Tuesday, April 30, 2024

TWO more books my neighbor Betty shared with me

Waves in an Impossible Sea: How Everyday Life Emerges from the Cosmic Ocean ~ by Matt Strassler, 2024, quantum theory, 384 pages

A theoretical physicist takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey — found in "no other book" (Science) — to discover how the universe generates everything from nothing at all:  "If you want to know what's really going on in the realms of relativity and particle physics, read this book" (Sean Carroll, author of The Biggest Ideas in the Universe).
In Waves in an Impossible Sea, physicist Matt Strassler tells a startling tale of elementary particles, human experience, and empty space.  He begins with a simple mystery of motion.  When we drive at highway speeds with the windows down, the wind beats against our faces.  Yet our planet hurtles through the cosmos at 150 miles per second, and we feel nothing of it.  How can our voyage be so tranquil when, as Einstein discovered, matter warps space, and space deflects matter?
The answer, Strassler reveals, is that empty space is a sea, albeit a paradoxically strange one.  Much like water and air, it ripples in various ways, and we ourselves, made from its ripples, can move through space as effortlessly as waves crossing an ocean.  Deftly weaving together daily experience and fundamental physics — the musical universe, the enigmatic quantum, cosmic fields, and the Higgs boson — Strassler shows us how all things, familiar and unfamiliar, emerge from what seems like nothing at all.  Is this the ultimate guide to our place in the universe?
Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy ~ by Evan Thompson, 2017, philosophy, 496 pages

A renowned philosopher of the mind, also known for his groundbreaking work on Buddhism and cognitive science, Evan Thompson combines the latest neuroscience research on sleep, dreaming, and meditation with Indian and Western philosophy of mind, casting new light on the self and its relation to the brain.

Thompson shows how the self is a changing process, not a static thing.  When we are awake we identify with our body, but if we let our mind wander or daydream, we project a mentally imagined self into the remembered past or anticipated future.  As we fall asleep, the impression of being a bounded self distinct from the world dissolves, but the self reappears in the dream state.  If we have a lucid dream, we no longer identify only with the self within the dream.  Our sense of self now includes our dreaming self, the "I" as dreamer.  Finally, as we meditate ― either in the waking state or in a lucid dream ― we can observe whatever images or thoughts arise and how we tend to identify with them as "me."  We can also experience sheer awareness itself, distinct from the changing contents that make up our image of the self.

Contemplative traditions say that we can learn to let go of the self, so that when we die we can witness its dissolution with equanimity.  The book weaves together neuroscience, philosophy, and personal narrative to depict these transformations, adding uncommon depth to life's profound questions.  Contemplative experience comes to illuminate scientific findings, and scientific evidence enriches the vast knowledge acquired by contemplatives.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Beginning ~ with an eleven-year-old


On the sixth day, God gave the gift of creatures that live on the land:  those that walk on four legs, and those that walk on two, those that walk on six legs or eight or a hundred,  And God made people, in God's own image, and told them to take care of the world.

Well, that's the day where God made a mistake.
                    — WILLIAM, eleven

In Deep Waters: Spiritual Care for Young People in a Climate Crisis ~ by Talitha Amadea Aho, 2022 (on April 26), YA science & religion, viii + 259 pages

The starting point for this book is not news: the world as we know it is shifting.  Several millennia of climate stability have come to an abrupt end.  But, observes Talitha Amadea Aho, the young people of today do not remember stability.  They see the world through crisis-colored glasses.  Climate change is creating a spiritual emergency that is hitting their generation harder than any other.

Today's climate crisis calls people of faith to a communal spiritual practice of care, especially for those who are more vulnerable because of their youth — the children, youth, and young adults of Generation Z.  We must learn how to offer spiritual care that is informed by the spiritual-ecological crisis of their generation.

This book will help you keep young people at the center of your community and listen to the troubles they have to share.  Whether you are a Gen Z peer or a caring adult of any other generation, In Deep Waters will show you how to offer ecologically informed spiritual care.  We need to do it today; we cannot wait until one of today's youngest generations grows up.

