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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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Top customer reviews
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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
Almost serenely aware “of being on the threshold of accomplishment”, Leila’s restlessness doesn’t make her impatient or impulsive, just active, her movement not always surefooted but, like many a Miami morning, contentedly and expectantly taking her towards an “opening horizon”. Her steps are more proactive than reactive. For example, after breaking up with a lover, she is determined not to cling to “the anguish of love”; instead she accepts the teaching post in South Africa to pursue fulfillment as a teacher and public-spirited, evolving individual.
Certainly, Leila’s quest is for more insight and meaning on the “long journey of life”, but she also seeks a way towards trust—of others, but mainly of herself. She values her interactions with students, colleagues, and friends, is constant and accessible in her relationships, while being easily solitary and essentially private. She gives the novel its heart and spirit, and is someone I immediately engaged with and cared about.
"Miami Morning" showcases Ms. Clark’s ability to effectively construct an enticing narrative with intelligence, conscience, and poetic observation and reflection. Her writing is grounded, but has room for mystery, even kismet. It makes one think deeply and consider the wider world and issues that need collective awareness and addressing. Through interesting dialogue it explores ideas and allows the reader under the skin of the characters. Delicious descriptions of flora and fauna, land and sea, country and city are seamlessly interwoven with the plot lines. I often reread passages for their breathtaking views of the various locations along the way of Leila’s journey, right up to the last pages when there is a going off course that doesn’t bring Leila’s pilgrimage to an end, but turns it towards a new “impulse to love”, deeper understanding of a “shared universe”, and, with a not too lingering glance over her shoulder, acknowledgement that the past has well prepared her for the future.
DM Denton Author of A House Near Luccoli and To A Strange Somewhere Fled