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Saved by Her Enemy: An Iraqi woman's journey from the heart of war to the heartland of America
Saved by Her Enemy: An Iraqi woman's journey from the heart of war to the heartland of America
by Don Teague
Edition: Hardcover
128 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saved By Her Enemy. By Don Teague and Rafraf Barrak. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Saved By Her Enemy is a true story about the improbable friendship between an Iraqi college girl and an American war correspondent, during the Iraqi war. It is a story about war and being uprooted. Rafraf was working as a translator for NBC, Don as an NBC war correspondent, when they were almost killed by an explosion. Later, because of her work as a translator, Rafraf becomes a target of the insurgents. With Don's help, Rafraf leaves her country to begin a new life in the United States. Living with his Christian family in the Bible Belt of America, Rafraf discovers a different truth than what she'd been taught to believe about Americans.

The book is divided into chapters, with each author sharing their account alternately. "Like many Iraqis, Rafraf and Alaa knew little about the capabilities of the U.S. military. They had no idea, for example, that pilots have night vision equipment that allows them to see in near total darkness. They were also unaware that the majority of munitions being dropped on the city were precision-guided, each aimed at a specific military or strategic target. Nor did they know that the U.S. military fights by rules designed to limit civilian casualties. In Rafraf's mind, this war was about America killing as many Iraqis as possible."(32) Throughout the book, Rafraf recognizes the harm and injustices caused by her own people. A school headmaster reported to an informant that boys had joked about Saddam. Days later, the boys were taken, never to be seen again. She remembered being treated poorly herself. "For all of her life, Rafraf felt she had been treated like a second-class citizen. Not just because she was a Shiite in a nation that favored Sunnis. She was second-class because she was a woman."(60) "She felt scrutinized, judged, evaluated, intimidated, even threatened by the way men looked at her. That Jordanian translator had done the same thing, hadn't he? He'd tried to put Rafraf in her place with a look."(60) Rafraf also knew how it felt when Iraqi men didn't look at her in her eyes when she spoke and she noticed that American men did. "She knew well the verse from the Koran that says, "Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be conducive to their purity. The problem was that Rafraf interpreted the refusal of most men to look her in the eye as a sign of disrespect, not honor. That, she realized, was why she was so interested in how these Americans looked at her. Frank and West both looked Rafraf in the eye when they spoke to her. She interpreted that as a sign of respect."(61) When asked to do an interview by an American reporter, she was told by an Iraqi translator exactly what to say. "Don't say anything bad about Saddam. Just praise the government and say the U.S. is hurting Iraqi children."(63) Later, Rafraf became a translator herself. She would eventually have to leave the country because of it. When in America, Rafraf must adjust to a new home and family. Her relationship with God is changing too. "Rafraf saw coming to America as an opportunity to redefine who she was. She could still hold true to her beliefs, but with different boundaries. Millions of Muslim women around the world chose not to wear the scarf and were still faithful to Allah."(251)

Don and his wife Kiki teach Rafraf many things about human goodness. Rafraf learns that she will not be beaten when she chooses not to follow instructions. She will be allowed to make most of her own decisions. She learns that Americans do not hate Iraqis like she thought. "I think they can tell I'm Iraqi so they hate me," "I've got news for you Rafraf, most Americans don't give Iraqis- or anybody else for that matter--a second thought. This country is made up of people from all over the world. Sure, some are racists, like in any country, but I can't imagine anyone here hating you because of where you're from." "But your country went to war with Iraq. You must hate us." "That's not why countries go to war," Don said. "Of course it is. Iraqis hate Iranians so we went to war with them. We also hate Kuwaitis and went to war with them. And it's not just us. Jews hate Arabs, so they fight the Palestinians. Bosnians hate Serbs, so they went to war." "So who do you hate?" "Jews," she said flatly. "Everybody hates Jews." "Okay, stop! Even if you do hate Jews, you can't say things like that here. And you're going to have to get over the whole hate thing. Americans don't hate."(250)

Together, Rafraf and Don, prove to the world that love and understanding do exist even in the midst of war. This true story of the war in Iraq is eye- opening. That such a life changing friendship was forged through this heart-breaking experience is inspiring and hopeful. The book educates the reader about the truths of the Iraqi war, the U.S. military, the Iraqi military and Iraqi culture. It also reveals common misconceptions held by countries for one another. These false beliefs can only be dispelled through open communication. This kind of friendship is an example to us all.


