"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Books

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 here!

A couple quotes from the section on "Home" towards the end of the book that I liked:

"The 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 SunĂ©e  -- 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 recent days?

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 family

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


Wafa said...

What a great collection ..

I have read:
"Stolen Years: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir"
and "Freedom: The Story of My Second Life by Malika Oufkir".
There are also books by her mother and siblings, they are interested to read if you can find them.

I will add the following two to my long list of books to read:
"The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community" , and
" Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison " .

and like you I keep wondering "why am I stuck here? "
hopefully we will have an answer one day or a way to a different place, at least that's what I hope.

Thanks for the post :)

Susanne said...

Ooooh, thanks for letting me know about the other Oufkir books! Isn't that first one amazing?! Wow, I cannot imagine!

Ah, yes, you and I are alike in that "why am I stuck here" question! Hah

Good read your feedback, Wafa'! I always enjoy hearing from you. :)