The Seasons of My Mother by Marcia Gay Harden

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My Review:

In The Seasons of My Mother, Well known actress from stage and screen, Marcia Gay Harden, tells the story of her life in the context of memories she has with her mother. Their close relationship is so beautiful and all the more painful as her mother’s memory fades with the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Their mother-daughter bond is unbreakable and based on love, and due to the progression of the disease and the author’s fear that all would be forgotten, it became imperative that stories were recorded.

Remembering the past with family and friends is how we all stay connected, and I applaud Ms. Harden for writing this book honoring her mother, her wisdom, advise, strengths and hobbies in this loving tribute, so her mother can be known and connected to her children, grandchildren and those that come after, and the memories are never forgotten.

This memoir struck a chord with me because my father is living with dementia and although our situations are different, I know from experience, the disease hits hard, stealing memory little by little until there is no recollection of people, language, how to get dressed, how to eat, really anything at all…truly devastating for family and friends to see the person they know and love and not be recognized or acknowledged.

Marcia Gay Harden says “In this book, I do for my mother what she can no longer do. I remember.” I enjoyed getting a glimpse into Marcia Gay Harden’s life and background, and witnessing though stories their powerful mother-daughter relationship. I am a big fan and love her in the movie Pollock and on the TV series Code Black.

Goodreads Summary

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About Marcia Gay Harden Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

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That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam

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My Review:

Rebecca Stone desperately needs help with her newborn and Pricilla, a La Leche nurse from the hospital comes to her rescue.  Pricilla, having mothering experience herself as she was a single, teen mom many years ago, leaves her job at the hospital to becomes the nanny for Rebecca’s baby.  Rebecca feels close to Pricilla, confiding in her and voicing her fears, hopes and dreams while learning how to care for her child and what it means to be a mother; she looks up to her and relies on her stability and competence, and in some cases, due to the fact that Pricilla is black, she causes her to think about the world in a different way.  After an unexpected turn of events, Pricilla becomes pregnant, has the baby and then is gone, and Rebecca volunteers to adopt the newborn.  Rebecca feels this is the least she can do to thank Pricilla for all she has done.  But there is a lot Rebecca does not know about raising a child of a different race.  And she is blinded by her rose colored glasses when she looks at life.  

This story brings up a lot of questions and it is difficult not to pass judgement and have an opinion on Rebecca’s thoughts and actions.  Is she “saving” this black baby by bringing him into a white, wealthy family, or is she doing him a disservice by not allowing him to grow up with black parents who can teach him what it means to be black in America?  She doesn’t know much about being black; how to take care of black hair and skin, and she doesn’t think much about what prejudices he might face as a black man.  That Kind of Mother is about the challenges of motherhood, race and how family can be created without being blood related, but it is also commentary on selfishness disguised as selflessness, lack of understanding blinded by positivity and hopefulness for the future.

Rebecca’s view of her relationship with Pricilla is so much different than what I saw as a reader.  She believes they are connected, the closest of friends, and she feels loyal to Pricilla because of what she has been taught about mothering and due to the support she has felt from her during the most stressful part of her life when she was responsible for her brand new baby.  But my opinion is this:  the relationship was one sided.  Pricilla was doing a great job being a nanny, supporting the mother, teaching her how to care for her child, listening to her talk, and providing her with the time to be independent.  But did Rebecca know anything about Pricilla?  Her family?  Her home life? Her hopes and dreams?  Did she ever ask her? Rebecca may have been privileged – white, wealthy, recognized in her field, and able to provide an adopted child a financially solid home, but I believe this perceived friendship, combined with her own self centered outlook on life (regardless of race) misguided her and adopting this baby was not necessarily the best thing for him or for Rebecca’s family.

To give you something more to think about, this book was written by Rumaan Alam,  the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, married to a white man and raising two adopted black sons in Brooklyn, NY.  Alam does a great job writing from a woman’s perspective as he explores women’s friendships, describes giving birth, breastfeeding and articulating thoughts inside the head of a woman.  He also shows how families are formed in many ways and can be very different, but they all have things in common too.  Parenthood is a challenge no matter who you are, and acknowledging what you don’t know can be a good thing – often it takes a village.  I highly recommend this book, and particularly for bookclubs as it has so much to discuss.

