Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Essential Reading, Freedom

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This month Literary Mamas celebrate freedom with these picks. Enjoy!

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Vicki Forman, Reviews Editor, says, "Rachel Simon's The Story of Beautiful Girl is a multigenerational novel whose central characters, Lynnie and Homan, meet and fall in love at an institution. Lynnie is developmentally disabled, and Homan is deaf, and when Lynnie conceives a child they manage to escape the institution, leaving the baby in the hands of a young teacher who agrees to raise her. Lynnie is re-institutionalized, Homan escapes and for the next forty years the freedom Lynnie and Homan had in those brief moments with baby Julia becomes the central image that drives the story forward. Eventually, the institution is shut down, Homan learns to communicate, and by a series of miracles, the three are reunited in a testament to the enduring power of love. Reading The Story of Beautiful Girl, I am reminded of all the freedom we take for granted, whether it's the freedom to live how we want, communicate as we wish, or be understood for who we are."

Blog Co-Editor, Karna Converse, writes, "Outcasts United by Warren St. John is a must-read for help in understanding what freedom means to our country’s new immigrants and the responsibilities communities and individuals have in welcoming them. Luma Mufleh is a Jordanian woman who, after graduating from Smith College, moves to Atlanta, Georgia to start a new life. A big part of this new life revolves around the Fugees, a soccer program for boys of refugee families who have been resettled in nearby Clarkston from more than 20 war-torn countries in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Outcasts United grew out of a series of newspaper articles by the New York Times reporter and follows three Fugees teams during their 2007-2008season. Soccer provides the book’s structure, but the real story is about building relationships, politics, and how a community responds and adapts to its new immigrants. In 2010, Outcast United was selected by over 20 colleges as a common freshman read and by the One Book, One San Diego and One Maryland, One Book programs."

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, shares, "Stealing Buddha's Dinner is the memoir of Bich Minh Nguyen, a young woman with an upbringing very much like mine. We grew up in the same medium size, conservative, Midwestern city, and we're about the same age. We even frequented the same library as kids. But Nguyen was a Vietnamese refugee feeling her differences from her classmates grating against her as she tried to fit in. I grew up with many Vietnamese kids in my school and always assumed they all felt as normal as I regarded them to be. Or, did I? Now that I've read the memoir I'm forced to consider, did I really treat my Vietnamese classmates the exact same way I treated my white friends? And how should I help my son in navigating his friendships in his own school, now with a new crop of immigrant students from Africa and Bosnia? This memoir was not only well-written and enjoyable, but an important lesson in the various ways we try to achieve freedom in America."

Katie de Iongh lives in Rye, New Hampshire with her husband and their three young children. She is a community volunteer, freelance writer and college English instructor.

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