A loving and approachable coming-of-age story about generational change.

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Strict traditions face encroaching modernity in this memoir of a Muslim girl.

The author was a jeweler’s daughter in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, in the community of Galle Fort—at first blush, a traditional Muslim neighborhood. But in the 1950s, things were changing; already, the women of the island went out more than they had in years past and veiled themselves less. Before she reached the age of 12, Azad was allowed to spend time with her Christian friend Penny, ride a bicycle, and wear a bathing suit in public, and her doting, conservative father (whom she calls “Wappah”) was rarely unable to deny his daughter’s wants. However, her father still was committed to “the fierce protection of female honor” and still expected the women of his family to make a “good marriage,” so the author was “brought inside” when she came of age. But she was still interested in furthering her education and charmed by her English friends and Western comic books, so she hoped to attend university in the near future. But after her cousin ran off with a young man and Wappah reacted to the situation in an unexpectedly violent manner, subtle changes to custom and culture became more difficult to achieve. Azad’s debut memoir focuses on her memories of childhood and how she struggled against the more stringent aspects of her Muslim upbringing. However, her story is also the story of Galle Fort as the old-school residents struggled with young people becoming more Westernized. The setting is beautifully drawn, and its history comes alive. Just as important is the author’s father’s journey as a man who’s open to change but unsure of it. The book introduces many facets of Muslim culture with great respect, and Azad stingingly portrays Western prejudices, as when the author’s classmates face ridicule for using henna. She also relates her older family members’ opinions on such subjects as marriage while showing just how radical seemingly small changes can be in a traditional environment.

A loving and approachable coming-of-age story about generational change.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2020


Page Count: 249

Publisher: Perera Hussein Publishing House

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A well-written account about a young man’s mistake and the threat of dire consequences.


In this memoir, an American man recounts heading to Europe to see his German girlfriend and ending up on the wrong side of the law in Franco’s Spain.

Gorman was 19 years old in 1969 and dreading the thought of the Vietnam War draft. He had a girlfriend, a German exchange student named Hilke, who had encouraged him to meet her in Hamburg. Anxious to escape his rough home life, the author left Washington state and hitchhiked across America, getting into some precarious situations along the way. He made it to Europe via Icelandic Airlines, followed by more hitchhiking to Hamburg. Gorman was tall, blond, and young, but he wasn’t quite ready for the women he met on the way to West Germany, and he was only thinking of Hilke. Unfortunately, her reception was somewhat cool, so he ventured on to Paris and Barcelona, loving the sights but not the winter weather. A friend encouraged him to go to the Canary Islands, and the author readily agreed (“If Barcelona was dark and mysterious, Las Palmas was vibrant as it basked in a golden Impressionistic glow”). Las Palmas wasn’t very touristy yet; Swedish women lined the beaches; and the cost of living was cheap. Even so, Gorman was wayward, often slept on the beach, and some of his friends were sketchy. A Canadian lured him into a tricky insurance scam, which promised a decent payout but came with risks for a naïve person in Fascist Spain. The author’s wistful, graceful memoir harkens back to the days when Europe wasn’t completely overrun with tourists and the cultural norms were more clear-cut. His vivid, penniless romp around Europe included adventures both big and small, some danger, and the occasional kindness from strangers. It’s an engaging story that has enough unlikely details to seem believable, especially as he entered the Spanish prison system. Like many travelers, Gorman mainly associated with expatriates, so the local Canarian culture is left in the background.

A well-written account about a young man’s mistake and the threat of dire consequences.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-578-94847-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Rain City Cinema LLC

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2022

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A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.



A memoir offers vignettes from an entire lifetime.

In his latest work of nonfiction, Binder looks back on his life and renders several incidents and themes in a series of autobiographical stories. The author has led a picaresque life, with many adventures and crises, and he’s inserted many of these escapades into the entertaining, touching, and often enlightening tales arranged in these pages. He takes readers back to his childhood, painting affectionate portraits of the many people who influenced him while he was growing up. Binder includes a particularly memorable remembrance of his mother, who was felled by a serious stroke that robbed her of her speech (“Visiting her in the human warehouse they call a hospital, I’d point to letters of the alphabet printed on a card and she would blink to spell the word she wanted to convey”). He also gives readers a captivating, behind-the-scenes look at the famous child evangelist Marjoe Gortner. Binder worked on the crew that produced the Academy Award–winning 1972 documentary about Gortner’s illusion-dispelling revival tour, in which he exposed the deceits of his childhood ministry. The author watched all of this up close and relates it with enthusiasm and sympathy. (Sometimes a touch too much sympathy, since at one point even Binder seems convinced by the enthusiasm of the crowd: “I don’t believe in magic, nor do I believe in God, but I do believe in miracles. I witnessed one.”) Whether he’s recalling partying with Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson in Las Brisas, Texas, or recounting the fracas he and his partner got into in 1966 at the Albany Convention Center when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was speaking (“Reporters grabbed at our feet trying to trip us up and bring us down. They failed. I was exhilarated”), the author has clearly told most of these tales many times in his life. These written versions are fine-tuned to perfection and provide a large and constantly moving banquet of intriguing moments.

A fast-paced and boisterously readable assemblage of true stories.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9998695-5-0

Page Count: 363

Publisher: F-Stop Books

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2020

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