Celebrating Best Buddies

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Best Buddies International, a remarkable organization that unites volunteers and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for one-on-one friendships. Their mission is to promote inclusive living through advocacy, employment, and personal and social relationships.

My daughters became Best Buddies in high school because they were inspired by the unique abilities of their uncle. Now in their twenties, I admire the compassion and patience they have for people with different abilities, and especially for my brother who enriches our family every day. Whether we’re working on a jigsaw puzzle together or chatting about golf, Jimmy reminds me how lucky I am to be his sister.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with Best Buddies. Find a program near you.

Jimmy is a wizard with jigsaw puzzles, showing deep concentration and persistence. He taught me to solve problems by looking at them from different angles.

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.

An Unlikely Reader

I was glad to see old friends and meet new readers who were interested in learning about my books at the Chelmsford Public Library. Some purchased for their own reading pleasure and others bought for holiday gifts.

At the end of the author event, a 16-year-old timidly approached my table. The young man worked at the library and said he’d come across my memoir in the stacks but was not allowed to read while on the job. He said he’d read the first few pages, was intrigued, and decided to check it out of the library. Then he asked me thought-provoking questions about my story. I was touched by this unlikely reader.

Here was a shy young teen who could have stopped at any author table to read about what I assumed interest teens: paranormal, fantasy, science fiction. However, this gentle soul told me he wanted to learn about the history of people who have been marginalized in society.

As I left the library, I felt flattered to see the inspiring young man carrying my book.

He reminded me of a lesson learned long ago and is worth repeating: never judge a book by its cover.

My Summer Reads (so far)

Whenever I read a good book, I have to share. Here are a few that I enjoyed so far this summer. Maybe you’ll like them, too.

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
In the early 1940s, a wealthy French industrialist commissions an architect to design hiding places for Jews inside palatial homes around Paris. Great characters, plot, and subplots. How far would you go to save your neighbor?

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
A story of survival about a young girl who moves to the Alaskan bush with her crazy father and submissive mother. Rich description of the beauty and brutality of Alaska.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
A reclusive British woman with an unfortunate past and a quirky personality finds friendship in unlikely places. Comical scenes and dialogue, with a twist at the end.

Educated by Tara Westover
Memoir about a young girl living with a dysfunctional family in isolated Idaho. Without any formal education or socialization, she rises to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. This is a story of courage and survival.

What books do you recommend?

Books and Family

What a fun time in Boston last Saturday night. I AM Books, a unique bookstore in the heart of the North End, hosted me for a book event. I was thrilled to read and discuss Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir. 

Libri e famiglia. Two of my favorite things. The story about my family was warmly received in this friendly shop.

Stop by I AM Books, an Italian American cultural hub of Boston, and pick up a copy of my book. You’ll laugh, cry, and nod your head in agreement.

Grazie Nicola and Sabrina!