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Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel Paperback – August 11, 2016
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Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel by Mary Clark
Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite, February 24, 2017
Life doesn't always turn out the way that we planned, but it does prepare us for each new adventure. In Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel by Mary Clark, Leila Payson is also known as “Miss Pacer,” which her friends fondly called her because she was always on the go. Leila later became known by the name Miss Pacer as well by her students. Leila was a Social Studies teacher. Leila loved the essence of her life, but one day she decided that she wanted to make a difference in life. The difference that Leila decided to add was a stint in an NGO in South Africa in the Health and Education industry. Little did Leila know that her life would change forever. Her time in the NGO will set the stage for how Leila will live the rest of her life. What Leila will learn during this stint will be the catalyst that enables her to help someone in the most profound way.
Leila’s interaction with characters Skye, Dov, Ron, Raoul, Maria and the mysterious man with the book became a part of her development. Each of these characters played a big part in helping Leila to become this vessel to provide comfort and guidance to someone who would need her in the most unusual way. I enjoyed how Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel by Mary Clark was developed because it displays how the ebb and flow in one phase of our lives helps us to walk through and navigate another part of our lives. All parts of our lives and pathways are not only interchanging, but intermingle to help strengthen our being, character, and our self-discovery.
About the Author
Mary Clark, poet and author, was born in New Jersey and has lived in Florida, New York, and Virginia. She worked at several community-based agencies, was active in civic organizations, and started a community newspaper in Hell's Kitchen, New York City. Her first book, Tally: An Intuitive Life, was published by All Things That Matter Press in 2013. Visit her on the Miami Morning Facebook page and at her blog: http://literaryeyes.wordpress.com
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The main character is Leila Payson, a Social Studies teacher in Miami, who goes to South Africa to teach and learns the importance of listening to the people with physical challenges that she served as though they were “equal citizens” of the community rather than “her students” or “disabled.” When she brings this lesson of compassionate perspective back to Miami and applies it in her teaching there, she is able to help resolve a number of challenges that students share with her, including those who are struggling with problems like drug addiction and life issues like disabilities including hearing impairment. As she weaves through these challenges with her students, the reader is privy to both her inner philosophical dialogues and profound communications with students and colleagues. I thought that the highlight of the book was in the deep questions brought up concerning the importance of a strong community for a person facing hearing impairment. She makes a psychologically powerful case that no one overcomes adversity without help from others.
This story is sad at times, and then hilarious at others. It is deep and very thoughtful, and yet it is easy reading. Mary Clark is a master at writing dialogue in such a way that makes the reader feel like you are right there in the conversation. I highly recommend Miami Morning and am looking forward to another Leila Payson story, hoping that the author continues this totally fun and intriguing novel into a series.
by Martha Char Love, author of What's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct
Taking a one year teaching post in South Africa she meets Baruti and Dr. Anna Larsson who's groundbreaking, creative work helps disabled and non-disabled relate. Using what she learns Leila is able to help Raoul become independent, overcoming his feeling of inferiority, of being pitied and a charity case, and in doing so finds deep satisfaction in her life.
Written like a memoir as Leila searches for her calling she wades through a romantic entanglement, interacts with a diversity of friends, and rekindles a family relationship after her mother's futile battle with cancer. Mary Clark writes with heart and the odd dash of humor but her style is technically straightforward and lacks many of the ingredients that would add excitement and intensity in this life-changing journey. However I did like the mystery of the man with the book she keeps stumbling across in her favorite places like the park she volunteers to keep safe and clean and how Mary Clark can wax almost poetic in many of her descriptions.
Among a cast of memorable characters who infuse spirit and sensitivity into this life adventure is Leila Payson a wonderfully genuine and practical character who's loved by all those who call her Miss Pacer. She's passionate about developing people, helping them succeed and is focused, determined and resourceful in every challenge she faces and every opportunity she finds.
"Miami Morning" is interesting reading as Leila in her interaction with Raoul evolves from a skilled teacher into a woman with a firm resolve and higher purpose in helping the disabled.