French Women Don't Get Fat
French Women Don't Get Fat
by Mireille Guiliano
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.97
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French Woman Don't Get Fat. By Mirielle Guiliano. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
French Women Don't Get Fat is a memoir that is also a cookbook and a guide for American woman on weight control. Written by Mireille Guiliano, a French American woman born in France and raised both in France and America, the book uncovers the reasons that French woman are not fat yet they eat things that are seen as unhealthy by American woman, such as bread, butter, chocolate and wine. The book explores the cultural differences between French and American woman and how these translate into the weight problem many American woman have. Filled with rich stories, recipes and French cultural wisdom, the author unravels the mystery of the "French Paradox." Guiliano suggests that the answer to the question, why French Woman Don't Get Fat, lies in the fundamental differences between how French and American woman view food and life.

For the French woman, eating is part of a ritual and the preparation and the presentation are as important as the eating. This is not so for many American woman. In this way, French woman are burning calories through the shopping as they walk to the market and as they prepare the meal from quality ingredients in their own kitchens. The foods they eat are fresh that day from the market. They do not eat poor quality food or drink. "...the great majority of Americans are conditioned to demand and accept bland, processed, chemically treated, generally unnatural foods, which through packaging and marketing have been made to seem wholesome. I have no doubt that any people made to eat this way would in time grow fat. Among the French, by contrast, a love of good natural food is part of the universal patrimony. Not that French don't pay more for quality. On the average, they spend a much greater proportion of their income on food. But what seems like a luxury to Americans is a necessity to the French. The key to cooking, and therefore living well, is the best ingredients."(77) The author goes on to explain how indulging in pleasures is important to maintaining a healthy weight and life. "Too often, American women eat on the sly, and the result is much more guilt than pleasure. The tendency goes with an attitude that should be changed. Nothing is sinfully delicious. If you really enjoy something, as I adore chocolate, there is a place for it in your life. Only with cultivated pleasure can you enjoy chocolate in the clear light of day."(182) As for exercise, the author shares that the American view of all or nothing is far from the French view of slow and steady. "American woman seem to have two modes: sitting or spinning. French women prefer the gentler, more regular varieties of all-day movement--"the slow burn," in American terms."(207)

Living in two cultures has given Guiliano great insights that she shares almost lyrically. Her French way of living is wonderfully wise and romantic. She has created a notable memoir, that can enrich and empower all woman with a healthier view of food and life.


Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself
Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself
by Ann Mah
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.30
109 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen Chinese. By Ann Mah. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Kitchen Chinese is a fictional novel about a Chinese American woman named Isabelle, who loses her job in New York City and moves to Beijing to live with her sister and make a new life for herself. It is a story about ethnicity, food, and finding yourself. Isabelle learns to adapt to her new home in Beijing through her love of food, family and friends.

Through out the novel, the author reflects on her parents and their Chinese roots. "My mother's feelings for China were filled with the wistfulness of an exile, expressed with all the melodrama of a soap star. Even after thirty years in America, she still regarded herself as Chinese; her deepest regret--expressed many times over family dinner--was that I didn't speak fluent Mandarin."(22) After relocating to Beijing, Isabelle starts to feel the stress of being in another country. "I stand by an empty table, awkward and unsure. For the first time, I realize how difficult it will be to live in China, a foreigner by nature, with the appearance of a local. For a moment, I feel overwhelmed by the prospect, but then Geraldine sits, and I sit across from her."(42) Then later, Isabelle and her friend reflect on the irony of their own immigration back to China. "Isn't it ironic? Fifty years ago our grandparents left their native countries to make a better life in the new world. And yet two generations later we're in China, finding better opportunities than in the States. Back home we'd just be cogs in the wheel. Here, we're inventing the wheel."(318)

The title of the book Kitchen Chinese has an interesting origin. After Isabella moves to Beijing, she is interviewing for a staff writer position at a top newspaper. The interviewer asks if she can speak Chinese. She pauses, and then says not fluently. The interviewer quickly ends the interview saying that they were really looking for someone who was fluent in Chinese. Later, on her next interview at the Magazine, the interviewer asks the same question. She replies a little conversational Chinese from when I was little in my mother`s kitchen. The interviewer then asks if she can say steamed rice- Bai mi fan! Braised beef? Hogshao niurou. Broccoli, carrots, potatoes? Xilan hua, hong luo bo, tudou. He says, I knew you'd be fine. That's Isabelle's "Kitchen Chinese."

