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NOW EVERYONE WILL KNOW: A Memoir ~Maggie Kneip

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

“The Perfect Husband, His Shattering Secret; My Rediscovered Life”

McKinney PR, LLC (Larissa Ackerman | Claire McKinney PR, 41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930) sent me a copy of this book for review and it is quite the read about holding on to a secret for 20 years, denying a segment of a life and keeping a mythology alive.

“This is a book I just inhaled, I could not put it down… It will resonate with every woman who has something to hide – and that is most of us, myself included.” (Magee Hickey, News Reporter, WPIX-TV New York, cover)

Maggie Kneip was married to her dream husband and was the mother of 2 very young children when her husband collapsed and spent several years getting every cold that came along; having just one medical problem after the other. They finally got a diagnosis – AIDS.  When Kneip’s partner, before he was her partner, he had worked in Los Angeles and had explored the Gay lifestyle.  Now he was an editor at the Wall Street Journal and very highly respected and funny; giftedly bright.  He had tumors in his brain and an AIDS dementia, swollen legs, and a list of other problems.  Their son was less than a year old, and their 3-year-old daughter just could not understand.  He was dying and Maggie had to find a job and support her two children.

AIDS was a fairly unknown disease and the general population was very frightened, Maggie and the children were not carriers and did not have the disease, but they were discriminated against just the same because of the fear and the stigma.  The daughter shared about her Father at school and the other parents banded together to get her removed.  A conspiracy of silence began to keep the children safe from these attacks.  This silence left a big hole in the family until the family began sharing their story and Kneip began participating in creating awareness and support for other women on the AIDS journey. 20 years of silence.

It is a commanding read and quite an educational tool for informing and lessening the fear factor for others.

“Maggie Kneip was one of this country’s hidden women…who kept her husband’s deadly secret for more than two decades…Now she opens up for the first time in this stunning, beautifully written, and important book.”  (Joanne Lipman, journalist, editor, and co-author of Strings Attached – cover)

About the Author:

“Maggie Kneip is a veteran of the publishing industry, with more than two decades in publicity and marketing at Bertelsmann, Scholastic Inc., and Abrams Books.  She has performed as a singer at such Manhattan clubs as the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room.  Learn more about her at www.maggiekneip.com

Related:
Hidden Inheritance
Whistling Women
The Long Goodbye
The Bounce

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.

www.MZPR.com
Twitter @MZPR
Facebook.com/MerylZegarek

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.”

Related:
Life From Scratch
When Women Were Birds
Wild
My Stroke of Insight

WHISTLING WOMEN: A Novel ~Kelly A. Romo

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

“A whistling woman and a crowing hen always come to some bad end” ~Proverb

The story begins in a Nudist Camp in California in 1935. The members are preparing to take their healthy lifestyle to the 1935 Worlds Fair in San Diego.  They will be a part of the exhibitions and earn money for their community in Northern California.  Addie has lived in the community for 17 years and has felt safe and happy within the ranks, but now she is learning that she will be asked to leave because she is not so young and beautiful any more and will not make the community needed funding. She does not wish to go to San Diego where her sister lives and will not communicate with her.  There is no choice. she must go if she is to stay on with the group.

The backdrop of historic San Diego and the Exposition makes this a very interesting read.  Romo has done her homework and then interjected a story about being an orphan and domestic abuse, incest and rape.  The reader is taken through a search for love and safety, forgiveness and fear, right up to the door of a family reuniting and healing.

Addie and Wavey’s parents have died.  Wavey is older and more useful on the Uncle’s farm as a worker in the early 1900s and so it is decided that Addie will leave Ohio and go to Kansas to a Orphan Asylum which also takes children who have been involved in crimes.  After many years, Addie has been sent for by her now married sister Wavey to join her family in San Diego.  There is lots of hope in this arrangement.  Wavey’s husband is violent and a rapist and after their daughter is born he begins to attack Addie also.  Addie does something terrible and is sent away to the Ohio farm and to more pain and sorrow.  She runs away heading back to California and finds the Nudist Colony.  Her sister no longer communicates with her-refuses her letters.

Wavey has 2 daughters now, Mary and Rumor.  Rumor is 15 and so excited about going to the exhibition and seeing all the future ideas exposed.  At church they hear about the Nudist exhibit and her friend is restricted from attending the exhibition.  Addie comes to their front door and is hoping for reconciliation with her sister.  Rumor is so excited to meet her aunt and begins a secret relationship with her; boldly visiting the in the exhibition and trying to understand life and her future.

The story was moving and a good read, but I found myself several times finding it too long.   I figured out what was happening and then there would be too much detail and redundancy.  The story would pick up again and would move forward.  I thought the religious sections didn’t really launch though were good transition material but sometimes confused the issue and theme.  That could be another story, the moralizing was important and provided boundaries in the story but also bogged the reader a bit.

I loved the Proverb at the start, thought it a good story and an interesting reflection on history.  Safety is often a tough issue when mixed with poverty and being female. Very readable and good sister dynamics – unraveling the family secrets.

Kelly Romo currently lives in Oregon with her three children, where she teaches writing, literature, and social studies.  She loves the outdoors: hiking, kayaking, and camping.  Kelly grew up in California running around with all her thrill-seeking cousins and siblings; exploring caves on the beaches of Mexico, riding dirt bikes, water skiing and snow skiing.”

“Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the lasting consequences of a single impulsive act.” (From Amazon page)

TLC Book Tour 

Related:
The Moon Sisters
Accidents of a Marriage
The Fixer

TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS: A Novel ~Sejal Badani

Monday, May 4th, 2015

“Never depend on another person for your happiness.  If someone had the authority to give, then he or she had the authority to take away.” (location 142)

I did not know what to expect from the book TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS.    I knew it was an immigration story and a debut novel but did not know much more.  I am often tempted to read the book descriptions sent by the publishers for advanced reading copies of books; I resisted and just dove into reading the story.  TLC Book Tours sent me a copy for review.

Three sister’s elegantly tell their stories of their lives in the USA after their family moves from India as an opportunity for daughters to achieve success and excel for the family when there are no sons.  Their father was successful and kind in India but he who was an engineer in his home country now can only get work in a tire store and experiences great racism and difficult circumstances.  He is driven to control his daughters and wife to the point of verbal and physical abuse.  He is in a coma and the family is forced to look at their lives and the shame they feel; the sad and unhappy outcomes of their lives.   A family story emerges as the family secrets are confronted by the violence exposed and events manifesting in their contemporary lives.

What blooms in the family tree as the family progresses and what changes in the patterns, so that history may not repeat itself? Can destructive behavior ever manifest real or solid success and provide growth and change for communication and allow love to emerge?

The telling of Sonja, Trisha, and Marin’s stories opens up the reader to explore what was expected of them from their own families and fathers.  How does original enculturation interfere or enhance a huge change in structures and systems and how does it breakdown the basic traits and expectations?  What are the freedoms that are attached to this change and could it be thought of as a good concept.  TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS will challenge one’s thinking and expectations.

I highly recommend TRAIL OF BROKEN WINGS for those who like family dynamics, secrets revealed and want a story to end with hope for the future.

I was interested to see that Amazon already had 547  4+ reviews for this debut novel.

Sejal Badani is a former attorney.  She currently lives on the West Coast with her family and their 2 dogs.

Sejal Badani Facebook 

Related:
Playing St. Barbara 
The Clover House 
The Last Conception 
The Isolation Door