Thursday, June 28, 2012

by Mark Kram, Jr.

Buddy Miley was an incredible athlete and excelled at whatever he played. His favorite sport was football. He was the star quarterback of his high school football team and Joe Namath was his idol. In 1973, Buddy was severely injured in a game. He broke his neck and his vertebrae was shattered. Buddy would spend the next twenty-three and a half years of his life either bedridden or in a wheelchair lovingly cared for by his mother. His younger brother, Jimmy, was extremely devoted to him and would help out in any and every way he could. The bond between them was inseparable.
The life that Buddy lived was anything but normal.
This story is gut-wrenching. It's beautiful, sad, compassionate, and powerful. The author really knows how to bring everything together: the family, sports, friends, and anybody else who was touched by the events.
It's great writing.

Monday, June 25, 2012

by Leslie Maitland 

On September 5, 1923, Hanna Gunzberger was born in Freiburg, Germany. Two months later, Hitler attempted to seize power. The Nazi Party marched into town that year. The Gunzbergers lived well because Sigmar (the father) had a steel and building supply business and he prospered even though other families were starting to suffer. By 1933, oppression began for the Jews with the institution of laws and many began leaving. Not the Gunzbergers. Sigmar didn't believe that he would be bothered due to his profession and so they stayed in Germany much longer than they should have. Because he waited so long, immigrating to the United States was impossible. Their sights turned to France. He had to pay a small fortune to leave and sell his business. Five years after Hitler gained control, the family left for France in 1938 by train. It was here that Hanna became Janine and would stick with this name. She would reject everything that was German to try and save herself. While living in Mulhouse Janine met the love of her life, Roland, a Catholic Frenchman. Naturally, her parents disapproved and hoped that it would end. It did four years later, in 1942, when the Gunzbergers had to escape from France due to the Nazis and took a ship to Casablanca, Cuba. Janine and Roland were separated never knowing if they would see each other again. Five years would pass and Janine married an American while living in New York. It wasn't the happiest marriage and Janine never ceased yearning for Roland.
Leslie Maitland grew up hearing about her mother's exploits in Germany and France and her first love. Maitland used to be an investigative reporter so she put her skills into play to pursue the lost Frenchman. This book is the result and it is quite amazing. You feel as if you're reading a sweeping epic. She also writes about Nazi Germany, the collaborators, Vichy France, anti-Semitism, and what Cuba was like in 1942.
It's a beautiful story and extremely hard to put down.
Very highly recommended.