A disgraced teacher embarks on a bacchanalian journey to find himself.
On the surface, Brad Shepard’s life appears quite successful and fulfilling. He has a challenging, rewarding job teaching math to middle school kids; he also has his youth, a strong relationship with his parents and some caring friends. But when a tragedy befalls his classroom, Brad loses more than his job; he loses his sense of self. Rudderless for the first time in his life, he accepts an invitation to spend the summer in the Lake Erie island resort town of Put-in-Bay, Ohio. There, he quickly falls in with an eclectic cast of characters united by a singular desire to party. What follows is a booze- and drug-fueled odyssey during which Brad attempts to discover—or perhaps rediscover—his most authentic self. Although it’s tempting to read Brad’s angst as little more than bourgeois despair over a loss of respectability, Cooper’s earnest, often humorous prose keeps Brad’s quest light without sacrificing its poignancy. Still, readers may cringe at some of the more treacly passages; for example, after Brad repeatedly fails to convince others (and himself) that his time in Put-In-Bay is simply an opportunity to regroup, his realization coalesces a bit too neatly: “Maybe I had to become who I’m not to understand who I truly am.” His meandering summer near the site of the Battle of Lake Erie, which established the present-day borders of the United States and Canada, serves as a tidy background for his contentious but ultimately hopeful personal struggle. The stakes, like Brad, may be high, but they fail to galvanize a sense of anxiety in the text. Instead, readers are left with a lingering tedium, as the cycle of booze, drugs and sex repeats ad nauseam. A second tragedy serves to finally bring Brad back from the brink of despair, but for Brad, and readers, salvation arrives just in the nick of time.
A buoyant but overly earnest story of one man’s willingness to sacrifice everything in the name of self-discovery.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.