Baseball remains the sport nestled closest to our literary souls. In the preface to If God Invented Baseball: Poems (City Point Press), E. Ethelbert Miller writes: "There is no future without baseball. There is no past either.... Here are poems that celebrate and interpret the game. They are for everyone who has experienced the magic released when three holy things come together: bat, ball and glove."
The Dark Side of Sports - Oliver Hilmes's Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August (Other Press, $24.95) is a great work of narrative history that focuses on the 16 days when Nazi Germany played host to the Olympics. It's a disturbing reminder of how repressive regimes have used the Games as propaganda centerpieces, presenting attractive but misleading portraits of the host countries.
Carnival of Love-A Tale of a Bahamian Family is a memoir that explores the meaning of love and family in a broken home. Set in the Bahamas, the story is told through the eyes of Maria Helix, one of nine children growing up in a stable and caring environment. With the sudden and unexpected dissolution of her parents' marriage, Maria is forced to let go of her idealized past and confront new realities of loss, displacement and economic instability. Through honesty, humor, and hard-won wisdom, Maria reveals a complex picture of familial bonds sometimes marked by conflict. Moreover, her tale identifies and proves love to be the most compelling force needed to piece together what is left of a "perfect" family.
My son has a collection of memoirs by individuals with autism spectrum disorder that never leave his nightstand. They offer comfort and inspiration whenever he needs a boost. In honor of April being Autism Awareness Month and the upcoming World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, here's a look at some of these much-loved titles.
(Balzer + Bray, 9780062570604, $17.99, available April)
"Dread Nation is not just a zombie story; you could have weeks of book group meetings and still be talking about it. Ireland is an author to keep your eyes on. She writes with meaning, intention, and spark. Her characters leap off the page and demand attention.
What we believe: "People who are smart and strong enough are able to rise above the past and triumph through the force of their own will and resilience." In The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-term Effects of Childhood Adversity(Bluebird, $21.90), Nadine Burke Harris says, "But with caveats." Childhood adversity can affect physical development, trigger chronic inflammation and hormonal changes, alter how cells replicate, and dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer's. "Even bootstrap heroes find themselves pulled up short by their biology." Burke Harris wanted to know why; she found the answers in her pediatric clinic in a low-income community of color in San Francisco.
Spring is coming, and for me that typically means a little vacation. Passport in one hand, Global Entry number in the other, I'm ready to book (the cheapest) flights anywhere in the world. A couple years ago I went to Berlin, last year London. This year: Beijing!
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316262286, $16.99, available April)
"Ghost Boys is a devastating novel. But it is also hopeful, full of compassion, and a compelling case for the fact that 'we can all do better, be better, live better.' Jerome's story is heartbreaking, and the telling of it is necessary, just as the telling of Emmett Till's story is necessary, though it so often goes untold. Rhodes has crafted a beautiful novel that will facilitate many conversations with young people; Ghost Boys is essential for the middle school classroom as well as for family discussion. This is a novel to be shared with children; read it with them, discuss it with them, and together we can gain the tools we need in order to live better." --Michelle Cavalier, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA