Posts tagged ‘family dysfunction’

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Hey Nana! Connor’s Story of Love

Written by Toni Nunemaker

This book is a testament to the young life of Connor, a boy who was murdered by another in a playground not far from his home in a trailer park nearby. The memoir is penned by his grandmother, who herself undergoes a transformation because of the crime.

Readers need to be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster as Nana proceeds through a gamut of emotions proceeding from the moment of the crime, the funeral, the criminal investigation, the trial, and the family’s readjustment to a life without the nine-year-old child, who brought so much love into the world.

Nana even learns to understand and accept the grief that Jamarion, the young murderer, and his family experience and the abuse that led up to it. I think the author does an exceptional job of portraying her conflicting emotions as well as the character of the gentle and loving victim, her grandchild, and the special relationship they both shared.

The book is a powerful commentary on abuse, addiction, love, and the way various members of society cope or fail to cope with them. This book is one that will force readers to consider these issues, whether they agree with the author’s ultimate decision in her acceptance and forgiveness. Recommended for young adult and adult readers.

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A THANKLESS THANKSGIVING

A Pardon for Tommy

Written by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi

Chelsea is a college freshman who wakes to recurring nightmares. When she was twelve, Chelsea lost her home during Hurricane Katrina. She and her father were swept away by the flood waters. Chelsea has not been able to bring herself to return to New Orleans

Chelsea retells her experience. She survives the flood with the turkey her father captured for Thanksgiving Dinner in her backpack. Enyi traces Chelsea’s harrowing experiences while awaiting rescue and the reunion with her mother and brother at the Houston Astrodome. The family struggles to maintain hope that Chelsea’s dad, Max, will be found alive.

The scene shifts to adjustment to a new life in Houston at their grandmother’s home. Several subplots are included. There are New Orleans’ bullies who have also moved to the new school. Rex, their mother’s twin brother, is unwelcome at their new house. Chelsea has become attached to “Tommy,” her pet turkey. She cannot accept killing Tommy and celebrating Thanksgiving without their father. Will the family find out whether Max is alive or dead? How will the children adjust in their new home? Does “Tommy” become Thanksgiving Dinner?

The characters in the story experience typical coming of age experiences, compounded by the tragedy of this natural disaster, their father’s disappearance, a forced move, and the family’s dysfunction. This book could benefit from some editing. Transitions are not always clear, and the subplots are not fully developed. On the other hand, the author does a good job of painting the pain and trauma of the disaster. Readers need to suspend belief at times; a turkey surviving so many mishaps is a bit far fetched. On the other hand, the story is a powerful one for middle-grade and young adult audiences.

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