THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE by Mary Pipher

THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE

The World’s Refugees Come to Our Town

KIRKUS REVIEW

Part survival manual, part tales from the front lines of refugee life in America, Pipher (Another Country, 1999, etc.) surveys the refugee scene in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The author’s hometown has been a settling area for refugees because of its low unemployment and reasonable cost of living, and it has enabled Pipher to work with refugees and gain an understanding of their predicament. Here, she tenders suggestions on how to survive in the US and also includes anecdotal material giving a taste of what it’s like to be a refugee: “Imagine yourself dropped down in the Sudanese grasslands with no tools or knowledge about how to survive. . . . Unless a kind and generous Sudanese takes you in and helps you adjust, you would be a goner.” Much of Pipher’s take on refugee life is plain commonsensical: transplanted from absurd, grotesque, punishing, often terrifying circumstances, refugees experience problems of trauma and stress, acculturation, expression, and identity. While many feel possibilities unfolding, others have a deep malaise. They are here because our nation has a tradition for empathy—sometimes not immediately visible, sometimes selective, typically fraught, but undeniable—and it is making America, in the best sense, “a richer curry of peoples.” As well as offering stories of refugee experiences—charted in groups by age: the young, adolescents, early adults—Pipher details attributes that will give refugees a leg up (attentiveness, flexibility, character, resilience) and includes a long list of things Americans can teach them—from how to feed a traffic meter to where to go with INS problems—that is the real deal when it comes to empathy.

If only a fraction of the advice in this valuable book were followed, cross-cultural compassion might become much more than just a handful of words beginning in C.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-100600-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2002




MORE BY MARY PIPHER

NonfictionTHE GREEN BOAT by Mary Pipher
by Mary Pipher
NonfictionWRITING TO CHANGE THE WORLD by Mary Pipher
by Mary Pipher
NonfictionLETTERS TO A YOUNG THERAPIST by Mary Pipher
by Mary Pipher

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