Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary (review)

As an immigrant from Sri Lanka, Rifqa is raised in a strict Muslim home governed by the code of her family’s culture. The trouble is that her home is also filled with violence. It is a harrowing tale of a teen’s life trapped in abuse in which she fears no one will believe what is happening to her or help her escape. Rifqa literally runs away to save her life. These events occur in a country that guarantees freedom of religion yet Rifqa feels that her conversion to Christianity will be her death sentence. After her escape, she must endure more humiliation by being arrested as a runaway and living in several foster care homes (some of which were sub standard). Things become a further muddle when politics and immigration officials become involved. There are endless court cases and a life in hiding from her family and the press. Her only real escape was turning eighteen and becoming a legal adult. She survived and thrived by graduating valedictorian of her high school class and developing the confidence to live on her own. Alas, the trouble continues as Rifqa still lives in hiding while attending college and limits contacts with her friends because of the pervasive threats toward them. However, the book ends on a positive note as Rifqa forgives her family and makes plans for a life lived in freedom.
Rifqa’s experiences are related eloquently and left the reader completely absorbed in her peril. How many abused children are living with the terror of a violent parent in this country? How many teens are waiting for a safe and caring foster home? How many people would believe a troubled teen claiming violence at the hands of her own father? This book cries out for a response from each of us.
This book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Trapped Under the Sea- Review

Trapped Under the Sea by Neil Swidey was a big disappointment. This book is a detailed piece of investigative journalism that promised to read like a suspense novel. It did not live up to its potential. It is a grim reminder of the dangers of underwater construction but it did not have any level of expectancy. Even the death scene was a disappointment. The history of Boston Harbor and the relentless background information of the divers made the book plod along in textbook style. Its only redeeming value is the quality of research.
This book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

A Warrior’s Memoir- Shadow on the Mountain

Shadow of the Mountain by Cliff Graham is the retelling of sections of the Book of Exodus by the biblical Caleb. He is an old man who leads his men into battle even as his body is beginning to break down. The story is written as Caleb relates his life tales to his nephew.
The most obvious difficulty with this kind of novel is telling a story that most people already know. It is inherently predictable. Graham solves this problem in 2 ways. He uses Caleb’s pre-Exodus memories to give Caleb a background that the reader learns along with Caleb’s nephew and he describes battle scenes with breathtaking action. As part of Caleb’s life before he met Moses, he lived in Egypt and developed relationships with the people there. He was devastated by the events of the plagues and also harassed by the Anakim.
Graham is a very convincing storyteller who uses his own experiences as a former soldier to paint an effective life account of a biblical warrior.
My favorite quote is on the back cover:”May it be written that my woman loved me, my children admired me, and the enemy feared me.”
I received this book for free from Baker Publishing House in exchange for an honest review.

Yes! It’s Possible!

Possible- A Blueprint for Changing How we Change the World by Stephan Bauman was a pleasant surprise. It is arranged into 3 sections: Recovering our Call, Reframing the Problem, and Remaking the World. The first section’s purpose is to motivate the reader to a renewed desire to be involved on a personal level. The author is effective in making the reader feel the urgency of using our talents NOW without waiting for a specific overture of mission. This first section was necessary but could have been shortened without sacrificing effect.
Parts 2 and 3 were far more interesting. Bauman uses a figurative tree to illustrate the relationship of our values, beliefs, behavior, and results. The reader can practice this exercise on a personal level and then expand its use to a community level.
The author has plenty of experience in his mission to make a difference in the world. He is president and CEO of World Relief. Bauman wants us to stop seeing the poor as victims. We need to see them as people who have the potential to be heroes in the same causes that concern us. It is time to stop the “unhelpful assumptions, hidden paternalism, and subtle arrogance” that plague us. We must work together with those we see as victims in order to make any real change in violent cultures.
It was refreshing to read a book focused on justice that motivates the reader as well as provides step by step help in creating change. Yes, it is POSSIBLE to change the world.
A copy of this book was provided to me for free in exchange for a review.