself as an individual. I think this is perfect for middle grade and early high school readers, who may feel like they are in a similar predicament.
The book was just published on August 26, 2014 through Worzalla Books. ISBN 978-1-939547-12-5. Suggested retail price is $12.99, a fair and reasonable price when compared to books of similar caliber that are out on the market today. Don't forget to check out the other books in the series, which take Mira to Rome and Paris!...more
Haatchi was a puppy abandoned on a railroad track, losing his hind leg after a train ran over him. Owen was a little boy with a rare genetic disorder Haatchi was a puppy abandoned on a railroad track, losing his hind leg after a train ran over him. Owen was a little boy with a rare genetic disorder that caused his own muscles to tighten to the point of crippling him. This is the remarkable story of each of them, and how they came together to help each other heal and grow. This nonfiction account by Wendy Holden takes readers through their incredible journey of love.
One wonders who could be so cruel as to leave a helpless puppy alone on a railroad track, especially when there is some evidence that the dog may have been tied down! Yet had Haatchi never gone through this horrendous ordeal, he would never have come to find his forever home with Owen, his dad Will, and his stepmom Colleen. This dog, extremely gentle for his species (Anatolian Shepherd), was just the medicine Little B (Owen, Colleen's Little Buddy) needed to come out of his shell and develop self-confidence. With Haatchi around, it no longer bothered Owen much when others might look his way.
The book was released on July 1, 2014 through Thomas Dunne Books. The hardcover edition has a suggested retail price of $22.99. An e-book version is also available. This story will touch your heart and educate you about Owen's rare medical condition. It will show you how difficult – or rather, what a labor of love it is – to raise a dog with special needs, and especially to raise a child who needs round the clock care. May these two best friends have many more blessed years ahead together!...more
Ichmad is a young Palestinian village boy in the 1960s, and his family lives in poverty. He is very smart, though, especially in science and math. Th Ichmad is a young Palestinian village boy in the 1960s, and his family lives in poverty. He is very smart, though, especially in science and math. The local teacher sees his potential and, even though Ichmad and his little brother are forced to work to help their family survive, arranges for Ichmad to test for a special scholarship. Ichmad, the only Arab in the running, shows up in his rubber tire sandals and dirty work clothes, and stuns the entire audience, winning the highest monetary award!
Yes, this is the inspiring story, albeit fictional, of a young village boy who beats the odds and becomes a remarkable success. However, more importantly, it is a poignant and well researched view into the centuries old strife between Israelis and Palestinians. Rather than decide who is right and who is wrong, the author, an expert in Middle Eastern studies, suggests that peace is the best path. This is not an overly political piece – most of the volatile political opinions stem from Ichmad's brother as he grows old and bitter at his family's fate, but perhaps even he could be persuaded?
This book had special meaning for me. As a high school student, my family and I took a pilgrimage to Israel. At the time, I sponsored a young Arab boy through an international charity. We were able to prearrange a visit to the hospital in Bethlehem where he was being treated for leg deformities, so that he could walk again. While I was unable to meet him directly, I was able to meet an administrator and leave some small gifts for him and his family. During our brief stay as tourists, I saw first hand that Arabs were restricted with special travel passes. Our driver risked punishment by staying out past his curfew to get us to and from the hospital to deliver the gifts to the young boy. We drove through a checkpoint where boys no older than I was held machine guns and looked fiercely into our windows. Like the author, I also choose not to take sides. I simply believe that every person should have basic human rights and that in this ancient battle, many atrocities have been initiated by both sides. It is a senseless tragedy for which neither I nor the author of this enlightening book have the answers.
This novel was released in December, 2013 through Garnet Publishing. ISBN 9781859643297. Be forewarned there is some graphic violence described. It was especially difficult for me to read about the death of Ichmad's younger sisters, Amal and Sara. Still, the book is well worth reading and hopefully will spread greater understanding about a cultural war that outsiders may know little about, despite the latest headlines. ...more