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Science fiction and fantasy

Misha Burnett's Endless Summer: Twelve Strange Tales of Mankind's Future ~ by Misha Burnett, edited by P Alexander, 2020, science fiction, 193 pages
Misha Burnett is a master of the macabre and champion of the New Wave.  His talent for tales runs the gamut of weird fiction from contemporary Urban Fantasy to Sword & Sorcery to Science Fiction, all with his unique (and slightly twisted) take!

Misha Burnett's Endless Summer is a collection of strange and chilling tales of humankind's future, near and distant, from tomorrow until beyond the mark of history, through civilization's zenith, decline, destruction, and ultimately, the rebirth of humans!

Embark on an incredible and breathtaking journey across the ages, beginning with the time-travel thriller "The Bullet from Tomorrow" and running through eleven original stories that hold up a mirror to the worst and, more importantly, the best that humanity has to offer.

Small Worlds
~ by Misha Burnett, 2023, science fiction and fantasy, 240 pages
Small Worlds has all of the hallmarks of Misha Burnett’s fusion of Science Fiction & Fantasy (SFF) with classic weird, inviting the reader into the uncanny realms where the mundane has been pervaded by the strange, but also brings to the table his unique brand of white-knuckle thrilling adventure.

The story behind these stories

I was talking to a friend about books, and she mentioned this writer.  So I came home and looked him up.  Those of you who've been reading my blog know some of my very favorite books are science fiction, right?  So I looked up this author, liked what I saw, and bought one of his books for my Kindle.  Guess what I'll be reading in the near future!

I downloaded the top one, with the stories.  I chose it because the man from the future in the first story is given the fictitious name "Ernie Sutcliffe" (p. 15).  I knew that because I read the sample Amazon allows us to peruse.  Look at that name again.  "Sutcliffe" is an English name, derived from the "South Cliffs" of Dover.  Friends know why I'd notice that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

TWOsday ~ two books in one (plus a short story)

Two Deadly Doves: Six Geese A-Slaying and Duck the Halls (Meg Langslow Mysteries) ~ by Donna Andrews, 2015, humorous mysteries, 608 pages

Here are two side-splitting Christmas mysteries and an all-new short story from the Meg Langslow series, collected in one edition for fans of The New York Times bestselling author, Donna Andrews.  From ducks to geese to nightingales, Donna Andrews knows her birds!

This special collection starts with Six Geese A-Slaying, centered around the Caerphilly holiday parade.  When the local curmudgeon playing Santa is murdered, it's up to Meg and Chief Burke to tackle a two-fold mission:  Solve the murder and save Christmas…

Next in Duck the Halls, an unknown prankster is setting skunks and ducks loose in the New Life Baptist Church, seemingly to derail the Christmas concert.  Before they can find the culprit, though, an elderly vestryman is found dead.  Who would have murdered such a harmless old man?  And will Meg Langslow ever be able to finish all of her shopping, wrapping, cooking, and decorating in time for Christmas Eve?

Monday, April 22, 2024

Monday Musing

Life of the Beloved ~ by Henri J. M. Nouwen, 1992 (Guide for Reflection, 2002), spiritual life, 160 pages

Among the most popular of Henri Nouwen's books, Life of the Beloved was initially written for a Jewish friend, and went on to become Henri Nouwen’s greatest legacy.  As I flipped the pages before starting to read, I noticed quotes set apart in several places.  These stood out for me to consider and meditate on:
  • You are free to do what you want — if, that is, you really want it! (p. 14).
  • Each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers. (p. 88).
  • Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. (p. 107).
  • The real question is not "What can we offer each other?" but "Who can we be for each other?" (p. 112).

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Silent book clubs???

Book Clubs ~ revised

Yesterday, I got an email from one of my neighbors, saying:
Hi ladies - I just read in the Washington Post book club newsletter about silent book clubs where people bring a book they’re reading and read together for an hour. Silently of course. They do not read the same book. There are a couple of silent book club in St. Louis I found out via the website. One is meeting today at Queeny Park.
This is what she is currently reading, and (yikes!) it's 560 pages long:

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution ~ by R.F. Kuang, 2022, speculative historical fiction, 560 pages

An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.  1828.  Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell.  There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic.  Silver working — the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars — has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.

