On that Day Everybody Ate

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This is why I shouldn’t wait 2 weeks before writing a review.  I can’t, for the life of me, remember why I gave this book 3 stars.  I am sure I liked it, but it was not memorable enough for me to remember the whats and whys.  And maybe that, for me as a reader, is what is the difference between the five star books and the three star books — I can still remember clearly what I was thinking and how I was feeling when I was reading them. They stick with me long after the book is complete.  This one, unfortunately has not.

A quick look back at the book reveals that this is an inspirational tale that speaks of how being on mission tends to change the giver just as much as, if not more than, the receiver. Trost poured her life into Haiti, spending much of her time and energy there attempting to meet the needs of people as she saw them. And thanks to a very active priest and his church, she is able to see some success in bringing hope to a group of people.  As with many of these types of books, the author’s experience can get in the way of the place and the people, and that for me will drop a book from 5 stars fairly quickly.  This book, fortunately doesn’t promise to be more than that — it states right off the bat that it is Margaret’s experience of hope in Haiti, rather the experience of the people.   And her experience was rather interesting and she shares the stage well with the real actors in this book — the priest and the members of his church.

This is a good, if not particularly memorable, book to add to one’s collection on Haiti in particular and poverty in general.  I’m glad I took the time to read it, but I doubt I will remember much about it beyond this month.

To learn more about this book, check out GoodReads.

We Should All be Feminists

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If I were still teaching Diversity and Social Justice, this would be a required read for my students as it gets right to the heart of the reason I consider myself a feminist. Just what a nice short read should be — informative, interesting, and full of stories.  It reads much like her TED talk on the same subject, so if you have heard that, don’t expect anything radically different.

Beyond that, I’d say just read it.  And then go watch her TED talk — and while you are there, watch her talk on the Danger of a Single Story as well.

Turns out this book review is turning into an advertisement for TED.  But seriously, both of these TED talks are among my favorites.

Now it is time for me to tackle one of Adichie’s longer works.

To learn more about this book, visit GoodReads.

Oranges and Sunshine

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An incredible, unbelievable story that had so much potential to be one of my top books of the year, but unfortunately it was so poorly written and repetitive that I will confess to have skimmed the last 20%.

This book is primarily about Humphrey’s experience with working with adults who were exported from Britain to Australia from the 1920s-1950s.  And yes, when I say exported, I mean that — they were, in many ways, treated like a commodity to be used.  They were sent, without the consent of their parents, to populate the orphanages and do hard, back breaking work in the desolate spaces of Australia.  Many of these children were not technically orphans, but had been entrusted to the care of orphanages by their parents who were not able to take care of them.  Others were in state care because their mothers were not married. The mothers gave up their children with the the promise that they would be adopted into loving families.

The story, in and of itself, is horrifying and should have made for an excellent, although painful read.  But instead of letting the stories of the child migrants shine, Humphrey inserted herself into the story and she became the focus.  Yes, I understand the work was incredibly difficult and that she wanted to protect the child migrants, but what resulted from these two facts is a work that is very dry.  I expected to feel an enormous sadness while I was reading, but instead struggled to connect to the lives of these children.  Instead, I was annoyed with Humphrey’s voice getting in the way.

I was reminded in many ways of my experience with reading [book:The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever|23309930], which had a similar feel to it.  Tremendous potential for a powerful narrative, but unfortunately the writing of these experiences left me counting pages for the book to be over.

To learn more about this book, visit GoodReads.

Excellent Daughters

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This is an excellent read, focusing in on the lives of women who live in the Arab world. She shares stories and experiences from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia. While certainly not a comprehensive work, this is a great introduction to the lives of real women.  What I liked best about this is that Zoepf seemed to really like the people she spent time with. There was this feeling that I got that she was describing her friends. She raised important questions and reported on events, while also avoiding the demeaning voice that can sometimes come when Westerners report on the Middle East.  She is not patronizing and she allows women to speak their own truth, even when she might understand it. I left this book with a much better understanding of the complexities of women’s issues throughout the Middle East.

I highly recommend this for anyone who works with or is friends with Muslim women — no matter where they live.

For more information on this book, check out GoodReads.

The Drop Box

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I really enjoyed the movie, but the book fell flat for me. It was more of an autobiography for the filmmaker than the story of the Drop Box Pastor and his ministry. I was hoping to learn more about Pastor Lee and his work, but in this case, the movie does a much better job of doing this.

I can’t believe I am saying this, but watch the movie, skip the book.  Unless you are really into film making and want to read a filmmaker’s memoir..

Searching for Sunday

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This is more than a book — it feels much like a conversation with a dear friend who gets me, who has been with me my whole life and knows just  the right thing to say at any given moment. She gets the love that people have for the church and how that love can coexist with horror at how the church can act at times. She understands the grief that comes from the social distancing some of her readers have taken in order to maintain their relationship with God.  She knows the pain of the deep questions.

And this book speaks to all of that.  I found this in book a lovely companion for my own faith journey.  Rachel is not afraid of the difficult questions, nor is she afraid to speak of the pain and hurt that can come from asking them.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to read her words in this book and will most certainly revisit it on an regular basis.

This is on my highly recommended list for refugees from the church, as well as those who are just curious about us and why we have felt so disconnected that which was once one of the defining features of our lives.

I have found my way back to church, but I am there in far more cautious manner than I once was — and this book helps to explain some of that.

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus

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I have held on writing this for a long time because I don’t really know how to describe my feelings about this book. I want to say so much more, but perhaps that is for a second reading. For now, I need to write something before I have forgotten everything — so accept this meager token of my reading of what I believe to be a very important book. I think there is a lot we as readers can learn from conversion stories — no matter what a reader’s personal belief system is. And that Christians, Muslims, those of other faiths or even no faith can learn from the stories of others. I wanted my review to reflect that, but the words are simply not coming.

I loved the way it was written — a mixture of narrative and Christian apologetic. It feels very conversational, as though Nabeel is sitting in the room telling his readers his story. I loved the descriptions of his friendships and the way he talked about his passion for knowing God — both as a Muslim and now as a Christian. It is well-written and has a very honest feel about it. I highly recommend it to people who are curious about Christianity and Islam, or even monotheistic faith in general.