Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Reading allows us many pleasures aside from the enjoyment of good story. It can allow us a peek into another world or in the case of the following two titles, another person’s life. Both of the following are autobiographies from authors whose lives have given them very different points of view.

To say that Jeanette Walls grew up in unusual circumstances would be an understatement. Her parents, a frustrated artist mother and alcoholic father, had a very relaxed attitude when it came to raising children. The kids were pretty much left to fend for themselves because as mother Rose Mary puts it “….kids learn from their mistakes.” Those kids learned how to get the food, though sometimes from trashcans, the clothing they needed, to keep a run-down house from collapsing as well as how to dodge the authorities. What Walls shares in THE GLASS CASTLE is the tale of a journey through childhood that most would consider a nightmare and her ultimate escape from poverty which she tells in a voice that belongs not to a victim but a victor.

Deborah Rodriquez gives us a very different look at Afghanistan that we get on the nightly news in her book KABUL BEAUTY SCHOOL: AN AMERICAN WOMAN GOES BEHIND THE VEIL. She left her family and business behind in Michigan to join an independent aid mission to teach local women beauty techniques that would enable them to open their own salons creating additional income for their families. Overcoming the many cultural and physical obstacles as well as the opposition of the local government Deborah and her students manage to triumph. The real heroes of this story are the students who sometimes took great risks to gain their independence with comic relief is supplied by their intrepid American teacher.

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