For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge.  But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland.  As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion.  When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide.  Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?
Silent book club?

So back to my subject.  Silent book club?  Sorry, but not for me.  It would seem like catching a city bus or riding the NY subway to dip into my book, with people walking through the Community Room or Café while we read "silently" without ever being able to ask anyone "Did you notice this?" or "Did that make sense to you?" because nobody is reading (or has read) the same book.  So what's the point?  As an introvert, I'd rather curl up in a comfy chair or sofa and "go into" the novel's setting without distractions beyond a phone call or a knock on my door, which rarely happens.

Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mr. Terupt series of juvenile fiction

Because of Mr. Terupt
(Book 1 of 4) ~ by Rob Buyea, 2010, juvenile fiction, 288 pages
It’s the start of a new year at Snow Hill School, and seven students find themselves thrown together in Mr. Terupt’s fifth grade class.  There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.
They don’t have much in common, and they’ve never gotten along.  Not until a certain new teacher arrives and helps them to find strength inside themselves — and in each other.  But when Mr. Terupt suffers a terrible accident, will his students be able to remember the lessons he taught them?  Or will their lives go back to the way they were before — before fifth grade and before Mr. Terupt?

Find out what happens in sixth and seventh grades in Mr. Terupt Falls Again and Saving Mr. Terupt.  And don't miss the conclusion to the series, Goodbye, Mr. Terupt.
Mr. Terupt Falls Again
(Book 2 of 4) ~ by Rob Buyea, 2013, juvenile fiction, 400 pages
Mr. Terupt’s class is spending one more year with him before they graduate and head off to junior high.  But for seven students, sixth grade comes with its own set of challenges.  Peter's parents expect him to attend private school after sixth-grade, but Peter has plans to stay right where he is.  Eager to grow up, Alexia gets in over her head with some older kids.  Danielle suspects that her family is keeping a secret from her, and she's determined to find out what it is.  Jeffrey makes a life-changing discovery.  Curious about her teacher's past, Jessica uncovers startling details about Mr. Terupt.  Anna finally decides she's ready for the truth about her absent dad.  And Luke's keen observations lead to questions with unexpected answers. 

It's a roller coaster of a year as Mr. Terupt helps his students be the best they can be — and enlists their help to pull off an extra-special project.  But are happy endings on the horizon?  Or will everyone fall all over again?
Saving Mr. Terupt (Book 3 of 4) ~ by Rob Buyea, 2013, juvenile fiction, 400 pages
The kids from Mr. Terupt’s fifth- and sixth-grade classes are entering their first year of junior high school.  There’s a lot to be excited about, but starting at a new school isn’t easy. Peter and Jeffrey face tough competition on their wrestling team.  Alexia has a disastrous first day of school, and that’s only the beginning.  Anna is desperate for Charlie to propose to her mother — what is he waiting for?!  Danielle isn’t feeling so well, but she's trying to tough it out, like Grandma.  Trouble with a bully makes Luke dread going to school for the first time ever.  And Jessica is waiting anxiously for an acceptance to a theater retreat in New York City.
Everyone is missing Mr. Terupt.  When a fight threatens to break up the group forever, they think their favorite teacher is the only one who can help them.  But the kids soon find out that it’s Mr. Terupt who needs saving.
Goodbye, Mr. Terupt
(Book 4 of 4) ~ by Rob Buyea, 2020, juvenile fiction, 416 pages
The seven kids who bonded in Mr. Terupt's fifth-grade class are in eighth grade now and reunited with their beloved teacher.  Readers will once again be inspired by how the kids face their challenges and by the adults who help them along the way.