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

My stories have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Meridian, and elsewhere. I’ve written on design and other subjects for the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and other places. I studied writing at Oberlin College. Now I live in New York with my husband and two kids. I am very good at building things out of Legos and making overly-complicated dinners.

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The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

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My Review:

The Nobel Peace Prize winning author and Holocaust survivor, Elie Weisel, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006 where Oprah played clips from an interview they had done on site at Auschwitz.  In addition, on the same episode, Oprah was recognizing fifty winners of a high school essay contest who had written about Elie Weisel’s Night and its’ current day relevance.  Clemantine Wamariya was one of the winners and was called up on stage to talk with Oprah.  Clemantine was a Rwandan refugee who, along with her older sister, was separated from her parents and feared they were dead.  For many grueling years the girls trekked through Africa during the genocide, escaping murderers and rapists, living in refugee camps and unsafe places, battling lice, starving and sleeping outside, and ultimately, after being granted asylum, ending up in the Chicago area and started new lives.  Clemantine has said that “Night was the door that opened up the world for me.  It made me feel not alone.  Wiesel had words to express experiences I couldn’t articulate.  He shared thoughts and feelings that I was too ashamed to name.”  Thinking she was on the show for her essay, she was in the front row and Oprah started asking her some questions about her family. Clemantine and her sister had not seen their parents since 1994, and in 2005, one year prior to this Oprah Winfrey Show episodehad learned they were still alive. On this day, as a surprise, Oprah brought Clemantine’s parents and younger siblings from Africa to Chicago and as a colossal surprise in an emotionally charged moment, she reunited them on stage.  See the video here.

The visceral joy we see in the video is the joy of a six year old girl being returned to her parents, yet the relationships of the family members had become much more complex due to everyone’s traumatic experiences of the past 12 years.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is Clemantine’s personal story; a six year old’s journey in war torn Africa, and coming of age as a teenager in the United States living with the demons of the past while searching for self worth and purpose in a country with unlimited opportunities and excess.  Clemantine’s story is just one of many who survived the genocide in Africa in the 1990s – so heartbreaking and also deeply hopeful. I am a huge fan of Clemantine’s, her strength and will to honor her experiences, create and stand up for her own identity, and her commitment to finding joy.  This is a must read!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco.

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The Ropes That Bind by Tracy Stopler

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My Review:

WOW! The Ropes That Bind is a heartbreaking, powerful and hopeful story of a woman’s journey and her quest for healing and growth after being sexually assaulted as a young girl.

As Tali crosses the street to get to her elementary school, a man in a white limo asks her for directions.  It is raining and he says she should get in to the car so she doesn’t get wet, and Tali wants to be helpful so she gets in and shuts the door.  For 3 1/2 hours she is missing and experiencing the unthinkable, but nobody knows.  Tali lives with this secret that perpetually tries to suffocate her inner light as she spends her life attempting to erase the pain and outrun the demons.  Her journey is remarkable and through several relationships, medical, religious and spiritual education, talk therapy and physical challenges, Tali reaches a place of acceptance, healing and the ability to move forward and make a difference.

Her continual search for answers, her pursuit for healing, validation and reasons to love and be loved, along with her inner strength, courage and never ending will to contribute to society in a positive way and help people, sets an example for all of us on how to live – how to break free from our own personal ropes that bind. Heartbreaking, terrifying and wonderfully inspiring, I highly recommend this fictional novel based on a true story.

Q and A with Tracy Stopler

I am lucky enough to have connected with debut author Tracy Stopler and had the wonderful opportunity to ask her a few questions about her incredible book and her very full life.

It is hard not to question the possibility that your main character, Tali Stark, might be you, Tracy Stopler.  Was Tali’s abduction and abuse experience your reality?

The simple and honest answer is yes, The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse, is based on an event that happened to me when I was nine years old. I first wrote this story as a memoir, but I had to create some scenes to move the story along and I felt it was more honest (and easier to write) once I called it fiction (“based on a true story”). With this being said, the majority of names have been changed but mean something to me as the writer. There are two exceptions: One, the names of the missing children; and two, the name of Tali’s colleague, Rich Faust, who was my dear friend, colleague and editor. Prior to Rich’s passing he told me that he wanted his real name to be used. Because he never got to publish his work on personality types, I was thrilled to honor his request. Some of the other characters are actually two or more combined personalities of people I know.

