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- September 24, 2012
- Vol. 78
- No. 13
Picks and Pans: Books
She's 22 and a Mom to 13!
by Junot Díaz |
REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD
For the Dominican immigrants in Díaz's searing, irresistible new stories, love is like the promise of America: a siren call, a path to self-transformation, a dream you can't stop chasing even though (thanks to your faults and hers) it always lets you down. There's the recurring character Yunior, a young lothario so besotted with women he "could fall in love...over an expression, over a gesture," yet his cheating drives them all away. There's Yasmin, who washes sheets in a hospital laundry by day and shares her nights with a married factory worker, ever alert for signs that he's missing the wife he left in Santo Domingo. ("You must not think on these things," a friend tells her. "This is...how in part we all survive here.") It's a harsh world Diaz conjures but one filled also with beauty and humor and buoyed by the stubborn resilience of the human spirit. For better and worse, as one of his characters puts it, "people's hopes go on forever."
BY THE AUTHOR OF...
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson |
REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN
We meet him on the lam from the old-folks home, but the hero of this witty caper-a bestseller in Europe-turns out to have played a major role in history. He's crossed paths with everyone from Stalin to LBJ and helped develop the atomic bomb. So why is he creeping around Sweden with an elephant, a dog and assorted lowlifes? If you're not deterred by the words "Swedish humor," you'll enjoy finding out.
Why Have Kids?
by Jessica Valenti |
REVIEWED BY JUDITH NEWMAN
Why indeed? Having children purely for love (instead of, say, cheap labor) is a relatively recent phenomenon and has ratcheted up expectations of how parents should feel. Thanks to the media and the vast mother-advice-giving industry, we mostly feel inadequate. For mothers like Valenti, who felt guilty admitting impatience at the drudgery and boredom that constitutes much of parenting, this book may be a revelation. And a comfort.
Kept in the Dark
by Penny Hancock |
REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS
In Hancock's debut novel, a pretty, middle-aged voice coach named Sonia invites a teen boy into her house on the Thames-and decides not to let him go. Writing about her crime in a calm, measured voice, Sonia comes across as a blend of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and John Fowles's The Collector, a woman as smart as she is unstable. Her story isn't creepy enough to keep you up at night, but it casts an appropriate shadow for summer's end.
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HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED
by Paul Tough
Drop the flashcards-grit, character and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills. A persuasive wake-up call.
by Jim Gorant
How an abused pup become a world champion Frisbee dog. A moving tale by our colleague Gorant, a senior editor at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
THE UNIVERSAL SENSE
by Seth S. Horowitz
Why's that song stuck in your head? Find the answer, and more, in this smart look at how the brain processes sounds.
In a new book, actor Tony Danza, 61, reveals what he learned as an English teacher at a Philly high school
I'd always wanted to. [My Who's the Boss? character] Tony Micelli became a teacher, and that was no accident. I wanted to satisfy the dream.
THE HARDEST PART?
It's emotionally grueling. These kids have crazy stories. They open up to you and you're saddled.
To teach creation myths, I wrote a rap: "Thor, the god of thunder was his name... he had some game!" I think it got them to think, "Hey, this might be fun with this moron!"
DID YOU KEEP IN TOUCH?
With some of them-I've got a guy now who's got girl problems driving me crazy! It was the most amazing experience. I wish everyone would do it.
At 18, Katie Davis left home in Nashville to volunteer in Uganda. Four years later she has founded a Christian nonprofit dedicated to helping Ugandan kids and their families and is also adopting 13 young girls herself.
"I never meant to live on the opposite side of the world; it was supposed to be temporary," says Davis. But after a mission trip in '07, "I fell in love with a country full of gracious, joyful people."
HOW SHE BECAME A MOM
After one of Davis's orphaned students was injured in an accident, she asked Davis if she could live with her. There was no relative willing to take the girl in, so Davis did-and then took in others.
ON LIFE AT HOME
"I am their full-time mom," says Davis, who homeschools the girls and supports them with her director's salary from her nonprofit, Amazima. "I bandage wounds, clothe, feed-and give lots of hugs and kisses."
EVER FEEL OVERWHELMED?
"Sometimes working in a third world country feels like emptying the ocean with an eyedropper," Davis admits. But she's found her calling and plans on staying to raise her kids, all in the process of being adopted. "I can change the world for these girls," she says. "It's worth every minute."
December 19, 2014
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