A sensitive self-portrait of a wife-turned-widow and a town shaken by senseless tragedy.
In her debut memoir, Barkman describes her 47-year marriage to her husband, Leon, including the difficult months following his death. She also documents the death of little Robin, the son of a family friend who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. With a tearful aimlessness, the author documents the grief following the losses of Leon and a boy she considered her grandson. She copes with the tragedies by creating routines of meals and chores, recording her thoughts in a journal, and staying connected to friends and family through endless email dispatches, many of which appear in this book. She puts an emphasis on her own physical and mental health to demonstrate how routine and creativity brought her back from the brink of breakdown. The sometimes-tedious journaling weighs down the narrative, but Barkman interweaves these emotionally charged memories with meditations on nature (including her and Leon’s shared passion for birding), asides on hobbies such as painting and yoga, and affably chatty small-town gossip. She also intersperses the story of Newtown residents coping with the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shooting with memories from her decades with Leon. From their first days as free-spirited hitchhikers in 1960s Europe to their golden years hiking and biking all over the East Coast, Barkman stipples their journey with the details that define a relationship: the sayings, habits and particulars that anyone in a long marriage will recognize. Her frank discussion of their relationship’s rocky stretches create a cracked but honest portrait, with shades of mourning that blend, intensify and fade over time.
A conflicted, wistful tribute that will resonate with readers who have felt love and loss.
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.