Isabelle finds a new life through her love of cooking and writing. She learns what it's like to be an immigrant in reverse. "In the end, perhaps this is the gift China has given to me: not the chance to discover my roots, but the opportunity to realize a dream."(321) The author has a lively realistic style. She uses every day situations and characters to develop a theme of ethnic identity and possibility. Interesting Chinese historical references, nuances of Chinese culture, together with savory authentic recipes makes this novel a delight to read.


I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
by Giulia Melucci
Edition: Hardcover
106 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti: A Memoir. By Giulia Melucci. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti is a memoir of a single Italian American Woman living in New York City. Growing up in Brooklyn, she was raised in an Italian American household where family was the most important thing and cooking for your family was the way that a woman expressed her love. I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, is a cookbook then, about love and life. Because of her Italian upbringing, the author was raised to show her love through cooking. Though her love life is constantly changing, her love of cooking is constant.

Guilia learns how to cook authentic Italian dishes from her mother growing up. This is how her mother expressed her love for her family. Guilia too, shows her affection through cooking. She prepares sumptuous meals for each new love interest however long it lasts, and always for her friends. Cooking is how she says "I Love You" "No, the best balm for a broken heart is nourishing food you make in your kitchen (or better yet, food cooked for you by a dear friend; I am fortunate to have many who are great cooks). Food that tells your heart and mind that you are taking care of yourself, at least for now, until the next man comes along, as he always does, and you're happily cooking for two again."(2) "Dad worked hard and Mom fed us well; those were the main avenues in which we could discern their love and commitment to our well being."(15) One of Guilia's best friends who share's the same ethnic background consoles Guilia through her latest break-up by cooking her a meal. "She, too, is a brilliant cook who has served me a plethora of delicious meals while listening to tales of my many romantic peaks and valleys."(48)

The author finds comfort in the fact that her love of cooking will see her through a life full of romantic ups and downs. The difference between the cooking as an expression of love that she was raised with and the cooking that Guilia shares, is that she is not cooking for her husband, that one true-love. Her love life is mixed up and never the same. Her cooking is more dependable. Where, for her mother, love and cooking mirrored each other more closely, because both were stable, for Guilia, it was the cooking that was the most comforting, the most stable. Besides her boyfriend, her cooking becomes her most important thing. "But still, cooking was mine. It relaxed me. It had become, next to Ethan, the most important thing. It was a way to make sense out of my internal chaos. There is logic and order to cooking. What you put into it has everything to do with what you get out of it. With love, it's not so cut-and-dried."(80)


Little Bee: A Novel
Little Bee: A Novel
by Chris Cleave
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.52
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Little Bee. By Chris Cleave. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
This review is from: Little Bee: A Novel (Paperback)
Little Bee is a historical fiction novel about a Nigerian refugee who escapes to Great Britain because of war, spends two years in a refugee camp there, but is eventually discovered and deported back to her home country. The novel is written through both the eyes of the Nigerian girl named Little Bee, and an English journalist named Sarah. Throughout the novel, Both Little Bee and Sarah search for safety and peace, with a realization that the ordeals they've experienced, along with the scars, are a part of them, no matter where they try to escape to.

