Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Now Reading: April 2012

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Guy Delisle's Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City combines the best of travelogue, political writing, memoir, and graphic story-telling. His deceptively simple drawings reveal not only his own narrative, but the narrative complexity of the city that he lived in for a year with his two children and Medecins Sans Frontieres administrator wife. While Literary Mama readers might crave more stories and drawings about what it's like to parent on the edge of a war zone (the kids watch TV all day at the daycare center?), anthropology and political enthusiasts and those interested in the ways outsiders can see the extraordinary in the everyday will not be disappointed. I certainly was not.

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Cassie Premo Steele, Birthing the Mother Writer Columnist, shares, "I have been resting to gear up for my book tour, and the best way I've found is to immerse myself in big books. One I've devoured decently is Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers, a beautiful and haunting epic about women in ancient Israel. This reads like a poem and stays alive for long after it is finished. Just like a legend."

Blog Editor Karna Converse writes, "I highly recommend Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. The award-winning author (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Robert F. Kennedy Award) tells the true story of Deogratias, a young medical student from the central African nation of Burundi. Kidder vividly recounts Deo's 1994 escape from the ethnic violence in Burundi and Rwanda genocide, his immigration to the United States, and the life he forms in New York City from being homeless in Central Park to a student at Columbia University. In 2006, Kidder accompanied Deo to his homeland and recorded his dream of building a clinic. By 2008, Deo founded Village Health Works and a public health system. Deo's story has a fairy tale feeling to it, but is one that should inspire every reader to consider the power of helping another. I've had Kidder's titles on my To Read list for several years, but this is the first book I've fit into my schedule thanks to the Iowa Center for the Book which named Strength in What Remains the 2012 All Iowa Reads selection."

Christina Marie Speed, Literary Reflections Editor, just finished Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. "I am still marveling at the range of characters and twists Egan employs in this unforgettable novel. The story is rooted in music and spreads far and wide into a cadre of living, breathing characters, linked in some way chapter by chapter. But what kept me reading was not the story, but rather her focus on the unfolding and precarious lives her characters live. Their lives mirror real life: nothing is orderly and symmetrical. Instead, her characters take the leap into real life as they make mistakes, tangle in the aftermath and then try to move forward. With knife-sharp use of language and incredible movement in time, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a novel of relationships, and how those relationships dim and crumble -- or brighten and unify -- over the course of time."

Rhena Tantisunthorn received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2007. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter and is currently working on a book about her experiences working with Karenni refugees on the Thai-Burma border. You can find her blog here: Rhena Tan.

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