Jeffrey, Alexia, Anna, Danielle, Luke, Peter, and Jessica are thrilled to have their beloved teacher, Mr. Terupt, back for the school year as their biweekly adviser.  They still rely on him for guidance on so many things, including these dilemmas:

JEFFREY wants to make varsity wrestling, but at what cost?  Worried that she may have the same cancer gene as her mom, ALEXIA takes a DNA test — only she's scared to open the results.  Neglected by her soon-to-be-married mom, and wounded by Jeffrey's callous brush-off, ANNA keeps her hurt feelings bottled up — until she can't.  DANIELLE has ups and downs with her diabetes, but her budding romance with Luke proves to be the real challenge.  LUKE's tackling lots of difficult schoolwork, none of it harder than letting Danielle know he likes her.  Anxious about her dad's return, JESSICA pours her heart into writing poetry.  Angry at what he thinks is a betrayal, PETER gives Mr. Terupt the silent treatment.

To celebrate their remaining time with Mr. Terupt, the students hatch bucket-list type projects to make the school year important, memorable, and way bigger than just the group.  Will the gang stick together down to the final project?  Will their friendships endure after the difficult goodbye?
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Friday, April 12, 2024

Beginning ~ on a deserted beach

Sam and I are sitting on a mostly deserted beach on Lake Michigan a little north of the Drake Hotel in Chicago.  The Drake is filled with treasured memories for both of us, and we had dinner at our favorite table there earlier.  I need to be with Sam tonight, because it's one year since, well, everything happened that shouldn't have happened — it's one year since Danny died.

Sam's Letters to Jennifer ~ by James Patterson, 2004, contemporary fiction (Wisconsin), 288 pages, 6/10

Have you ever gotten a letter that changed your life completely?  In this novel, a woman is summoned back to the town where she grew up.  And in the house where she spent her most magical years, she finds a series of letters addressed to her.  Each of those letters is a piece of a story that will upend completely the world she thought she knew — and throw her into a love more powerful than she ever imagined could be possible.  Two extraordinary love stories are entwined here, full of hope and pain and emotions that never die down.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Let's celebrate libraries (and books!)

National Library Week was first observed in the United States in 1958 and was sponsored by the American Library Association, according to Wikipedia.  This special week is now celebrated by a number of countries each April.  In 2024, the week we celebrate is from Sunday, April 7th to Saturday, April 13th.  We are already halfway through the week, but at least I didn't miss it entirely!

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Two library books for TWOsday

Yiddish Wisdom ~ illustrated by Kristina Swarner, 1996, 79 pages, 9/10

The humor of Yiddish is captured in this delightfully illustrated treasury more than a hundred folk sayings in both English and Yiddish.  These caught my attention:
  • "Still waters run deep" (p. 71).
  • "Jack of all trades, master of none" (p. 10).
  • "The ocean cannot be emptied with a spoon" (p. 55).
  • "If you eat a bagel, only the hole remains in your pocket" (p. 45).
I'd heard the first three, but that last one made me stop and think, since I don't put bagels in my pockets.  I now wonder how many bagel and donut holes I've eaten "around" (lol).

Pigs in Heaven ~ by Barbara Kingsolver, 1993, literaturary fiction, 343 pages

When six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen and her mother's belief in her lea to a man's dramatic rescue.  But Turtle's moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions.

Monday, April 8, 2024

This month, play and find JOY

I found something new (to me) on Deb's Readerbuzz blog: it's a Happiness Calendar for April.  Yes, I know we are already on the 8th day, but go ahead and look at the ideas.  (Click on it to enlarge it.)  Here are suggestions for each day's happiness:

