Saturday, March 25, 2017

Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

When I was asked to review this book I told the author I could not guarantee them a date for the review as we were approaching our month of testing at school.  However, while on spring break something about the book kept drawing me to it. Out of all of the books I read over my break, this one to me is the most important. For that reason the review was bumped to the very front. I had a student four years ago who was an albino African American. I understood some of the physical issues she faced.  I had no idea of the history of African albinos until this book. Although this book is the fictional story of Adimu, an albino child born to a black couple, I had no idea of the stigmatism or superstitions that accompanied that birth. The child along with the  mother is rejected by her father. The mother rejects the child. The village demands she be taken to the forest to die.  The grandmother is given permission to raise the child if she survives not being trampled by the herd as they leave their pen. Her wise grandmother wraps her in a cloth soaked in the cattle urine. They step over her and the people decide the gods of the lake are allowing her to live.  At times I found myself angry with the way the grandmother treated her until I realized she was teaching her skills to survive any danger that arose long after she was gone. The fortunate meeting with the rich, white mine owner Mr. Fielding and his wife play a large part in her life. Unfortunately greed on Mr. Fielding’s part almost cost her the very life she has fought so hard to keep. 

I learned so much from this book and what I learned from researching afterwards. 1 in 20,000 people around the world are albinos. However, in Africa, 1  in 2,000 to 4,000 African’s are born with albinism. They are still sought after by witch doctors and people who want to get rich quick. They fear the night as that is when  their homes are broken into and they are viciously attacked with machetes where they are hacked apart while alive then left to die.  There are many arrests but few prosecutions.  There are many people who have tried to change old superstitions. Josephat Torner is one. I would not have been inspired to start researching about him if it had not been for the author of this book who sought me out. I would not be inspired to reach out and teach my students about this plight if not for this book. Mine is just one voice, but I proudly raise it along with others to bring this problem to the forefront.

Author Bio from Amazon:

Since his graduation, where he obtained a BA in political science, a MAs in humanitarian assistance and a PhD in social science, Cristiano’s work has taken him to some of the most challenging locations around the world, often dealing with the after effects of war and natural disasters. He currently works in Ukraine, in the hazardous border area with Russia.

In 2011, he went on a personal fact-finding trip to Tanzania, to assess the living conditions of Africans with albinism. From that experience his goal became to raise awareness of the living conditions of African albinos through the #HelpAfricanAlbinos campaign. His novel, Then She Was Born, is the English translation of his book, originally written in Italian.

Cristiano has met with eleven Nobel Peace Laureates, the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, who have each read a part of his novel and have leant their considerable support to the campaign.

In the case of Pope Francis, Cristiano was invited to an international symposium on Africa at the Vatican, to speak about Africans with albinism. He stayed in the Pope’s residence for four days and had a private meeting with him during that time. As a result, the #HelpAfricanAlbinos campaign is now endorsed by Pope Francis as an universal and interreligious message of peace and brotherhood.

Cristiano’s next target is to get celebrities to record video messages, just as the Nobel peace laureates and the Pope did, and spread them on social media to increase awareness of the living conditions of Africans with albinism, the last among all others.

The official campaign website is

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cascadia by H.W. "Buzz" Bernard

Genre: Adult, Thriller
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

At the time I scheduled this review I had not thought about what I would be teaching in my classroom around the time this review was due. It just worked out that we are reading stories on disasters. My students have been reading about Tsunamis and the earthquakes that cause them, specifically the 2004 tsunami. An interesting point in the article they read dealt with geomythology. Scientists are using stories told by Native Americans to back up stories of earthquakes and tsunamis that occurred in the past. Those were things I thought about as I read this wonderful thriller by “Buzz” Bernard.

One of the reasons I really like his work is you can tell how much research he does. I’m not sure how difficult that is for him with his background. I felt like I was reading a real life event.  His main character has to face one of the biggest challenges of his life. Dr. Elwood is a geologist who keeps having nightmares about a quake that devastates the northwest coast.  The more he has the dreams the more he believes the quake will actually happen. The challenge he faces is whether he should risk his career to go public with what he ‘believes’ will happen or if he should keep quiet to protect his career. If he is wrong it would be career over. If he doesn’t tell anyone and his dreams come true then he lost the opportunity to save lives.   I wondered if meteorologists and geologists ever actually go through this. I found it interesting that the “Thunderbird and Whale” reference was also mentioned in the articles my students read. This is such a well-written book I could see it as a movie.  I want a book like this that will keep me reading from cover to cover. I enjoy books that are so realistic I wonder how much truth there is to them. I definitely recommend you read this book and any of his other books. You won’t be sorry you checked out this author.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is one of those stories that has you looking over your shoulder. We live in a world that is constantly under surveillance. It seems common place to the point we tend to ignore it. Think of all of the criminals who are caught because they forgot there is the ability to provide surveillance in most every situation. Zoe finds herself stuck on a train on her way home one night. When she begins to read the ads in her paper she sees a picture of herself. There is also a website attached to her picture. Later she finds out that another woman who’s picture was in the paper ended up dead.  This pattern keeps happening and she is sure that she is being targeted.  I tend to do a lot of reading late at night after I’ve finished grading papers. This one had me so creeped out about being watched that I dreaded having to get out of bed and go to the bathroom. I kept hearing what are normal creaks of our house, but kept imagining someone was in the house.
We have Kelly a detective who has her own issues and is actually trying to build her reputation back up. She is one person who believes Zoe.  This is one of those books where things build up slowly until you suddenly realize how tense the situation is. I was unable to guess who was behind this. That is a plus for me. I hate reading a book and figuring things out so quickly.  I loved this book and the way it was written in different points of view.  This is a book that I will definitely recommend.