Little Bee and Sarah meet on a Nigerian beach, traumatized forever by the rebel forces. One summer Sarah and her husband go to Nigeria on a holiday not realizing that they are in danger. The beach is being attacked and the Nigerian girl Little Bee and her sister are hiding nearby. The rebels are ready to kill them all, when the leader says that he will spare Little Bee's sister if the Englishman will cut off his middle finger. He cannot do it. Sarah cuts off her own finger instead. The leader says she has saved Little Bee but he refused to save the sister. Little Bee tries to escape from the trauma. "I stowed away in a great steel boat, but the horror stowed away inside me. When I left my homeland I thought I had escaped-but out on the open sea, I started to have nightmares. I was naÔve to suppose I had left my country with nothing. It was a heavy cargo that I carried."(46) Sarah struggles with her trauma also. "In my mind I watched the killers taking little Bee and Kindness along the beach. I watched them disappear. I watched them pass over the horizon of my world into that dangerous country in my mind where I lay awake at night, thinking of the things those men might have done to them."(125)

Little Bee has spent two years in a refugee camp in the United Kingdom and decides that she will learn the Queen's English better than anyone else. This should help her stay safe in her new home. No one will suspect that she is not a citizen. "To talk the Queen's English, I had to forget all the best tricks of my mother tongue. For example, the Queen could never say, There was plenty wahala, that girl done use her bottom power to engage my number one son and anyone could see she would end in the bad bush. Instead the Queen must say, My late daughter-in-law used her feminine charms to become engaged to my heir, and one might have foreseen that it wouldn't end well."(3) The author then creates the immigration story by offering Little Bee's "Queen" perspective on an occurrence in contrast to her Nigerian girl view. Little Bee shares her pain of being fourteen years old and put in the cold immigration center with the adults because she had no papers. Additionally, she expresses the deep disconnect that all immigrants feel to some degree. "Those cold years are frozen inside me. The African girl they locked up in the immigration detention center, poor child, she never really escaped. In my soul she is still locked up in there, forever..."(7) "They say, That refugee girl is not one of us. That girl does not belong."(8) "So, I am a refugee, and I get very lonely. Is it my fault if I do not look like an English girl and I do not talk like a Nigerian?"(8)

Cleave cleverly shares the struggles of the two narrators through the atrocities of war to their personal identities. The author creates dialogue between Little Bee and the reader with a creative narrative style. His use of alternate streams of consciousness, Little Bee's two identities within herself; The Nigerian girl and the Queen's English girl, make this novel lively and humorous considering the tragic subject matter.


A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.62
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. By Ishmael Beah. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
A Long Way Gone is a an auto biographical novel of Ishmael Beah. It is his personal story of war in the Sierra Leone. It all starts in 1993, when Ishmael is 12 years old. He recounts that the war broke out in his village Mogbwemo when he was away with Junior and Talloi, learning rap music, at his grandmother's village. Ishmael sees a Volkswagen pull up to his grandmothers house. First, a man, vomits blood, then a woman, and bloody children in the back. They had tried to escape when the rebels opened fire on them. That night, he dreams that he is shot. He wakes up and checks the side where he dreamt he was shot, confused about what was real and what was a dream. "I woke up and hesitantly touched my side, I became afraid, since I could no longer tell the difference between dream and reality."(15) Ishmael deals with the tragedies of this war in many ways. He tries to sing rap songs, memorizing more and more lyrics in order to block out the sounds of war. He also guides his thoughts back to his childhood, to happier days in his village, so that he can have good memories of these places that are now war torn. He remembers a man that used to tell him to be like the moon. His grandmother explained that the sun is sometimes to hot, and the rain is not always good, but the moon gives much happiness-therefore we should always try to be good to others, as the moon is. "A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon..." (17) "Whenever I get the chance to observe the moon now, I will see those images I saw when I was six, and it pleases me to know that that part of my childhood is still embedded in me."(17)

