The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community by Mary Pipher -- I saw this book while I was with Michael at Barnes & Noble, and found it available at my local library. The author discusses her experiences with various refugees who moved to her home in Lincoln, Nebraska. In this book you will be introduced to Kurdish sisters who fled Iraq, school settings - one with elementary-aged refugees, another with high school students, also you will meet people from Kenya and Sierra Leone. The author also gives tips and other observations about cultures. Of course I enjoyed this one although halfway through the book I felt inviting refugees here was a mistake as America is too difficult to understand, too cruel in many ways. Then I recalled what these people left, and was heartened with stories of refugees who seemed happy and more adjusted to life here. The book made me want to be more cognizant of foreigners among us, to be open to helping them, to offering friendship...and for the hundredth time it made me wish my city were more international! Why am I stuck here??
The author noted how an Ethiopian man caught many fish, and she,
thinking he'd want to save them for himself and his family, offered
storage space in her freezer. He looked at her quizzically and said he
had no need to store them as he was giving them away to friends. Also
she told how Afghan women were very upset with the artwork their
children brought home from school because they used dried beans and
macaroni. People in our country are starving and they use food in art
A couple quotes from the section on "Home" towards the end of the book that I liked:
love of your own country hasn't to do with foreign politics, burning
flags, or the Maginot Line against immigrants at the border. It has to
do with a light on a hillside, the fat belly of a local trout, and the
smell of new-mown hay." Bill Holm (pg. 320)
"American restlessness is overstated. We all come from
immigrants, but if we look far enough back in our family trees, we will
find a farmer. In Grass Roots, Gruchow makes the point that the
average settler wasn't in search of a new world to conquer, but of a
refuge, 'a place with a few cows, a garden, a house of one's own, as far
away from trouble as possible.'" (pg. 324)
Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home
by Kim Sunée -- This is a memoir by a Korean-born woman adopted by a
couple from New Orleans who ended up moving to Europe for many years as a
young adult. Her story is so unlike my own, and I was sad that she had
such a hard time fitting in and felt so adrift. I kept hoping I could
introduce her to Someone who could fill this void in her life. This
book made me appreciate food that I'm familiar with. I am sure her food
is superb (she includes recipes at the end of nearly every chapter),
but, eh, I just like my normal Southern-American food. This book was in
my local library biography section.
Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman -- curious what it's like to be incarcerated in a women's prison? Read this book.
Hide: A Child's View of the Holocaust by
Naomi Samson - a Polish Jew recounts her life in hiding from the German
soldiers and the Polish "friends" and neighbors who tried to kill
them; She, her mother, brother and sister hid for a year and a half in a
hayloft or under the house of a couple Polish women who fed them
reluctantly -- when the children were finally free, two of them had to
crawl as their muscles had attached to their legs wrongly during their
growing while curled in a fetal position all that time --- so sad! And
again I wonder HOW can people be so cruel to other people?!
Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption by
Shon Hopwood -- found this in the new books at the library; it's the
story of a Nebraskan man who committed bank robbery and served more than
a decade in a federal prison. During that time he finds he has a knack
for legal things and his story is quite a testimony to the power of
grace and redemption - and it helps you better understand the people in
prisons (somewhat...) and what's with my reading two prison memoirs in
Stolen Years: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika
Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi -- Wow, what a book! It seems jail is a
theme this month. Malika's jail experience isn't like the others
however. Her family (mother and siblings) were imprisoned - banished to a
place where they only had themselves and their jailers as company.
Quite a story out of Morocco. Don't mess with the king!
Freedom: The Story of My Second Life
by Malika Oufkir -- the sequel to the above book; the author tells how
she readjusts to life. Can you imagine being locked away for twenty
years and how much things changed in that time? Like automatic
sinks...how does the water come out? She also tells of her first
experiences with love (or lust) after her escape.
Dalai Lama, My Son: A Mother's Story by Diki Tsering -- I
enjoyed hearing some of the customs and expectations of the people in
Tibet. The wedding preparations and the way people consulted their
astrologers and the way ghosts killed their children - fascinating!
Things I've Been Silent About
by Azar Nafisi -- a book of memories of growing up in Iran; I enjoyed
reading about events in Iran through the eyes of this lady and her
Look Me In the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
by John Elder Robison -- I saw this at Barnes & Noble and found it
at the local library; I enjoyed learning more about Asperger's as it
affected this person's life. I have friends with this condition (not a
disease) and some of what the author wrote seems true of them.
The Poet of Baghdad: A True Story of Love and Defiance
by Jo Tatchell -- this story is about Nabeel Yasin's early years in
Iraq and how he escaped his home country and lived in exile until the
Iraq War. I enjoyed reading about the life of a family during these
years in Iraq as the story spans many decades.