Spring break truly is my favorite time of year. It comes as a welcome respite in the busiest season, and it is not a trip, it is a vacation. When I’m not sitting on the beach or by the pool, I’m drinking coffee slowly, I’m walking to local shops, I’m chillin’ with the fam, I’m mixing a G&T, I’m
evaluating my tan putting on sunscreen. I’m reading.
Choosing books is an arduous task when you compare it with the above list. This year I tried to read 1984. I feel like I should have read that by now. But spring break is not a time for “shoulds.” Besides, I kinda feel like I’m over communism. (I just finished teaching a unit on Korea to 6th graders. Trying to help them really understand communism is not an easy task) I promptly put it down and picked up some good stories, all of which are true! As I write, there are tropical waftings of residual sunscreen coming up from the pages…
From an AJC review: The tragedy of AIDS in Ethiopia comes into sharp focus in Melissa Fay Greene’s powerful new book, There Is No Me Without You. Greene, who lives with her family in Atlanta, tackles the terrifying truth that in 2005, Ethiopia counted among its population 1.5 million AIDS orphans. Officials estimate some 12 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in all of sub-Saharan Africa.
Here’s a brief summary: For years Neely Tucker was a foreign correspondent covering the world’s most dangerous hot spots — Sarajevo, Nairobi, Kinshasa. In 1997 he was based in Zimbabwe. At that time, the country was the epicenter of the AIDS crisis in Africa. Unable to have children of their own, Tucker and his wife, Vita, threw themselves into volunteer work at a local orphanage filled with sick infants whose parents had died or had simply abandoned them. It was there they met a baby girl named Chipo. In the Shona language, her name means “gift.” Like thousands of children in Zimbabwe, she had been abandoned at birth and left for dead. Neely Tucker writes about the struggle to keep Chipo alive, and then the long journey through Zimbabwe’s bureaucratic maze to make the child a permanent part of the family.
My favorite part:
“I had remembered the thought from long ago that had led me to this courtyard in southwestern Nigeria: the idea that there was some sort of truth to be found in the world’s most sorrowful places. It was something I had viewed as critical to my understanding of the world, and I had pursued it since the day I had come of age in Mississippi and began to see things as they really were…Had it been left to me, Chipo, my very own daughter, would be dead because I had not been there. There are defining moments in your life, in which your measure is taken for good and you remember it always. So it was for me then.”
Penelope Ayers by Amy Julia Becker.
Summary: Penelope Ayers is a memoir about a beautiful, gracious, lonely New Orleanian who discovers one February morning that she has cancer. Penny’s life to this point has included an alcoholic husband, divorce, depression, and raising two boys on her own. And yet this crisis prompts her to reach out for help. Three generations of her fractured, colorful family respond, and in so doing, they all experience grace and healing.
My favorite part: “I wondered, What does it mean to have hope for Penny? What does it mean to have hope for eternal life?” I knew it had to do with the resurrection–that if Jesus truly had been raised from the dead, then I could believe others could be raised with him. So hope meant believing in a promise, in a future that didn’t contain the wrenching reality of pain, and death, and separation. And yet hope involved more than the future, was more complicated than a denial of the hurt and confusion of the present moment, more complicated than trite condolences about death bringing us to a better place. Somehow, I thought, hope had to connect the present and the future, bind them together…To hope meant to stand in the place between–feeling the pain of the present while, somehow, still trusting in God’s goodness, in the reunion yet to come.”