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THE SILENCE OF MORNING: A Memoir of the Time Undone ~D.A. Hickman

Monday, April 11th, 2016

“Despite a crushing loss…here we have a warmth of spirit, understanding and compassion in a distancing world.”  (Madeline Sharples – from cover)

I believe that there is a need within each of us to read this book.  Yes, it is a well written memoir with lovely poetic sentences and descriptions, it is a poignant telling of a son’s life, it is a sociologic study of our society and culture, and most of all it is an amazing tribute to  a mother’s grief and the deepening of a spiritual journey into an awakening.  THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a book we need.

Suicide is a difficult end to a life and even with a note; there is rarely a possibility of verifiable understanding.   What was the truth of this life or this moment, which made the decision possible?   What enabled suicide’s success?  How will a Mother/ Parents and family create the mythology to answer all the questions or create the story that will bring release to the grief and sorrow?  Dare I intimate that there might be a letting go of the life and only memory left?

We are also drawn into a study with all the pomp and considerations of a master research paper.  We are invited to take a look at schools now and then.  We can observe the role of teachers and philosophy of schools and how the child will react or would have been received differently now.  Hickman catches the restlessness of a generation and the incredible work an educational system must engage in to meet the needs of children and get the “job done” for a future of usefulness and output with reward.   The study looks at the War on Drugs and how the need for entertainment grows and grows along with the lure of the “high” and the demands of addiction.  How does a society remedy this dis-ease and free the individual caught within its seductive nets?  Have we learned and do we know how to stop the progression?  Are we as a people all addicted to something?

There are nearly perfect descriptions in this telling of landscape and interactions and just beautiful memories of family – breathtaking.  There is a poetry of words and pivotal theological quotes and explanations.  Reading can free tears.

This is memoir which asks the tough questions, puts words to grief and opens the heart to an exploration of the depth and width of personal growth and spiritual path-finding and it is “Holy and beautiful and heartbreaking.” (Cover quote)

In the author’s own words:  “How do we better understand the human condition, the quest for inner peace?  How do we tap into the deeper mysteries, embracing challenge and loss as we go? How do we distance ourselves from a malcontent culture focused on excitement, escape, and excess?  And despite it all, how do we deepen our perspective…commit to sustained personal growth?”

“I will always be a dedicated student of society looking for the essential story, the universal message: a path with less suffering, deeper awareness.  Everything we experience is a reflection of the human struggle to somehow right itself against the rocky waves of time.  So on and on we walk…always into a deeper version of ourselves.”

Hickman’s Blog:  SunnyRoomStudio.com
Hickman’s Facebook

THE SILENCE OF MORNING is a part of my personal library and I am delighted to be sharing it with you.  I think we all need to read this memoir.

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The Myths of Happiness
NEW: Understanding our need for Novelty and Change
Now Everyone Will Know

HIDDEN INHERITANCE: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith ~Heidi B. Neumark

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

I was drawn into this story on the very first page of reading.  I agreed with Lillian Daniel, who wrote on the cover of the book, “This is a family tree worth climbing.”

Part Memoir and part detective novel this book is full of beautiful words and exegesis work, which is then perfectly meshed into current social justice issues which confront our daily lives.   There is an element where the book is also a great sermon playing out in one life and the extended family system; the examples are all personal stories of discovery and secrets explored.  How and why Neumark was called to become a pastor and work on human and justice issues within the confines of her family structures and shared experiences, was it just her environment or her genetics that allowed her to hear the call?

Neumark is called late at night by her daughter who is working on a graduate school project and discovers that her family is Jewish and is referenced on Wikipedia.  Neumark’s life had been centered on being a German Lutheran and not a Jew.  She knew her father was emigrated from Germany and now discovers that her Grandfather died in a Concentration Camp and that her Grandmother did not.  There were some of her family members still Jewish and still alive and that her Father had kept his secret even from her Mother and held on in silence to the whole story.

The book is Pastor Neumark’s journey to discover the truth and integrate the why and how her father became Lutheran and how that saved his life and his sisters lives also.  The beauty of scripture and poetry and theological concepts are penned into the story as she goes to the various sites of her family’s life in Germany and the layers of family are revealed and exposed – the silent conspiracy is broken and spoken into the pages with depth and caring.

“Hidden Inheritance will appeal to a wide gamut of readers; Christians with an interest in social justice, Jews and others interested in stories of the Shoah and its ongoing impact, those interested in issues of Jewish/Christian identity and dual identities, the impact of trauma and secrecy, readers of memoirs, and anyone interested in pursuing family genealogy. “ (From Media release)

The Meryl Zegarek PR firm sent me a copy of this book for review and I give it high marks for intelligent writing and interesting story and history.  History is well integrated into social justice and human needs and is explored on a personal level and as a well -researched understanding.

Twitter @MZPR

I have mentioned this book to nearly everyone I have encountered and now I share it with you.  It was a pleasure to read and contemplate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (From book cover)

“Heidi B. Neumark is a speaker and Lutheran pastor in New York City.  She is the author of the highly acclaimed book BREATHING SPACE: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, has published numerous chapters and sermons in other books, and is a regular contributor to THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY and other journals.”

