Monday, February 29, 2016

My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody

This sequel of sorts to the bestselling memoir, “Not Without My Daughter,” is full of local interest. Mahtob was the young daughter in that story, and her memories stretch from Tehran to Saginaw.

In 1984, Mahtob’s Iranian-born father took her and her mother to his homeland for what was supposed to be a short vacation with relatives. At the end of the two weeks, he confiscated his family’s American passports and told his wife and daughter they weren’t leaving – ever. Mahtob was very young at the time, but she remembers a lot from her eighteen months in Iran. She feared her father’s violence, and hated learning to chant “Death to America” in school. Mahtob returned home to Michigan at the age of six, where she attended elementary school under an alias, even as she appeared on national television to help her mother promote her book.

As the years passed, the fear that Mahtob’s father would reappear in her life lessened, but, by the time she graduated from Michigan Lutheran Seminary in 1998, the Internet had made it all too easy for him to find her from halfway around the world. The bubble of safety she thought she had made for herself suddenly collapsed. It took years for Mahtob to work through her childhood trauma and learn to get out from under her father’s long shadow, but, today – without condoning his actions – she celebrates her Persian heritage and her American freedom.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Jack Quinlan has secrets. Lots of secrets. Upon returning to his hometown after a close relative suffers a serious accident, the reality Jack has created and shared with his wife, Sarah, for years quickly begins to unravel. What really happened to Jack’s parents all those years ago? Just how much is Jack hiding? Sarah Quinlan must find out. But will she be able to fill in all the missing pieces before it’s too late? Sarah enlists the help of locals to get to the bottom of Jack’s dark secrets, which all seem to lead to the cellar in Jack’s childhood home. 
Reviewed by Jennifer Harden
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

To have a mental illness is frustrating - to the person who has one and very often to those around her.  Jenny Lawson has several, including OCD, ADD, depression and an anxiety disorder.  As bad as things can get at some times in her life, Lawson believes in seizing the moment and experiencing as many positive adventures as possible.  She calls this being “furiously happy”. 

 Lawson is a best-selling author and a well-known blogger and is often hilarious.  This book reads like a collection of blogs based on real episodes in her life; on the challenges of dealing with her mental illness, on her personal life and career, and on her relationship with her husband, Victor.  Her writing style is as exuberant as her ideas, and as intense.  It rushes along, full of almost manic energy and pulls the reader with it.  Some of the chapters are very funny, some deal with specifics of her mental illness and are so revealing and honest that they are painful.  

In Lawson’s words “…there is something wonderful in accepting someone else’s flaws, especially when it gives you the chance to accept your own and see that those flaws are the things that make us human.”
Lawson has succeeded in putting a very human face on the challenge of mental illness.  And she made me laugh while doing it.  Her book is available at the library in both print and ebook formats.

Reviewed by Kate Tesdell
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