A colorful portrait of the rhythms and textures of Zonian life, with little investigation of the underlying politics.

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CANAL ZONE DAUGHTER

AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD IN PANAMA

An evocative account of growing up in the Panama Canal Zone during the last years of U.S. control over the key waterway.

Deep in the Panamanian jungle, the Panama Canal Zone was a small slice of America, where U.S. workers employed in operating and maintaining the key isthmian waterway lived with their families. In 1970, about 45,000 “Zonians” lived amid a total Panamanian population of 1.5 million. Judy Haisten’s poignant memoir describes her experience growing up a Zonian between 1964 and 1977—the year President Jimmy Carter signed the treaty ending U.S. control over the canal. For Haisten, the Zone was a tropical paradise in which “[l]ife patterns...were planned, organized, and structured, while the jungle promised chaos, confusion, spontaneity.” With wry humor and vivid detail, she presents a series of Zonian-life vignettes, from dodging bats in the only movie theater in her town to chasing a stray parrot, staring down a crocodile and running away from a boa constrictor. Her prose is as steamy as the humid Panama climate: “Mealy water bugs” skim the surface of a pond where alligators breed, and “[f]oamy masses of frog eggs [float] close to the bank.” There are also visits to the primitive settlements of two indigenous tribes, including the half-naked Choco Indians. “I felt as if I had stepped into the pages of the National Geographic magazines we received at home in the mail,” Haisten recalls. The idyll ends abruptly with the canal treaty, under which the Zone, as a political entity, ceased to exist on Oct. 1, 1979. “America had lost a piece of herself,” Haisten laments, her dreams of raising her own children in the Zone dashed. But like the water bugs, the author skims the surface: Her focus on Zonian life is so tight that she doesn’t explore the palpable tension of the U.S. presence in Panama, which was established under a 1903 treaty that many Panamanians viewed as imperialistic. The host country is just “a welcome part of our lives,” while her encounters with Panamanians are limited to her family’s housekeeper, bus drivers and salesmen at an auto dealership she visits with her mother. She chastises President Carter for going back on his word to protect Zonians, but she fails to acknowledge that they always lived in Panama on borrowed time.

A colorful portrait of the rhythms and textures of Zonian life, with little investigation of the underlying politics.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1614930853

Page Count: 290

Publisher: The Peppertree Press

Review Posted Online: July 23, 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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