Life From Scratch
When Women Were Birds
My Stroke of Insight

STOLEN YEARS: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned ~Reuven Fenton

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

10 well researched stories about real people who have been incarcerated for many years when they were innocent of the crime and how they found a way to be released and regain their own lives.   It is estimated that 5% of all the prisoners in the USA have been incarcerated and are actually innocent!

Fenton is a journalist who became very interested in this dilemma and continued his research until he had enough material for publishing this book.  The 8 men and 2 women whose stories are shared in the book spent between 12 and 30 years of their lives serving time in penitentiaries for crimes they did not commit.  They were found guilty and it took them years and years to be exonerated and their names cleared.  Most lost a great deal in the process, including their children, their jobs, their homes, and their families.  Several have successfully sued and recovered some assets, but most have lost more than could ever be recovered.

How to find someone to believe in your case and in the individuals has been a major obstacle.  Absolutely every inmate says they are NOT GUILTY!   Many of the victims do not know their rights and the INNOSCENCE PROJECTS in various states were highlighted in their work and efforts on behalf of these human beings.   It still takes an interested person to pursue the process for the prisoners and assist them in being recognized and their cases reviewed.  It is a slow and painstaking process.

“Prosecutors need to say, “I will not judge you on your wins and losses.  I will judge you on the quality of the justice you dispense.”’  (From the conclusion section of the book)

From the Author – 5 Most Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions:

  • False Confessions
  • Eye witness mis-identifications
  • Improper forensic science
  • False Accusations
  • Government misconduct

The stories in the book were scary to read and yet made me very sad; each victim had a fairly happy ending to their ordeal and yet how easily it happened, how long it took to be released and find recovery was overwhelming. Could you be that brave?  Would you know what to do to find freedom?    What the people had to endure while incarcerated was horrendous.  Prisons are not the answer for anyone.

We need to teach our young more about how the system operates and what are the consequences, because not knowing one’s rights is definitely a problem if one is wrongly accused and does not have resources to defend yourself it becomes very serious.  Our society is quick to blame.

I believe a number of people could benefit from reading this book and we could start making some changes that would reduce the incidence of incarceration.

About the Author:
Reuven Fenton has been covering murder and scandal for the NEW YORK POST since 2007 and has earned national recognition for his exclusive reporting on a myriad of national stories.  He is a graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism.  He lives in NYC with his wife and 2 sons.

TLC Book Tours sent me a PDF copy of this book for review.

The Bounce
Life From Scratch
Glimpsing Heaven

GLIMPSING HEAVEN: The Stories and Science of Life After Death ~Judy Bachrach

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

“It’s a tough thing to reexamine previous beliefs and lay oneself open to completely different conclusions.  For myself, I happen to know that all too well.
“Because, I realize as I write this book, I have spent almost my entire life being wrong.  And sometimes you can reconcile what you think now with what you thought before.  But in this instance, you cannot.”  (Page 185)

Judy Bachrach is a professional journalist with a long and distinguished career, who was a volunteer in a Hospice program for many years.  She believed that when we die we are gone, there is nothing more, until she began collecting stories from folks who had died and come back to life. They carried with them memories of a different life; she began interviewing the death travelers.

GLIMSPING HEAVEN is a compellation of six years of interviews and diligent research with top medical researchers, professionals and those who have experienced living after death.  Many of the death travelers are silent about their journey because so many individuals believe they are judged to be mentally ill, but when they do share their memories, “These memories are in many instances both verifiable and chillingly accurate.” (Promotion material)

I feel it is a privilege to have been asked by TCL Book Tours   and National Geographic Books to read and review this book.  Thank you for this opportunity.

The writing style in GLIMPSING HEAVEN is quite lovely and it is a gentle reveal and pursuit.  Bachrach has interviewed worldwide experts on death traveler memories and then numerous personal stories of folks who have experienced life after death.    The reader is amazed at all the new information, discoveries, and the sheer number of people who share this experience since the invention of CPR.

The reader will be diving into their belief systems and asking the questions: What do I believe about death and beyond?  What does my belief inform me about living my life?

I expect a level of excellence when I see NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is involved and I was not disappointed at all with this terrific read and exploration adventure.

From the promotional material about the author:

“JUDY BACHRACH is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine.  She is a longtime journalist whose early career was spent at The Washington Post, as after which she became an on-air television critic for Maryland Public Broadcasting, film critic for WRC-TV, critic for NPR’s All Things Considered and a political columnist for The Washington Star.  Bachrach has covered notable figures such as Amanda Knox, Lou Dobbs, attorney General John Ashcroft, Stephen Hawking, Nigella Lawson, one time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Sheryl Crow, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco and others.  She is the author of TINA AND HARRY COME TO AMERICA (the biography of Vanity Fair and New Yorker’s editor Tina Brown and her husband, Harry Evans: August 2001.  Bachrach founded thecheckonline.org in 2008; the first online advice column for the terminally ill and their friends and relatives based on her years of experience as a hospice volunteer in Washington, D.C. and Rome, Italy.  She graduated from Chatham College, and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.  She lives in Washington D.C.

Judy Bachrach Twitter 
Judy Bachrach LinkedIn 

Related Reading:
Sting and Bones
The Forever Man 
The Most Important Day of Your Life
When Women Were Birds