April 1 ~ Find the humor in your day.
April 2 ~ Watch an inspiring movie. 
April 3 ~ Ask yourself how forgiving you are.
April 4 ~ Make a mini time capsule.
April 5 ~ Carve out some leisure time.
April 6 ~ Let go of your assumptions and see the people in front of you.
April 7 ~ Embrace the uncertainty of life.
April 8 ~ Spend time with your loved ones.
April 9 ~ See what you can learn from someone you disagree with.
April 10 ~ Journal about three good things that happened today.
April 11 ~ Ask for help when you need it.
April 12 ~ If you're feeling low, try helping someone else.
April 13 ~ Express your needs in a relationship.
April 14 ~ Plan three enjoyable things to do today.
April 15 ~ Connect with your curiousity for learning.
April 16 ~ Take a moment to appreciate the people who support you.
April 17 ~ Show solidarity by listening and hearing other groups' perspectives.
April 18 ~ Dance!
April 19 ~ Question the stereotypes you see in the media.
April 20 ~ Make time for play.
April 21 ~ Connect across age differences.
April 22 ~ Take a walk in nature to reconnect with Earth.
April 23 ~ Find a doctor who listens and cares.
April 24 ~ Remember to breathe when difficult emotions arise.
April 25 ~ Join an affinity group.
April 26 ~ Question your intuitions before you follow them.

April 27 ~ See the JOY in people around you.
April 28 ~ Be a responsible citizen.
April 29 ~ Feel your feet on the ground.
April 30 ~ Reflect on your life journey so far.

** I see my favorite word up there, and I'm sure you see it, too.  Yes, I enlarged it a bit, didn't I?

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Sunday Salon ~ and more coincidences

Shadow Tag ~ by Louise Erdrich, 2010, literary fiction, 272 pages
When Irene America discovers that her husband, Gil, has been reading her diary, she begins a secret Blue Notebook, stashed securely in a safe-deposit box.  There she records the truth about her life and her marriage, while turning her Red Diary — hidden where Gil will find it — into a manipulative farce.  The story alternates between these two records.

Meanwhile, Irene and Gil fight to keep up appearances for their three children:  14-year-old genius Florian, who escapes his family's unraveling with joints and a stolen bottle of wine; Riel, their only daughter, an 11-year-old feverishly planning to preserve her family, no matter what disaster strikes; and sweet kindergartener Stoney, who was born, his parents come to realize, at the beginning of the end.

Apple pie snack
 ~ When I checked Louise Erdrich's novel out of our Crown Center library yesterday, I went across the hall to the vending maching and got myself a snack to nibble while reading.  Don't laugh; it's fruit!

that I found online were so fun to read that I thought I'd share them with you.  Click HERE.  I found this perfect illustration HERE.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon
to share what we've read and done during the week.
Deb at Readerbuzz hosts the Sunday Salon

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Random stuff on Saturday

Spot the coincidence:  Photo (found HERE) of a trio of puppies in a litter.  Their mom had only three puppies in that litter.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Beginning ~ with a question to himself


Is love at first sight truly possible?
Sitting in his living room, he turned the question over in his mind for what seemed to be the hundredth time.

At First Sight ~ by Nicholas Sparks, 2005, fiction (North Carolina), 282 pages

A young couple's love faces the ultimate test when the past disrupts the life and family they've built together.

There are a few things Jeremy Marsh was sure he'd never do:  he'd never leave New York City; never give his heart away again after barely surviving one failed marriage; and, most of all, never become a parent.  Now, Jeremy is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, married to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the birth of their daughter.  But just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, an unsettling and mysterious message re-opens old wounds and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the course of this young couple's marriage.

Dramatic, heartbreaking and surprising, this is a story about the love between a man and a woman and between a parent and a child.  More than that, it is a story that beautifully portrays how the same emotion that can break your heart is also the one that will ultimately heal it.

While the novel picks up the tale of Lexie Darnell and Jeremy Marsh that started in True Believer and will delight fans of that novel, it stands on its own as one of Nicholas Sparks's most deeply moving love stories.
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Maya Angelou's connection to my town

Fun fact:  Today at lunch, when she saw I had that book below, my friend Alyssa asked me:  "Was Maya Angelou from St. Louis?"  I didn't know, so I googled it and found:  "On April 4, 1928, Marguerite Ann Johnson, known to the world as Maya Angelou, was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Due to her parents' tumultuous marriage and subsequent divorce, Angelou went to live with her paternal grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas at an early age."  I found this 2017 photo of her childhood home from St. Louis Magazine, HERE.

