Review: Dressmaker of Khair Khana

“To him it was his highest obligation and a duty of his faith to educate his children so that they could share their knowledge and serve their communities.” page 27

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The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.
Harper Perennial, Harper Collins, New York, 2012 (first published 2011).
Nonfiction, 270 pages including extras.
Lexile:  1090L  .
AR Level:  not leveled

The story of one young woman and her five sisters who stayed in Kabul and started a home dressmaking business under Taliban rule that not only provided for their family, but also allowed them to teach other women sewing and positioned them to be leaders in Afghanistan’s economy.

Dressmaker of Khair Khana
The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.

I’d been traveling and was hoping to visit a specialty gift shop to pick up some diverse books, only to find it closed, so I found a nearby library.  The library wasn’t so diverse, but had extremely cheap books, so I purchased a bunch for under $1 total, including this one.

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Five Strategies for Reading Nonfiction

How I manage to read some non-fiction with a busy life, and where my system fails.

This is a question I’ve gotten a few times lately and thought it might be good to address.  I work full time plus most of the year and the family keeps me pretty busy too.  However, I still read a lot of non-fiction.  How do I do it?

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Nonfiction November: Week One

I had no intention of doing any more challenges this year, but Wendy mentioned this one and it happened to coincide with my current goal.  Basically, although you don’t see it (because these days I schedule most of my posts), at certain times of the year I tend to focus on one type of book.

Right now I find myself with some extra time and am pushing myself to read and review as much nonfiction as possible, knowing that next year will probably be much busier and include much less reading time.  Therefore, Nonfiction November it is!

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Hidden Figures and Redefining Realness were my two favorite adult reads.  Recently I was blown away by Prisoners Without Trial.  For kids so far I liked This Kid Can Fly best; if picture books are included, this gets even tougher.

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? I continue to recommend a nonfiction book from last year frequently, Born a Crime.  However, I’ve been recommending As Nature Made Him for years now.  The review with the highest stats on my blog (more than twice the views of any other post, nearly as many as my main page) is still Lion.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?  Once upon a time I used to read a lot of true crime.  I also used to read a lot of science-based books.  I’d like to read more #ownvoices stories about places in the world I’m not familiar with and the lives/careers of PoC STEM leaders.  I continue to quest for more books about indigenous or PoC people who are disabled (be sure to comment if you know of any that aren’t on my list).

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? I have some bonus reading time and am hoping to buckle down and get through a lot of non-fiction books so I have a good pool of reviews to use in 2018 (most of my posts for 2017 are already scheduled).

2017 October Book Haul resized
October 2017 Book Haul

TBR  I’m hoping to finish reading and reviewing all of the nonfiction books from my last book haul.  I would also like to complete or make substantial progress on the two 500+ page books on my shelf.  Basically this month I’m hoping to tackle the most difficult, lengthy, or academic works ahead of me, so that I have some reviews ready for busier times when I’m not as able to delve into deep reading or take time to write a longer review.

If you’d like to see the 25 nonfiction chapter books and ten nonfiction picture books I’ve reviewed in 2017 so far, scroll down on my 2017 Review List and they are listed by title below the fiction books.

Review: …and You Fall Down

“I have come to believe that her life was ruined not by septic shock or noncompliant parents but by cross-cultural misunderstanding.” page 262

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, my edition 1998 (first published 1997).
Nonfiction, 341 pages +reader’s guide.
Not leveled.

This is the story of a severely epileptic Hmong girl and the family and doctors who wanted what was best for her but disagreed about what that was.  It’s also the story of the Hmong people in America, and their experiences with the medical establishment.

The Spirit Catches You resized

This is technically a re-read.  However, I didn’t remember much, so it was like reading a new book.  The primary story in this book is Lia’s life and the friction between her family and the medical staff caring for her, but it has a wide scope.

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Review: This Day in June

My thoughts about this book were complicated. It has great promise but falters in some of the execution.

This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten.
Magination Press, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., 2014.
Informative fiction, 36 pages.
Not leveled.

The story of Pridefest presented through a parade for family discussion.

This Day in June
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten.

This was one of the picture books Husband bought that I mentioned before.  I struggled reviewing it since my feelings are mixed.  While characters of color are included in this book, it struck me that all the couples included seemed to be either white, or of mixed race.  None of the families had two adults of color.

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Review: Prisoners Without Trial

“The barbed-wire fences, the guards, and the surrounding wasteland were always there to remind the detainees that they were exiled, incarcerated Americans, who didn’t know whether they would ever be allowed to return to their former homes.” page 71

Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II by Roger Daniels.  (Revised Edition)
Hill and Wang, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 2004.  (Orig. pub. 1993)
Nonfiction, 162 pages including index, appendices, and further reading.
Not leveled.

An overview of the unlawful imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII, including anti-Asian prejudice before the war, and eventual reparations 50 years after the camps.

Prisoners Without Trial resized
Prisoners Without Trial by Roger Daniels.

Every American should read this book.  Daniels distills decades of scholarly research on this and related topics into a succinct and incredibly readable overview.  Nonfiction normally takes me much longer than fiction, but I suspect that I could have read this in one day had other obligations not interfered.

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Discussion: Microaggressions in Fiction

A look at several books to try to articulate different ways of approaching microaggressions in literary texts.

Here’s a loaded question for you: When are microaggressions okay in literature?

This question came up today as I was reading a book review over at Sinead’s blog.

After I had written several paragraphs in the comment box, trying to clarify my thoughts on the subject, it made sense to just write my own post and ask for feedback on this question.

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