THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY: A Good Non-Fiction Read

Non-fiction is not my first love, not my favorite genre in which to read. However, Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Devil’s Highway kept me turning pages like any good novel.  It is excellent investigative reporting on the US border policy.  The readability is probably what made this book a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It deals with illegal immigration, specifically from Mexico and South America into Arizona, California, and Texas.

The author tells the story of a 2001 crossing of the desert which contains the area known as “The Devil’s Highway.”  The author expresses his own “outrage tempered with concern.” As one critic explained, Urrea writes with “tragic and beautiful intimacy.” Dealing with hyperthermia and how people die in the desert, the author traces a group walking across and down the Devil’s Highway seeking a better life in America. It is at times, “artful, powerful, and shocking.” It is a border story written by a self-proclaimed border son, a fronteriza.

The lasting impression this book will have on you is that it will haunt you.

Tuesday Teaser

This meme, hosted by the Purple Booker, asks readers to grab the book they’re currently reading, copy a few sentences in an attempt to get readers to show interest in your “read.” Why not play as well, put your sentences in the comments section, being careful not to give away anything vital–no spoilers. Please remember to include title and author.

Here is mine for this week: From Taylor Caldwell’s Tender Victory

“They had finished dinner and the children were in bed, and there was the good hearty sound of Mrs. Burnsdale, washing dishes in the kitchen.  Dr. McManus and Johnny sat in the study-parlor; the muggy air barely stirred in the close confines of the room. The doctor laid down a heavy brown paper parcel of x-rays.  He lit one cigarette after another, his big face moving, his eyebrows jerking, his mouth pursing.  Johnny waited, his hands clenched on his knees, praying for some hope in the older man’s verdict. But the doctor continued to sit there, dropping ashes on his thighs, muttering in his squeaky voice, scratching his ear.  Four hospital calls had come for him, but he had snarled into the telephone, and had suggested aspirin or a “jolt of morphine, and tell him to shut up,” and he still sat there, the mound of ashes increasing on his soiled light suit.  There were great sweat marks under his monster arms, and his shirt collar had become gray.”

What a way to build suspense; they don’t write detailed description like they used to.  This reader, for one is waiting with held breath to see if an operation can help Johnny’s young foster soon. Caldwell’s old-fashioned novel does everything right and keeps the reader turning pages and staying up late to read another chapter.

Now add your teaser. Scroll down to “About the author” and type your teaser underneath into the box provided.

MANY WATERS by Madeline L’Engle: A Review

Published in 1986       Takes place sometime after the Wrinkle in Time Trilogy

Sandy and Dennys Murry, twin brothers of Meg and Calvin Wallace Murry (from A Wrinkle in Time) are the “dull,” “ordinary” ones in the family until they interrupt their physicist dad’s computer experiment.  Then, they are in trouble, not just with their dad, but in cosmos-changing trouble.  Many waters were coming soon to the dessert oasis where they “landed”, and stories their mother told them as small children from the Bible, as well as many mythologies and folktales of a world-wide flood come rushing to their minds.

Unknown to them, their dad was experimenting with time travel, and the Genesis (from the Bible) people’s reaction to them, as well as their reaction to the people of “this other place” is the premise for the story.  Unicorns, mammoths (miniature size ones), seraphims, and nephils all appear in this book. Both boys, young teens, fall for the same girl, Yalith, and for the first time, the twins do not tell each other “everything.” Will they get themselves home in time to avoid the “many waters?”/The Great Flood? Will they get home, period? L’Engle’s philosophy shines through as the boys engage in conflicts both on a personal level and on a universal level.

The writing, plot, and characterization are brilliant. This is one of my favorite authors whether she is writing YA novels, memoirs and philosophy, or anything. I highly recommend this book.

WHO SAID I WAS UP FOR ADOPTION? A REVIEW

Colin Chappell, a blogging-world friend, has written a fine book which is “a story about one calculating dog…and one unsuspecting human.”  Published in 2016 and available in hardback, paperback, and on Kindle, it serves as a training manual for pet adoption as Chappell, who admittedly “has a soft spot for the underdog,” adopts a messed-up, confused dog of unknown background, and with the dog’s love and cooperation, turns Ray, the dog, into a loving, expressive, happy companion. What is amazing is how Ray altered Colin’s and Carols’ lives.

The book is written with a chapter narrated by Colin, then the same experiences, adventures narrated by Ray, to give the canine point of view. This is done so well that one wonders who is reading who’s mind, and who is “training” who.   The anecdotes are so many and so good, I couldn’t choose a favorite to recount, but early into the adoption when Ray receives a diagnosis of advanced heart-worms, it brought out the “Oh-no response” in me as I read. Because Colin had had the bad experience of having a beloved Siamese cat put down (a poem at the end of the book explores this) following the recommendation to euthanize his first dog, Ray, was not an option.

With love, medical treatment, and much financial cost, Ray is now a healthy member of the family.  You can read about Colin and Ray’s on-going, recent adventures at http://www.meandray.com   As Colin muses in the very beginning of the book, “Who would have thought living with Ray would force me to reflect on my own life?”  I highly recommend the blog and also the book.  It is a must read for anyone who loves animals and wants a story with a happy continuance, rather than a sad ending.