Look beyond its misleading title; this potential sleeper hit has about as much to do with LSD as the French do with Cool...

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TRIPPING

FROM CLEVELAND TO PARIS AND BEYOND

A young woman’s search for purpose and identity takes her from her stifling, humdrum home in 1950s Cleveland to exhilarating Paris, where anything seems possible, in this novel cum travelogue by French-American expat and literary agent Fuerst.

When Barbara Glass graduates from Western Reserve in the late 1950s, there’s just one thing on her mind: Paris. Unlike the rest of her female contemporaries content with trading in their books for secure secretarial jobs, Tupperware parties and wedding bands, Barbara bucks convention (and her controlling mother’s interests) to embark on a solo adventure to France by boat, in the style of “la fuite en avant—escaping from something through forward movement.” What starts out as a two-week stint turns into more than 10 years in la Ville-Lumières (the City of Lights), as she slowly transforms from country-bumpkin tourist to full-fledged Francophile. Through Barbara’s increasingly enlightened and sophisticated eyes, readers will want to come along for the ride as Barbara “trips” from her first raucous Bastille Day celebration to the Palio horserace in Siena to an Edith Piaf concert at the famous Olympia concert hall to war-torn Algiers during Ramadan. Heartaches—her best friend’s suicide following a bout of postpartum depression and amphetamine withdrawal, a thrilling but ill-advised one-night fling followed by a risky abortion, a long-term and inevitably terminal affair with a married man, her father’s fatal heart attack—are sprinkled in for good measure, adding necessary depth and meaning to what could otherwise seem like a fluff piece about a privileged college girl’s adventures and misadventures abroad. Told in first-person and including details similar to Fuerst’s life (like her protagonist, Fuerst is from “the Mistake by the Lake” and spent more than 20 years living in Paris), it’s hard not to imagine the book as a quasi-memoir, especially since the descriptions of smells, sounds and sights teem with such life and verve so as to suggest firsthand experience. As an added bonus, Fuerst balances out the narrative with three chapters that give a sociological overview of the Silent Generation (Barbara’s generation and, presumably, the author’s). While these interruptions initially seem out of place within the confines of the story, the topics covered provide interesting cultural references (wool bathing suits, the publication of the Kinsey Report, Levittown) and insights into a generation that is often overshadowed or misunderstood.

Look beyond its misleading title; this potential sleeper hit has about as much to do with LSD as the French do with Cool Whip.

Pub Date: June 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615617459

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Dolmen Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2012

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.

SHOW TRIALS

HOW PROPERTY GETS MORE LEGAL PROTECTION THAN PEOPLE IN OUR FAILED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

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.

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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