An engaging, reality-bending tale with plenty of solid ground beneath it.

READ REVIEW

Too Far

Wild imagination and harsh reality collide in this childhood adventure story.

Shapero’s (Wild Animus, 2004) second novel describes the sort of childhood curiosity that leads to finding miracles everywhere. That primordial innocence rarely lasts, and even where it has space to flourish, the circumstances of life can conspire to end those moments early. Six-year-old Robbie and his best friend, Fristeen, navigate these difficulties as they explore the Alaskan countryside near their families’ homes. As often as they can, they travel past the hill, past the old tree named He Knows and through the crooked limbs of the Bendies to Too Far, their wonderland. It’s there that they can escape their declining family lives: Robbie’s parents find their love dissipating, while Fristeen’s mother, Grace, regularly neglects her in favor of pills or her destructive boyfriend. Shapero paints nuanced parental figures, providing small details that suggest deep emotion and genuine relationships. This is not a young person’s novel despite the age of its protagonists; it’s not always clear whom Shapero intends for his audience, which may create some unhappy readers who end up above or below its age range. Adult matters, including drugs and sexual innuendos, play a strong but subtle role. Many of these details emerge in Robbie and Fristeen’s play as the duo enacts their parents’ behavior, or in dreams, where Robbie encounters the sublime Dream Man and Fristeen, the resplendent Dawn. As the children struggle to cope and their parents no longer seem as powerful as they once were, Dream Man and Dawn fulfill a psychological need. Shapero displays an impressive command of the unconscious, but not at the cost of dramatic scenes. In the disintegration of Robbie’s parents’ relationship, plates fly and screams bellow; and the Alaskan wilderness hosts its own threats. It’s a world with great potential, but one that’s slipping away as these dangers creep in.

An engaging, reality-bending tale with plenty of solid ground beneath it.

Pub Date: June 6, 2010

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Outside Reading

Review Posted Online: June 27, 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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