What part of Tali’s story is fiction? The relationship with her older mentor, Daniel?  The failed marriage to Stuart?  The relationship with the smart but slightly deviant Avi? Her ultimate reconnection with Alex?  The car accident, the hernia, the trip to Israel?

The relationship with her older mentor, Daniel is a true story and a true blessing.

Interesting how the term “failed marriage” still stings. This is mostly true and mostly a blessing. My own demons got in the way of more blessings, but I’m so happy that our friendship continues today.

The relationship with the (very) smart, (very funny) and (very) deviant Avi is also based on someone I know, but there is a lot of creative writing in this section. Here is where Tali learns to trust her intuition and chooses to walk away from love rather than stay in an unhealthy relationship. I was very proud of her ☺!

The reconnection with Alex is unbelievable, not only to me, but also to anyone who knows the story. In real life I had not been in contact with “Alex” in over 30 years. I wrote that entire section of the book as fiction with the exception of Tali’s dream of going to the 25th High School Reunion and reconnecting with Alex. (FYI: All of the dreams written in this book were real dreams of mine).  After the book was complete, but prior to publication, “Alex” called me (in real life). The only thought that came to my mind in that moment was the quote from The Ten Commandments. “So let it be written, so let it be done.”  

Moses (played by Charlton Heston): “… Let my people go.” 

Rameses II (played by Yul Brynner): “So let it be written, so let it be done.”  

I thought this real life reconnection was a beautiful coincidence. Not to ruin a happy ending for the readers, but, “Alex” and I were never romantic. But, don’t be sad, we are each in a healthy and happy relationship with other people.  

The car accident, the hernia on Mount Kilimanjaro and the trip to Israel are all true, but some of the dialogue on the mountain was creative writing and I did not take the Kabbalah class in Israel; I took it in New York. 

Tali doesn’t talk much about her relationship with her mother.  It seems like maybe her mother chose not to, or was not able to be as supportive as Tali needed.  Can you tell me more about that relationship?

Many mother-daughter relationships are complicated. Growing up, my relationship with my mom was no different. What I can say now is that we have a wonderful relationship. I know with 100 percent certainty that we both did the best that we could with the knowledge that we had. 

In many ways the childhood trauma made Tali more productive and focused. The obsession with keeping a list of abducted children was time consuming and I wondered if that made Tali feel she wasn’t alone or did it perpetuate her feelings of helplessness?

There is no right answer here. I want the reader to have their own opinion as to why Tali kept track of other missing children and whether or not it helped her to move forward. 

Often people who experience trauma turn to drugs alcohol or other addictions to escape the pain of the memories in an attempt to forget. Why do you think Tali was able to be focused on health and education and intellectual growth and understanding?

Tali may have passed the test of avoiding drugs and alcohol when she was in college, but she certainly had other obstacles. As the writer (and as a survivor), I wanted Tali to be in control. Tali wanted Tali to feel in control. But being and feeling in control are two different things. Hopefully the reader was able to follow Tali’s transformation.  

People often do big things to overcome inner struggles and climbing Kilimanjaro would be one of them. Was this accomplishment helpful for Tali in terms of moving forward?

Overcoming obstacles may require several steps. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was huge for Tali. Finishing this book was huge for me ☺. 

I enjoyed all the references to Judaism (you sparked my interest in Kabbalah and the ability to receive light and share it), I remembered much of the news you mentioned regarding missing children (and then realized my knowledge of AIDS/HIV in the 80s was limited, probably due to the stigma the disease carried and the assumptions about who had it and how it was transmitted), and joyfully recalled my own family memories at the mention of Allan Sherman (10 years ago I rebought My Son the Folksinger in CD form so I could listen in the car)…did you, Tracy, study Kabbalah, keep a list of the missing, do HIV/AIDS related research…and what was your research process for the book?

