An engrossing, entertaining psychological family drama centered on the important, often overlooked relationship between a...

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HARPER LEE AND PEPPERMINT CANDY

A troubled teenage girl and her grandmother bond through their book club as each faces a personal struggle.

Seventeen-year-old Megan is at it again: She cuts herself in order to be admitted to her favorite psychiatric unit. For her grandparents, Addie and Henry, it’s a familiar scenario that they would prefer Megan’s parents handle: “This time, Henry and I just want to be grandparents. Frankly, all of this has worn us out, and we just don’t have the energy any more to try to figure out what is real, what has been blown out of proportion, and what are just flat-out lies.” But Megan’s parents both decide they can’t handle Megan—her mother’s leaving town on a “spiritual journey” and her remarried father’s wife is having a baby—which leaves the difficult teenager with no one but her grandparents. The first few weeks of her hospital stay feature “four restraints, six seclusions, ten voluntary walks to the quiet room, two altercations with another patient in the dayroom, and two self-harm episodes,” attention-seeking behaviors typical of borderline personality disorder. This time, though, something seems different for Megan. She gains insight into her behavior, and she starts taking responsibility for her actions. She genuinely connects with Addie through their shared love of reading, and Megan successfully organizes a book club for the psychiatric unit. When Addie receives a sobering diagnosis, Megan finds that for once, she can be there for someone else. Debut author Hennessy knows her subject well; readers familiar with psych wards, their patients, doctors, nurses, techs and the forms of therapy employed there—good and bad—will find that every page rings true, down to the motivational posters written in glitter pen. The book club meetings make palpable the excitement of young people learning to unfurl a novel. More than that, Hennessy has created well-rounded, memorable characters who express themselves with intelligence and humor. Addie is especially down-to-earth and likable; in making an end-of-life decision, she tells her doctor, “Do all that you can do for the young, Scott; their dance card is wide open. Us? Our cards are pretty full, and I want to go out waltzing not crawling.” Megan’s recovery, though a little swift, is believable, and Hennessy successfully gets inside her head to show her somewhat-unhinged thought processes. By the end of the book, readers will find much to admire in a character who had seemed to be hopelessly self-centered.

An engrossing, entertaining psychological family drama centered on the important, often overlooked relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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