Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers

Make Your Home Among Strangers
By Jennine Capò Crucet
Picador, 9781250094551, July 2016, 416pp.

The Short of It:

A young woman is pulled between her family at home, her studies at school, and the political turmoil over the forcible removal of a young Cuban boy and his return to his father back in Cuba.

The Rest of It:

Many of you may recall the story of Elián González. He was the center of an international custody battle back in 2000. Make Your Home Among Strangers includes a fictionalized account of his story in the form of Ariel Hernandez.

Lizet is the first in her family to attend college but when she announces her acceptance, she is met with disappointment. Her sister just found out she is pregnant and Lizet’s mother was just left by her husband and the house has been sold out from under her. No one in the family is happy about this turn of events but Lizet is curious about a life outside of what she knows and goes, leaving some bad feelings behind.

At school, Lizet struggles. The schooling she’s had prior to college did not prepare her for the rigorous work that is expected of her. Her ties to home and the guilt she has over not helping her sister during this time, cause her to visit home often which confuses her more.

In the midst of all this, Lizet’s mother has joined with others to protest the removal of Ariel Hernandez. He lost his mother leaving Cuba and they feel that since he made it to the US, that he should be allowed to stay but the possibility of his removal looms large as the rest of the story unfolds.

This was a quick, one-two punch of a read. Crucet’s writing is genuine and thoughtful. Lizet is a very believable character. Not perfect, but trying. My discussion group chose this book for next week’s discussion. I had to go back to read up on Elián González because I had forgotten a lot of the particulars. Do you remember his story?

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Just Mercy

Just Mercy

Just Mercy
By Bryan Stevenson
Spiegel & Grau, 9780812984965, August 2015, 368pp.

The Short of It:

Haven’t seen the movie yet but the book will be one that I remember for a long, long time.

The Rest of It:

A long time ago, I was listening to a podcast and one of the people being interviewed mentioned Just Mercy as a book she would never forget. I immediately made a note to read it and then decided to pitch it for my book club to discuss. But then there was a school shooting and the meeting had to be rescheduled. Sad, but true.

So it should come as no surprise that Just Mercy is scheduled for this month’s discussion, right smack in the middle of a pandemic. I knew enough about the book to know that the topic is a heavy one. Bryan Stevenson’s fight to address Capital Punishment and how it affects minorities, the poverty stricken, and even young children, did not seem like a topic I could handle during quarantine but I didn’t want to postpone the discussion again so I dug in.

Very glad I did.

This is a book that everyone needs to read. Young, old, in school, out of school. I was expecting a very depressing read but this memoir, to my surprise, was not depressing at all. I found it to be full of hope. Stevenson’s passion for his clients and the way he often went above and beyond what is expected of a lawyer lifted me up in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Honestly, Stevenson is a form of superhero I can get behind. He is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and even that sounds formidable and it is.

His memoir covers many cases and challenges but centers around one particular client, Walter McMillan. McMillian had a solid alibi for his whereabouts the day a young woman was killed but it didn’t matter because the town needed a suspect and so the accusations stacked against Walter. How? Corruption, racism, people not wanting to be wrong.

When they say some people wear capes, I agree. Some do. Checkout Stevenson’s TED Talk and you’ll see what I mean.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.