I hope seeing Allan Sherman’s name made you smile. I did study Kabbalah, but not in Israel (as mentioned in the book). I took classes in NYC, on Long Island and studied a lot on my own. Although I kept a list of missing children, I was not as thorough as Tali was. I think if I were actually keeping track of how many children were murdered, I would have become devastated. As a registered dietitian I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with patients living with HIV and AIDS. I did this twice – as portrayed in the story – once, right out of college when I worked at the Bronx VA Medical Center and then again, years later, when I took a position in Rockland County. The research for this book was never ending. Just when I was about to publish the story (for the first time), Jaycee Lee Dugard’s captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido was sentenced to 431 and 36 years respectively; another little boy, eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky from Boro Park, Brooklyn, went missing and was found murdered; on a happier note, Elizabeth Smart who had been missing for nine months was now on the cover of PEOPLE Magazine – she had just gotten married. And then there was the BREAKING NEWS; the craziness: Pedro Hernandez had confessed to murdering Etan Patz. This was followed by the three missing Cleveland girls found alive. It was such an emotional time and I couldn’t sleep. I just wanted the world to stand still for 24 hours. 

Your calling seems to be helping others who experienced childhood trauma and teaching, and you have done so much personal work to get to the place of comfort in having your voice be heard publicly…do you have any plans to tackle something huge like climbing another mountain or are you content with your current contributions to this world (and are they mutually exclusive?) 

Thank you, Jennifer. Like Tali, I have had many opportunities to physically climb other mountains and I have declined. I choose to channel my energy by paying it forward in helping others to find their voice. In doing so, I have truly summited. 

See Tracy Stopler’s Powerful Tedx Talk at Adelphi University Here.

Have you ever met any of the high profile abductees who were “found”, like Michelle Knight?

No, I haven’t met any survivors of childhood abduction, but I have met too many survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Remember, the percentage for child abduction and/or sexual abuse by a stranger is far lower (~7%) than the percentage by a known and trusted person (family member, teacher, coach, clergy, babysitter) (~93%).

Finally, was this book written solely as catharsis to help with healing, and do you have any plans to write another one?

I started journaling from the time I was ten years old. A lot of my writing from the past was adapted for this book. Finishing the story was a therapy assignment. At the time, it was part of the healing journey. I continued writing long after therapy and although it wasn’t always cathartic, I can honestly say that now that it’s done, and it’s helping others find their path to heal, nothing hurts! 

I have started another book. Although Tali is a character in the book, the main characters are her two precious dogs, Java and Binah (who are both mentioned in The Ropes That Bind). This light-hearted story is a memoir written in the voice of both Java and Binah. Unlike writing The Ropes That Bind, this book is so much fun to write. I truly love being inside the head of the different dog characters. Although this is a completely different book than my first, it still has life lessons for both parents and children. 

The Ropes That Bind by Tracy Stopler received the 2017 Independent Press Award and the NYC Big Book Award for “Distinguished Favorite” in the category of Women’s Fiction.

See The Ropes That Bind Book Trailer Video Here.

 

Child Sexual Abuse Statistics (as stated in The Ropes That Bind):

Child sexual abuse is an underreported crime.  The vast majority (86%) is never reported.

As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men report being sexually abused before the age of 18.

Disabled children are 4 to 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse.

90-93% of the perpetrators are known to their victims.

Children rarely make up accusations of sexual abuse.

 

Goodreads Summary

 

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About the Author:

Tracy Stopler, M.S.,R.D., is a registered dietitian, with a Master of Science in Nutrition from New York University, and the nutrition director at NUTRITION E.T.C. in Plainview, New York. Her areas of expertise include Clinical and Sports Nutrition and Mind/Body Medicine.

Tracy has been an adjunct nutrition professor at Adelphi University for 20 years and has published extensively on the topic of nutrition and exercise. She earned her certificate in Clinical Training for Mind/Body Medicine from Harvard Medical School. As a pastry chef, she modifies traditional recipes for those with dietary restrictions.

Tracy is passionate in her role as the Enough Abuse Campaign Coordinator at The Safe Center on Long Island. With a dedicated team of volunteers, she helps to bring child sexual abuse awareness to the public. Prior to this role, Tracy served as a volunteer SAFER Advocate (Survivor Advocate for Emergency Response) and as a child victim’s advocate, working with abused children and their non-offending family members.

Tracy’s favorite personal achievements have been summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and completing her award-winning debut novel, The Ropes That Bind: Based on a True Story of Child Sexual Abuse.

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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My Review:

LOVED THIS BOOK! The Great Alone is an epic story of love of family and love of home –  full of emotion with picturesque descriptions of the beautiful and dangerous Alaskan landscape and the depiction of a non traditional way of life. Powerful and heartbreaking, author Kristin Hannah tells the story of passionate yet struggling husband and wife, Ernt and Cora, and teenage daughter Leni in 1974, showing the capacity for endurance, tolerance, strength, and dedication to family.