Today I am sharing quotes from two poems I want to remember from Maya Angelou's 1991 book of poetry I Shall Not Be Moved, that I wrote about earlier today, HERE.

"Human Family" (pp. 4-5):
. . . 
I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.
. . .
I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are are unalike. . . .

"Preacher Don't Send Me" (pp. 38-39):

Preacher, don't send me
when I die
to some big ghetto
in the sky . . .

I'd call a place
pure paradise
where families are loyal
and strangers are nice,
where the music is jazz
and the season is fall.
Promise me that
or nothing at all.


You know I notice coincidences, right?  When Alyssa asked the question that started my search, she noticed today is April 4th.  Look up there again.  When was Maya Angelou born?  April 4th!  We were discussing her on her 96th birthday.  She died on May 28, 2014, mere days before I moved to St. Louis.

Lots to think about from famous authors

Best-Loved Short Stories: Flaubert, Chekhov, Kipling, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Poe and Others (Large Print) ~ by Evan Bates, 2004, short stories, 336 pages

Here's a selection of great tales by American and European authors.  Eleven stories include F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," Guy de Maupassant's "The Necklace," Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat," Chekhov's "The Lady with the Toy Dog," and O. Henry's "The Furnished Room," in addition to works by Gustave Flaubert, Leo Tolstoy, Rudyard Kipling, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and Willa Cather.

I Shall Not Be Moved
~ by Maya Angelou, 1991, biography/poetry, 64 pages

This memorable collection of poems exhibits Maya Angelou's unique gift for capturing the triumph and pain of being black and everybody's struggle to be free.  Filled with bitter-sweet intimacies and ferocious courage, these poems are gems — many-faceted, bright with wisdom, and radiant with life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

National Walking Day

April 3rd is National Walking Day, so today let's walk!  That way, we join the American Heart Association by stepping out and (maybe) adopting a healthy habit.  Hey, puppy dogs aren't the only ones who need to go for a walk!  And if you've been feeling socially isolated, invite a friend to walk with you.  Do it anyway, because we all need to adopt the healthy habit of taking a walk.

How many steps are in a mile?  I googled to find out.  Based on an average step length of 2-1/2 feet, there are approximately 2,000 steps in one mile.  So that means when my phone recorded 10,452 steps the other day, I had walked over 5 miles.  Wow!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Two books for TWOsday

October in the Earth ~ by Olivia Hawker, 2023, literary fiction, 331 pages

Del Wensley, wife of the most celebrated preacher in Harlan County, tries to mind her place.  Until her husband’s infidelity pushes an already strained marriage to a breaking point.  Clinging to her last hope for self-respect, Del turns her back on the rigid life she’s known.  A coal train is rolling through the valley.  With her eyes wide open to the unfamiliar, and to the freedom she craves, Del takes to the rails.

Rumbling across America, Del is soon drawn into a transient community among outcasts ― and finds a special friend in Louisa Trout.  A nomadic single mother, Louisa teaches Del the ways of the boxcars and promises to help her reach a migrant enclave where Del can learn the skills she’ll need to survive.  But as they move forward together under desperate circumstances, even the closest of bonds threatens to break.

With the Depression taking its toll, Del must gather her strength and faith.  As she carries on toward one unknown after another, her life becomes a fulfilling, sometimes dangerous, and exhilarating adventure.  But no matter the risks, it’s a life that she alone controls.
The Four Winds ~ by Kristin Hannah, 2021, historical fiction (Texas), 464 pages

This powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope is set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921.  A time of abundance.  The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era.  But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak.  Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life.  With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice:  marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains.  Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open.  Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains.  Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa ― like so many of her neighbors ― must make an agonizing choice:  fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.

The Four Winds
is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it ― the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots.  A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, this book is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Active April

I haven't posted a calendar from the Action for Happiness folks in a long time.  Having just finished a month of Clean Speech St. Louis, this seems like a good time for me to continue focusing on making our world a better place.  Click on the calendar to enlarge it, and see the words along the bottom that say:  "Happier, Kinder, Together."