Saturday, May 23, 2009


"Jantsen's Gift" by Pam Cope

(from inside flap)
Ten yers ago, Pam Cope owned a hair salon in the small town of Neosho, Missouri. Her life revolved around her son's baseball games, her daughter's dance lessons, and family trips to places like Disney World. She had never been out of the country, nor had she any desire to travel far from home.
Then, on June 16, 1999, her life changed forever when her fifteen-year-old son Jantsen died from an undiagnosed heart ailment. Drowning in sadness and needing to get as far away from her loss as possible, she accepted a friend's invitation to visit orphanages in Vietnam. From the moment she arrived, everything began to shift. By the time she returned home, she had a new mission: to use her pain to change the world, one small step at a time, one child at a time.
Within one year, Pam had rescued thirty children from the streets of Vietnam. Within five yers, that number had grown to more than two hundred. Then, in 2006, a New York Times article about young children being sold into slavery in Ghanna galvanized her to travel thousands of miles to intervene on their behalf. Today, Pam is the director and founder of Touch A Life, and organization dedicated to helping at-risk children all over the world, and she is working to build a center in Northern Ghanna that offers a safe shelter and a promising future for the children she has rescued from slavery.

This is a very inspiring book!!! I can certainly feel for Pam at the loss of a child. I have lost a child, our daughter Shondella Iris died February 26, 1977. She was 4 1/2 years old. This is a very moving and sometimes hard book to read. All the agony, frustration, and heartbreak is almost overwhelming. But I did keep going if for no other reason than to see if Pam acturally got the children out of slavery in Ghanna. And she didn't get them all, but got lots of them. At the end of the book she gives you the info on the children that she has wrote about in the book. How they are doing and what's going on in their life's at the time the book is written. Pam also gives you the website of her foundation. You can find lots more info at the Touch A Life website. Just click on the name Touch A Life and you will go there!


Thursday, May 21, 2009


"The Mighty Queens of Freeville" by Amy Dickinson

(from the inside page)
Like all good monarchs, the Mighty Queens of Freevile rule fairly and from a distance. Amy's memoir is in part a love letter to her hometown of Freevile, NY (population 458), a small town in upstate New York that satys simple and pure while the world changes around it, and in part iit is a tribute to a family of women who support and draw strengh from one another.
This is a memoir about the people and animals who have trampled through Amy's life. It offers a narrative that is both universal and personal.....honest and witty.

I really liked this book lots!! It was very funny at was also a little sad at times. As Amy comes to the conclusion that her marriage is over and she has to raise her daughter alone, Amy gets on with her life raising her daughter, finding a job, getting an apartment, and going home to Freeville. She has a few stops along the way. Washington, D.C. and New York are a couple of stops she makes. Amy also gives you glimpses into her dating and her cats life. Then you also get to see her daughter grow up and go off to college. Wonderful book, I didn't want it to end, but it does and there is a happy ending. But you'll have to read the book to find out what the happy ending is!!


You can see the reviews of all the books I have read for this challenge here. This will take you to my archives of all the books I have read and reviewed for this reading challenge. Sorry I haven't posted here, but totally forgot I could post my review at this blog. This is book 12 for me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Other Half

The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America by Tom Buk-Swienty, translated by Annette Buk-Swienty

When Jacob Riis died in 1914 he was considered a hero and mourned by millions, including his personal friend and fellow reformer Theodore Roosevelt. But how many of us today know who Jacob Riis was or what he did to gain such a reputation?
In his very readable and fascinating biography Tom Buk-Swienty has brought the story of Jacob Riis back to life. "As if plucked from a variant Horotio Alger novel, his is the story of a poor young Dane from the isolated yet picturesque medieval town of Ribe who immigrates to the United States in 1870 because of broken heart, nearly starves during his first months there, and is so despondent that he nearly dies. He then goes on to live what can only be described as the proverbial American dream: He starts at the bottom, struggles mightily, and then makes a living as an iron salesman. Once again, though, he loses all; then by chance he gets a job as a low-paid journalist and, in a few years, becomes a star police reporter and, finally, the author of a resounding best seller and classic, How the Other Half Lives. At the same time he practically invents modern photojournalism, is knighted by the Danish King, and becomes a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Together they fight police corruption and work to eradicate the worst slums in New York City, their herculean efforts succeeding beyond anyone's expectations." (xv)
In short, Riis was an early progressive reformer and muckraking reporter before the term muckraker had even been coined. This poor Danish immigrant became one of the biggest social reformers of the day, campaigning successfully against the slums and tenements. Riis' work brought massive reforms including the destruction of some of the worst slums in New York Cty. Mulberry Bend was once an infamous slum and is today known as Columbus Park due to the efforts of Riis. Jacob Riis made it impossible for the wealthy and middle class Americans of the day to keep ignoring the poor and destitute living amongst them. Riis photographs, taken with a revolutionary new flash, literally brought the dark and dank slums to light.
Tom Buk-Swienty's biography does an excellent job of telling Jacob Riis' story, from his early life in Denmark, his heartbreak over the love of his life (and the amazing turn around that actually leads to him getting the girl), his early destitute days in America and his, eventual, dedicated hard work that led to him becoming a famous reporter and reformer. The book also provides an excellent look at life in New York City at the turn of the century and the break with old Victorian standards towards the poor and charity. A very compelling biography.Here are some links to more information about Riis:
-If you've got a few minutes, watch this video clip from a documentary about Riis. It showcases many of his photographs.
-An NPR article about Riis and Buk-Swienty's biography.