Review: Circles of Hope

“Facile had no gift for his baby sister. No tikado at all. He ate a juicy sweet mango, licked his sticky fingers, and thought.” p. 7

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Circles of Hope by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Linda Saport.
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005.
Realistic fiction, 32 pages.
Lexile:  AD590L ( What does AD mean in Lexile? )
AR Level:  3.9 (worth 0.5 points)  .

Facile’s is excited about his new baby sister, Lucia, but he doesn’t have a gift for her.  When he was born, Papa planted a mango tree for him, but now Papa is working in the city.  Can Facile plant a tree for Lucia?

Circles of Hope cover
Circles of Hope by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Linda Saport.

First I want to note that this book was published in 2005, so it’s that rare children’s book about Haiti that has nothing to do with the earthquake.

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Review: Acts of Faith

“How does a teenager come to hold such a view? The answer is simple: people taught him.” p. xii

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel.
Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2007.
Adult nonfiction/autobiography, 189 pages.
Not leveled.

Part autobiography, part nonfiction, this is the story of Eboo Patel’s life, how it could easily have been so very different, and what he feels is most important for young people today.

Acts of Faith resized

This was a very unique read.  Patel intersperses the story of his own life with a look at the way various Western minority youth were influenced by religious extremists and carried out various acts of violence.

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Review: Kisses from Katie

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis with Beth Clark.
Howard Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2011.
Memoir, 264 pages.
Lexile:  not leveled
AR Level:  6.6 (worth 13.0 points)  .

This is a story of a young American who moved to Uganda, adopted 13 girls, and started a non-profit, motivated by her belief that Jesus was calling her there.

Kisses from Katie resized

Kisses for Katie is very religious.  I knew from the subtitle and her blog that this book was Christian, but didn’t expect it to be so heavy-handed.  I was also confused about the intended audience.  Given that literally every page included at least one reference to God, praying, or religion, one would assume this is a specialty book intended for a specifically Christian audience.  However, there are repeated points where commonly known Bible stories are summarized as if to someone unfamiliar with Christianity.

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Review: Outliers

“Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are.” page 285

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.
Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2008.
Adult nonfiction, 309 pages including notes and index.
Lexile:  1080L  .
AR Level:  7.8 (worth 13.0 points)  .

What do geniuses, rice paddies, hockey players, a Korean airline, a small town in Kentucky, and young Jamaican twins have to do with each other?  These topics and more are woven together in Gladwell’s explanation of success.

Outliers

This book goes beyond the ten thousand hours to achieve mastery theory to examine what else can effect our success or failure in life.  Gladwell looks at how community can change health, how Germany jumpstarted the Beatles, what made one Jewish lawyer wildly successful while his father struggled, and what linguistic difference makes Chinese children understand math more easily.

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Review: Dreamland

“Children of the most privileged group in the wealthiest country in the history of the world were getting hooked and dying in almost epidemic numbers from substances meant to, of all things, numb pain.” p. 8

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.
Bloomsbury Press, New York, my edition 2016, first published 2015.
Adult nonfiction, 374 pages including index and notes.
Not leveled.

Dreamland is the far-reaching narrative of America’s unprecedented struggle with opiate addition.  It looks inside doctor’s offices and pharmacutical marketing, studies villagers from Xalisco, Nayarit in Mexico, and interviews street addicts, rehabilitation workers, and more to form a comprehensive picture of how this situation developed.

Dreamland cover
Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones.

This book doesn’t entirely fit my usual review criteria.  After all, the author and the majority of people in it are white, although there is a substantial Mexican and Mexican-American element present.  However, I decided it was close enough to my usual topics (since addicts are generally not a privileged group, even if they are white or privileged in other areas) to discuss here.

America’s opiate epidemic has been getting a lot of attention because it’s affected a lot of people that those in power don’t usually think of as potential addicts – middle class Midwestern white suburbians.  Another, lesser known, oddity of the problem is that nearly all of the black tar heroin dealers in American’s smaller cities are from small towns in the tiny Mexican state of Nayarit.

Quinones interviews addicts, dealers, medical professionals, reformers, and law enforcement to provide as accurate a picture as possible of how this came to be.  Most of the people he talks to are white, Mexican, or Mexican-American, although he does talk to some people of color, and he brings up the disparity between political response to this ‘epidemic’ and previous reactions such as the ‘war on drugs’.

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Review: Un-Ashamed

“I started spending time in the library, researching books on religion and philosophy.” page 56

Un-Ashamed by Lecrae Moore, with Jonathan Merritt.
B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, Tennessee, 2016.
Autobiography, 204 pages including notes (211 pages including blank note space).

The autobiography of a “Christian rapper” who successfully transitioned to general rap spaces and overcame many personal challenges.

Un-Ashamed Lecrae resized
Un-Ashamed by Lecrae.

This one is from the library.  I knew it was somewhat religious, but didn’t realize just how Christian it was.  There definitely were points that could apply to everyone, but it also was very heavy on religion.  For example, his conversion experience takes up most of a chapter, while other aspects of his life are given much less detail.  Lecrae sees his life through the filter of Christianity and views everything with God’s purpose in mind.

I’ve reviewed other books that deal with religion: with a religious main character, attempting to educate others about a misunderstood religion, a character discovering their religious identity, and even tackling a non-fiction topic from a religious perspective.  After some debate, I elected to review this book, since I did finish it, and it fits the main objective of my blog (to review books by/about marginalized groups).

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Review: Educating All God’s Children

“Most disturbing, Anthony regarded society’s low expectations of him as the reason why his school didn’t have the necessary supplies.” page 12

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham.
BrazosPress, Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2013.
Persuasive non-fiction, 235 pages including notes.

Fulgham wrote this book for the sixteen million children growing up in poverty in the United States of America and receiving a drastically different education than their upper and middle-class counterparts.  This book is fairly unique to America, because US education is uniquely flawed.

Educating All Gods Children

The first time I read this book was as a young educator ready to change the world.  This time, I read it having parented, including having parented children in highly segregated schools.

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