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My College Reunion

On the second page of my college yearbook, a classmate stands in front of the Villanova University sign with his arms raised. The caption reads, “We Are the Champions!” In 1979, Freddie Mercury belted out the anthem in defiant confidence as my friends and I danced and celebrated our final days on campus.

We didn’t know what was in store for us as we headed out in different directions from the revered campus. We didn’t know we’d become champions and leaders in business, education, healthcare, government, and the law. We built careers on our high-quality education and promised to lead lives on faith-based ideals.

At our recent 40-year reunion, one friend put it simply: “We still have the same personalities as we did when we were in college.”

Thank you Villanova for paving the way to lifelong learning and rich, lifelong friendships.

Hopeful graduates in 1979
Reuniting at Villanova 40 years later

IGNITE CHANGE. GO NOVA.

A Sea of Poetry

My mother gave my daughters The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis when they were in their early teen years. She sought to inspire them with beautiful words that would lift their spirit.

Choose a collection of poetry that will enlighten you during National Poetry Month because April is the season of new beginnings.

Sea Joy

by Jacqueline Bouvier (1939)

When I go down by the sandy shore
I can think of nothing I want more
Than to live by the booming blue sea
As the seagulls flutter round about me

I can run about–when the tide is out
With the wind and the sand and the sea all about
And the seagulls are swirling and diving for fish
Oh–to live by the sea is my only wish.

 

Photo: Chatham, MA

Every Family Has A Story: Lively Book Club Meeting

I could feel the camaraderie among the women who invited me to their book club meeting last week to discuss Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir.

Their warm reception for my personal story made me feel deep gratitude. Before I sat down, some said they felt they already knew me.

One woman surprised me when she said she was familiar with the arcane therapeutic exercise known as patterning described in chapter two. Another said she frequently related to the loss of childhood I experienced because she lost her mother at age 10 and had to care for six younger siblings. Several women nostalgically remarked about the 1960-70s culture referenced in the book.

We shared laughs and many head nods of familiarity about our family members. These caring, intelligent women reminded me why I wrote the book: because every family has a story. You will find a way to relate, too.

Invite me to your book club. Contact me to arrange a date and I’ll attend personally or via FaceTime.

Top 10 Books of 2018

Historical fiction, literary fiction, and nonfiction are still the books I enjoy most.

If you liked All the Light We Cannot See (one of my all-time favorites), you will like:

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (now another all-time favorite)
and
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. The author of The Nightingale delivers another compelling story with a strong female protagonist.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. A gripping family saga about China/Korea relations in the early 1900s.

Published a long time ago, Pat Conroy’s
The Prince of Tides
and
The Water Is Wide
Having visited the low country of South Carolina made these stories vivid.

Educated by Tara Westover. Any memoir about a woman overcoming odds gets my vote.

Eunice by Eileen McNamara. I met the author at a local library where she signed my copy about this pioneering Kennedy.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Quirky and fun with a twist at the end.

Morningstar by Ann Hood. I related to this easy read about classic books that influenced the novelist.

What was your favorite book this year?

The Gift of Reading

I received an early Christmas gift with the judge’s reviews of my books that were entered in the Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest.

Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir

The author boldly, vulnerably shares what it is like to have a brother who is intellectually disabled. Her account is a warm, honest, raw, eye opening account of the effects her role as caregiver had on her as a child and as an adult. This duel timeframe gives the book a narrative richness but also a richness of insight for others who have lived through similar experiences. The opening scene showcases just how difficult and complicated this kind of life story can be, but the narrative overall brims with love, hope, and compassion. Alongside the story of her relationship with her brother, the author gives compelling insight into how to build and craft a sense of self when one’s identity is so closely linked with someone else. The pace of the narrative is smooth and swift, transitioning well between different time periods and themes. The narrative arc is strong even as the author embraces the complexity and open ended nature of a true life story. The story balances realistic dialogue along with exposition and summary to keep the story moving and give the narrative texture. For others in similar situations, her voice is a gift and a light. The cover photo aptly conveys the warmth and theme of the book.

Musing Off the Mat – memories and everyday moments

The author shares her life—her family, her hobbies, her positive world view—through a series of essays. The essays are uniquely the author’s, but themes of home, food, and family make it easy to relate to and feel connected with the author. The author’s voice is clear and brimming with personality, humor, and compassion. Not only does the author invite others into her life, but she also invites her audience to look at their own lives differently, with fresh eyes. The stories demonstrate a keen eye for detail and emotion, without being bogged down with description or sentimentality. The varying lengths of the pieces makes it easy to dive in and out of the book and hop around to different topics. The loose thematic organization gives the book just enough structure to hold it together without bogging it down. While the essays are focused on the author and her experiences, they also demonstrate a strong empathy for and attention to other people. The cover image aptly captures the tone and content of the book, and it has a very personal feel without making the book seem unprofessional or like a scrapbook.

Buy the books for your Secret Santa, Yankee Swap, or use as stocking stuffers. Because “every family has a story.”