In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

27 March, 2008

Bokk Review: A Place to Belong by Paul Miller

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

When eight year old Paul sees his parents returning early from a trip to Florida, the last thing he expects to hear is that his family will be getting smaller, as he and his parents move to Florida. The move means leaving his older siblings (who are married or grown enough to support themselves), and his mentally disabled brother Johnny in Detroit, MI. Paul finds his world spiraling out of control as the move to Florida turns into a zigzagging trip across the country. When they reach California, life settles down enough to allow Paul to return to school, make friends, and hope that the constant uprooting will end.

Then Paul’s mother dies, leaving him with a father who is becoming more violent, and unstable. Believing that his wife had been cheating on him, and that Paul knows who the supposed boyfriend is, he beats Paul for not answering his questions. Paul, deciding enough is enough, borrows the bus fare back to Detroit from one of his older brothers. Unfortunately for him, no one in his family wants him back.

So, he lives in an unhappy situation at his sister Mattie’s house until he finds himself with a choice to make. To stay in Detroit, living with family who don’t want him, or to move to Dearborn, MI and become the foster child to a childless couple named Montayne. Paul chooses the latter, moves and stays with them for a year, until his itch to wander kicks in, along with the slow failure of the Montayne’s marriage.

Paul leaves to hitch hike across the country. He goes from Michigan south, and then heads west again. Finally he finds himself back in California, in the town where his mother died, and his father still lived. Paul was given a chance to try and come to some closure with his father, find out why they had moved so much and to try and find what he wanted with his life.

A Place to Belong is a story of a young man whose life has been turned into turmoil.
We witness Paul as he deals with abandonment as his parents leave him alone for days and weeks at a time, and slowly get caught up in a life of petty theft. It isn’t until Paul meets some very spiritual people in his travels that he starts praying to a god that has suddenly become a more friendly and approachable being. This book deals with some pretty heavy issues as Paul struggles to find the strength in him, and a place where he will finally belong. I found the book to be gripping, and found myself feeling for Paul as his travels bring him from a confused boy of eight to a sixteen year old finally finding his place in the world.

20 March, 2008

Book Review: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

"The Middle Place is about calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork—a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns—clearly indicates you're an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you're still somebody's daughter." – Kelly Corrigan

Thirty-six year old Kelly Corrigan was living a very content life. She had a job she enjoyed, a wonderful husband, two beautiful young daughters, and a great relationship with her family. Then, one evening she discovered an unexpected lump in her breast. Before long, she found herself facing the results of many tests – she had breast cancer. Kelly, who still considers herself George Corrigan’s daughter, finds herself facing her middle place. Before starting chemo treatments, Kelly draws a cacoon of safety around her – her family, her friends, and her desire to survive. She plans a the cancer is gone party for one year after her diagnosis, and calls back home to her parents.

Kelly’s life becomes a changing one of chemotherapy, loss of hair, weakening body as she goes through treatments, and through it all her strength is supported by her husband Ed, and her father. However , six months into her treatments, Kelly finds herself facing a phone call of her own. Her father has been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Suddenly, she finds herself plaugued with worries about not only herself, but her father as she tries to help support her parents from the opposite side of the country.

The Middle Place, is a journey through illness, and health, where strength and support are. found in places that the author does not expect. Kelly Corrigan writes a memoir that is both humerous, as well as thought provoking. She makes her readers feel like they are a part of her family, sharing her stories of growing up and her recovery from cancer with honesty, humor, and a fantastic flair for storytelling. I started the book on a day I was myself laid up with the flu, and found myself engrossed by it. It made me laugh, as well as bringing me to tears as the subjects of love, family, friendship, illness, cancer, and even death are touched on.

13 March, 2008

Book Review: In Search of Molly Pitcher by Linda De Pauw

Read and reviewed for Front Street Reviews

When eight grader Peggy McAllister reads about the Rattletop Award, a prize awarded to a graduating eighth grader for excellence in social studies, in her local paper, she knows, this is something she wants to win. So when her social studies teacher mentions the contest to his class, in conjunction with a required research paper as part of the class’s coursework, Peggy picks the name that draws her attention most from the list of possible paper subjects handed to the students.

Despite her teacher’s misgivings, Peggy decides to do her paper on a little known subject, the female revolutionary war hero Molly Pitcher. Peggy, with the help of her grandfather, and his friend - local historian Mrs. Spinner sets out on her research. Peggy finds that there is not a lot known about Molly Pitcher, the books she finds about her subject are few and varied from children’s literature to out of print and rare books. Armed with her box of index cards, Peggy finds herself tracking down information through old newspaper accounts, the few books with solid information, and records of first person testimony as she tries to separate fact from misinformation through the tangled records of the past. Will Peggy find enough to write a strong paper, and win the first Rattletop Award?

In Search of Molly Pitcher does several things with its story. The book introduces readers to how research is conducted, the differences between primary and secondary sources for information, and ways to keep research organized. The author’s interest and background as a historian shines through the story, and makes the book an enjoyable read. Searching for Molly Pitcher has a strong plot, which is an enjoyable one to read. It introduces a not as well known historical figure in a way that makes the history of her life exiting, and not boring. This is a great introduction to the Revolutionary War, and the process of researching and writing a research paper.