Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Dream Deferred A Joy Achieved

A Dream Deferred A Joy Achieved by Charisse Nesbit

This book is a collection of stories of children in the foster system who have made it through and gone on to succeed in life.  The author was a foster child herself and wrote the book because she was tired of hearing all the horrible stories of children in foster care.  There are success stories to be told of resilient children that despite what was stacked against them, succeeded.  "Savasia says she never became accustomed to being called a 'foster child': I hated those words.  They made me sound like I was somebody else's hand-me-down."  I am thankful for the perspective of this book, that I was able to learn straight from these children's stories.  "Remember, you are so much more than what you came from.  You cannot choose your parents or cannot explain their behavior.  You now have the opportunity to really understand who you are and what you can be.  An environment will have an impact on what's around it, but you can still rise above it."  I love those words of encouragement to children going through the system, they can rise above, we all can.  "I am in no way excusing the abuse.  I just now understand the circumstances."  "For kids in the foster system, she offers these words: 'First, I love you.  I know what you're going through.  Keep dreaming your dreams even though you feel powerless.  When the sadness overwhelms you, pray-make friends with God.  Speak up!  Your voice is important, and it MATTERS.'"  "I couldn't tell my secrets because if I did, I would have to defend myself even more becasue by saying I am a foster youth, I am saying to them that I am on drugs, a thief, will become pregnant as a teen, or will be a juvenile delinquent.  If I was a foster youth, according to statistics, I was not to be trusted.  I was not to be defended..."  The labels that we have given foster youth need to be thrown out.  We need to give these kids a chance, we need to defend them and show them that they are loved.  I recommend this book for a great perspective on our foster youth from our foster youth.

Angels of a Lower Flight

"Angels of a Lower Flight by Susie Scott Krabacher

This is a memoir about a women who saw an ad for an orphaned child on tv and found that she wanted to do more than just give money, she wanted to hold these children and let them know they weren't alone.  This started her life's work.  Susie had been abused and taken advantage of her whole life, she knew how these children felt.   She went to Haiti and began taking care of abandoned children in the hospitals.   One trip led to the next trip which led to her opening an orphanage.  This book is inspirational and heart breaking.  It is also a tad bit on the graphic side.  The author was once a Playboy Bunny and she doesn't hesitate to tell all.  But, aside from that, I like the book and the courage the author had to go into a foreign country and make a change for the better.  "Good intentions never amount to anything unless you actually do something about them."  Talking about an issue doesn't resolve the issue, we have to get in there and actually put our words to action.  "When he committed suicide he took a part of my life without permission."  "A poverty-stricken county is fertile ground for corruption and greed, even for the best of us."  Poverty and hunger can lead so many to do things they wouldn't normally do.  It is easy to judge when we have never been in their shoes.  "I don't believe we are wrestling simply with humanity's evil.  If God exists, then why wouldn't a devil also exist?  If Satan is real, it'd be a great benefit to him for us to believe he isn't.  I have to believe there's a personality behind the horror I routinely witness.  It's simply too much awfulness to pin onto chance.  But I'm not afraid of the devil.  I brace myself with a stronger power."

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Writing my Wrongs

"Writing My Wrongs" by Shaka Senghor

I will admit this book is a little tough to get through.  It has a lot of cussing and explicit examples of what happens in prison.  Yet, it is a good book to understand about growing up on the streets, prison, and re-entry after prison.  It is an amazing story of how some choose to make something of themselves and help others, while others can't break the cycle.  "I was tired of being hurt and confused by two people I loved more than anything in the world."  Childhood is when most of our prison inmates have experienced the abuse that leads them to the streets and the crimes that they commit.  "I had never thought about the fact that by getting locked up, I was also imprisoning everyone who loved or cared about me."  Our actions and choices affect so many around us and yet in the moment we only think of ourselves.  "We weren't bad people, but we had made some very bad decisions that were shaped by the bad things we had experienced.  We were fathers, brothers, uncles, drug dealers, robbers, and killers.  And we weren't any one of those things by itself-what we were was a mixture of failure, neglect, promise, and purpose."  I think that we forget that our inmates are people, people who have made bad choices yes, but also people who have been badly hurt themselves.  "I had helped to bring a new life into the world-but now I was taking my life out of it."  He had made a choice that landed him in prison, a choice that took him out of his child's life.  "My crime was no badge of honor in my son's eyes-it was a scarlet letter that signified how badly I had failed him and the other young Black males in my neighborhood, many of whom would die or spend their lives in prison for trying to emulate me."  And this brought about the change in him, realizing that he needed to do better by his son and help others that were like him choose a better life.  "It had taken me years to realize that no one goes to prison alone; my imprisonment had impacted my family as though they were sitting in the cell with me." "That's why I'm asking you to envision a world where men and women aren't held hostage to their pasts, where misdeeds and mistakes don't define you for the rest of your life.  In an era of record incarcerations and a culture of violence, we can learn to love those who no longer love themselves.  Together, we can begin to make things right."   

See Me

"See Me" by Nicholas Sparks

If youv'e been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that my favorite author is Nicholas Sparks, he never dissapointes.  See Me is his latest novel, although he is currently writing a new one.  I don't know how he writes so many and they are all so good.  This one might be one of his best, yet I might say that every time.  Colin is a young man with a long history of violence.  He has decided to start a new path and leave the old Colin behind.  The question is, can he really do it?  Maria is a girl that has also left her past behind and seems to have the world at her fingertips.  A chance meeting between the two of them might cause Maria's past to catch up to her and Colin to show her hasn't really changed at all.  "But if you're going to make a judgement about me, then you need to know who I really am, not just the part I decide to tell you.  I'd rather be honest about all of it and let you make the call as to whether you want to keep talking to me or not."  Wouldn't this be great if everyone we met did this at first, to let us know who they really were?  I think it would be a little frightening at first but so much easier to just get it all out on the table in the beginning.  "I think you can do whatever you want.  In the end, we all live the life we choose for ourselves."  We are the ones at the end of the day that have to live with the choices we made, best make the choices you can live with.  "Love makes everything complicated, and emotions always go wild in the beginning.  But when it's real, you should hold on tight, because we're both old enough to know that true love doesn't come along all that often."  Pick up this book, you won't be sorry, I promise.