When Ernt returns home after being a POW in Vietnam, he is not the same happy husband and father he once was.  Angry and on edge, privately suffering, he is continually searching for freedom, a new and peaceful place to call home with his supportive wife and young daughter.  A perfect opportunity arises and he impulsively moves his small family to a remote village in Alaska.  With no running water or electricity, wild animals and harsh weather, this new way of life is focused on survival, and with some reservations but with dedication and devotion, 13 year old Leni and her mom, Cora are supportive and go all in.  With support from the small, neighborly Alaskan community, they learn to hunt and live off the land and adapt to the challenging lifestyle in hopes of having a happy family life.

When the endless Alaskan summer days turn dark and frigid, Ernt’s PTSD is triggered and his anger and violent behavior put Leni and Cora in grave danger.  Living in isolation, with secrets and fear, mother and daughter must be physically and mentally strong and make some life changing decisions before it is too late.   The hopes for fresh beginnings and endless love turn to misguided obsessions and uncontrollable domestic violence, causing a whirlwind of emotions and making this an exceptional book.

If you loved The Nightingale, where Kristin Hannah shows us the strength of brave women risking their lives for others in the French Resistance in World War II, you will love The Great Alone, fiercely independent women who fight to survive, risking their lives for the love of family, community and each other.  A story of resilience, nature and human nature, this is a must read!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.

Kristin’s highly anticipated new release, The Great Alone, was published on February 6, 2018 (St. Martin’s Press). The novel, an epic love story and intimate family drama set in Alaska in the turbulent 1970’s is a daring, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival and the wildness that lives in both nature and man. It has been listed as one of the most anticipated novels of the year by The Seattle Times, Bustle.com, PopSugar, Working Mother, Southern Living, and Goodreads.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with award-winning director Michelle MacLaren set to direct. Home Front was optioned for film by 1492 Films (produced the Oscar-nominated The Help) with Chris Columbus attached to write, produce, and direct. Movie news on The Great Alone is coming soon.

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The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner

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My Review:

Kick off your summer reading list with The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner, author of The Forever Summer, one of last year’s favorite beach reads. 

There is nothing like young love that has so much passion and hope for the future. In this powerful story of love and loss that takes place at the Jersey Shore, teenage Lauren commits her heart to high school ice hockey star Rory, and with stars in her eyes she expects a long life of togetherness and fun. The college years separate them by distance and they struggle to keep their connection.  Against all odds the two get married but Lauren’s plans to be together don’t work out the way she expected.  Rory heads to the NHL, is a star player, and then suffers a concussion.  His hockey career ends abruptly and he joins the military while Lauren is left behind trying to justify and come up with explanations for his questionable decisions and behaviors leading to his departure.   She is angry and their relationship is on the rocks…and then he dies in combat.

Lauren, now a young widow, has been living at the shore in her grandparents’ beach house for the past four years paralyzed by her guilt and confusion regarding the downfall of her marriage and the death of her husband, avoiding the challenges of moving on with her life, when her parents and older sister and young son decide to spend the summer with her to work out their respective life problems.  Not accustomed to company, Lauren is unhappy with the intrusion and to make matters worse, a film maker has tracked her down to interview her for his movie about the life of her hockey and military hero husband.  Living a reclusive life, Lauren has avoided speaking publicly about her high profile husband, but as the persistent filmmaker, Matt, begins to pursue Lauren and her sister for information, buried secrets are revealed, one so drastic it could change everything. 

With suspense and secrets, The Husband Hour is about love and loss, deceit, healing and forgiveness.  Last summer I read and enjoyed The Forever Summer, and now Jamie Brenner treats us to another heartfelt story centered around family and the bonds that hold them together.  Put a copy in your beach bag!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Jamie Brenner grew up in suburban Philadelphia on a steady diet of Norma Klein, Judy Blume, and Judith Krantz novels (more on that here).  After studying literature at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Jamie moved to New York City where she started her career at HarperCollins Publishers, then later Barnes&Noble.com and Vogue.com before returning to books and becoming an author.  Her novel The Forever Summer is a national bestseller. Her new book, The Husband Hour, publishes April 24 with Little, Brown.  Jamie  lives in New York City with her husband and teenage daughters.  For contact info, tour dates, and book clubs please visit www.jamiebrenner.com

