One of the nice things about writing a book blog is that, from time to time, I find really interesting books in my mailbox. Sometimes the books are well-written but intended for a very specific audience, other times, the books are full of heart but need a bit of polish. Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to receive a number of well-written, widely appealing works, and I’m going to post reviews for two of them today. A review for The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid by Mary Walters and John Aragon is forthcoming. My three year old has hidden the book and I need to order another copy.
The Clock of Life, Nancy Klann-Moren
www.nancyklann-moren.com, AnthonyAnn Books, 354 pages
On Jason Lee Rainey’s first day at Cobb’s CountrySchool in Hadlee, Mississipi, his mama walked him right up to the front door, leaned down, and whispered for him to be brave like his daddy. Jason Lee had never known his father, for he was killed in Vietnam, and certainly never heard him called brave, but before the day was through, Jason Lee would learn what his father stood for and why it was so important. Jason Lee left his mama standing outside, took a seat in the schoolroom, and watched as two overbearing louts picked on a quiet black classmate. Jason Lee was appalled; he had never witnessed such overt racism before, and when he asked Samson if he was alright, Jason Lee was branded as an outcast. Jason Lee had just found himself a new best friend, and when he told his mama all about it, she couldn’t have been prouder. Jason Lee’s father spent time in jail and suffered beatings so that white boys like Jason Lee and black boys like Samson could be friends. But it was still the 1970s, and attitudes were slow to change.
Told in a simple, direct, and utterly compelling voice, The Clock of Life follows Jason Lee and Samson’s friendship in a community steeped in racism. With lynchings and house burnings in living memory, those closest to the boys fear for their safety. Their friendship, however dangerous, gives Jason Lee and Samson a broader worldview, unshakeable courage, and a commitment to make the world a better place.
Letting Go, A Memoir, Kelley Lum Oshiro
www.kelleyoshiro.com, 163 pages
Kelley Lum Oshiro grew up in a loving family that valued kindness and service to others. Both sides of her family were Christian, and one grandfather was a minister. From a very young age, Kelley fostered peace and tolerance in her community. She organized a peaceful class protest in support of a boy who was forced to write “stupid” all over the blackboard, and a few years later, she researched and spoke passionately about the work of Martin Luther King. Years later, when Kelley was watching her son struggle to find his place in the world, she was shocked that he found his way by joining the military. Letting Go tells a story of a mother’s struggle to remain true to her own values while learning to accept choices her son has made. This heartfelt, sincere memoir provides a female perspective on some of the issues raised in The Matter with Morris.