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White Houses by Amy Bloom

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My Review:

I haven’t stopped thinking about this gem of a book, the powerful telling of an unconventional love story by author Amy Bloom.  White Houses is historical fiction, based on research and letters exchanged between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, a journalist who was invited to live in the White House in an adjoining bedroom to the first lady’s room during FDR’s presidency.  A story of soulmates – two, independent, bright and powerful women in a lesbian relationship – a hidden secret to the world yet happening right in front of everyone’s eyes and seemingly accepted, by Eleanor’s known to be philandering husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and their close social circle.

Lorena Hickok grew up in poverty in South Dakota and became a well known reporter.  She met Eleanor in the early 1930s while covering the Roosevelt campaign and the two women develop a friendship that flourished into a more intimate relationship.  Hick was a protector and admirer of both FDR and Eleanor and was forced to quit her high profile job at the Associated Press in order to stay true to them both.  The middle aged women’s relationship was challenging, complicated and on again off again, and with Eleanor in the public eye, there was pressure to withhold affection and then steal time away privately to be together.  FDR and Hickok had a friendship and an understanding, and Eleanor had loyalties to them both.

The complexities of this enduring love between this unlikely twosome is intriguing and author Amy Bloom has created a compelling story with a strong voice and beautiful writing.  Don’t miss this one!

Goodreads Summary

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About the Author:

Author of two New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, a children’s book and a ground-breaking collection of essays. She’s been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, O Magazine and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages.

She has written many pilot scripts, for cable and network, and she created, wrote and ran the excellent, short-lived series State of Mind, starring Lili Taylor. She lives in Connecticut and is now Wesleyan University’s Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing.

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A Marriage in Dog Years by Nancy Balbirer

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My Review: 

AVAILABLE IN JUNE! PRE-ORDER NOW! Author Nancy Balbirer takes us with her on the rocky journey of life as we see her joy filled marriage filled with hopes and dreams blossom then fizzle, at the same time her beloved, terminally ill beagle, Ira struggles to defy the odds and live another day.  From LA to NYC, single to married with a child, from puppy to old dog, and dreams of second chances, so much of life’s ups and downs happen and Nancy keeps you laughing through your tears.

A Marriage in Dog Years is a touching true story is told with honesty and humor, stirring up so many different feelings including love, anger, forgiveness and hope, well written in the author’s unique voice. Balbirer’s story is reminiscent to Sarah Jessica Parker’s hit show, Divorce on HBO – the good, the bad and the ugly truth about the slow death of a marriage, a complex relationship crumbling with regrets and infused with hope for peace and a bright future, with the added bonus of actual puppy love – unconditional and unwavering mutual support and devotion in man’s/woman’s best friend. If you love love, and if you love your pet, this emotional ride is for you!

Amazon Prime members can download A Marriage in Dog Years for FREE on May 1st and Book Nation by Jen will be hosting a GIVEAWAY for a copy hot off the press COMING SOON!

As Seen on Goodreads:

When Nancy Balbirer learns her beloved eleven-year-old beagle has kidney failure, she’s devastated. She and her husband had gotten Ira as a puppy—a wedding gift to each other, and their first foray into “parenthood.” Now, her dog is terminal, her marriage is on life support, and Nancy is desperate to save them both (whether they want it or not). In a single year, she loses her two best friends, but Nancy’s life is about to take yet another unexpected turn.

With humor and heart, Nancy Balbirer shares her story of relationships, loss, and canine friendship in this illuminating memoir about the lengths people will go to keep love alive…and the power of finally letting go.

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About the Author:

Nancy Balbirer is a writer and performer of stage and screen. She is the author of “Take Your Shirt Off and Cry.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

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*SPECIAL GIVEAWAY* UPDATE: Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais WINNERS are Linda J. and Book Gypsy!

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This is one of my favorites (my review is here) and I have 2 copies to give away to lucky winners!  How to enter:

1. Like Book Nation by Jen Facebook page
2. Like and Share this post
3. Tag a reader friend
*bonus if you sign up to receive my blog Book Nation by Jen via email
Good Luck! Winners will be chosen by Friday 5pm.  (US residents only)

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