Throughout the book, Ishmael uses stream of consciousness to go back and forth between his new life in New York City, his life during the war, and his childhood, before the war. "A shudder racked my body, and I tried to think about my new life in New York City, where I had been for over a month,. But my mind wandered across the Atlantic Ocean back to Sierra Leone." (19) "We opened fire until the last living being in the group fell to the ground. We walked toward the dead bodies, giving each other high fives. The group had also consisted of young boys like us, but we didn't care about them. We took their ammunition, sat on their bodies, and started eating the cooked food they had been carrying. All around us, fresh blood leaked from the bullet holes in their bodies."(19) "I stayed awake all night, anxiously waiting for daylight, so that I could fully return to my new life, to rediscover the happiness I had known as a child, the joy that had stayed alive inside me even through times when being alive itself became a burden. These days I live in three worlds: my dreams, and the experiences of my new life, which trigger memories from the past."(20) He shares another painful memory of the rebels coming to their village, and the sick twisting of meaning and symbols during the war. "One of the messengers was a young men. They had carved their initials, RUF, on his body with a hot bayonet and chopped off all of his fingers with the exception of his thumbs. The rebels called this mutilation "one love." Before the war, people raised a thumb to say "One love" to each other, an expression popularized by the love and influence of reggae music." (21) After many years of war, Ishmael goes back to his uncle's home and meets Mr. Kamura. Mr. Kamura works for the UN in the CAW program (Children Associated with the War). He announces to Ishmael, that he has been chosen to go to the UN in New York City, to talk to people about the war. This is how Ishmael comes to the United States. He is among 57 children among 23 countries who have gathered to tell their stories at the United Nations First International Children's Parliament. Relationships are made and Ishmael goes back to Sierra Leone with great hope. There is peace for a time and then, another democratically chosen government is overthrown, bringing another war. Ishmael doesn't know if he can make it this time. "The entire nation crumbled into a state of lawlessness. I hated what was happening. I couldn't return to my previous life. I didn't think I could make it out alive this time."(203)

Though his life has been filled with tragedy, the author finds wisdom and joy in the memories of his childhood. The author uses stream of consciousness and tribal story-telling to weave his novel and share his heart wrenching war-torn life in Sierra Leone. His tale is a real account of modern-day war and a call for the world to wake up and work to put an end to it. Ishmael also communicates the complexities of the war. He ends the novel by sharing an old riddle told to the children of Siera Leone once a year. The story goes that a hunter is hunting a monkey. The monkey speaks: "If you shoot me, your mother will die, and if you don't, your father will die..."(217) The children are asked, "What would you do if you were the hunter." Ishmael ends the novel by sharing his answer. "When I was seven I had an answer to this question that made sense to me. I never discussed it with anyone, though, for fear of how my mother would feel. I concluded to myself that if I were the hunter, I would shoot the monkey so that it would no longer have the chance to put other hunters in the same predicament."(218)


Stealing Buddha's Dinner
Stealing Buddha's Dinner
by Bich Minh Nguyen
Edition: Paperback
50 used & new from $1.42

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stealing Buddha's Dinner. By Minh Nguyen. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Stealing Buddha's Dinner is the memoir of a Vietnamese American woman named Bich. Her family relocates to Grand Rapids, Mi where she grows up as a Vietnamese American in the 1980`s. Michigan's own GR-the city of homogenous milk-- I mean blondes, causes extreme identity crises for the young Vietnamese immigrant. With American popular culture by her side, Bich forges through her childhood, and manages to keep more than a few good memories.

Bich was just eight months old, her sister two years, when they fled Saigon. Traveling with her father, grandmother and uncles, her mother was not with them. Their route was first to the Philippines , then Guam, and then to Arkansas in the U.S. Once at the refugee camp, they were given three choices of where they would like to relocate; California, Wyoming, and Michigan. Her grandmother's friend had told her that her son received a scholarship to the University of Michigan and so...Michigan it was. Throughout the book, the author struggles with being different than everyone else. "In school hallways blond heads glided, illuminated in the lockers creaking open and slamming shut taunting me to be what I only wished I could be. That was the dilemma, the push and pull. The voice saying, Come on in. Now transform. And if you cannot, then disappear."(11) The fact that it wasn't trendy yet to be ethnic in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, added to Bich's push factor. "Throughout my childhood I wondered, so often it became a buzzing dullness, why we had ended up here, and why we couldn't leave. I would stare at the map of the United States and imagine us in New York or Boston or Los Angeles. I had no idea what such cities were like, but I was convinced people were happier out on the coasts, living in a nexus between so much land and water."(12) Happiness was never far with the fast food nation at it's peak, and Bich enjoyed much of it. From Pringles to Bublicious, she devoured America's finest snacks. A Burger King drive through story is a vivid memory. Her father and Mexican step-mother are driving through a Burger King because they heard that if you said, "Whopper beat the Big Mac," you would get a free whopper. Her father said it first, then her step-mother, then her sisters. She wasn't quite sure...when she saw her father giving her a look. Then she noticed that her sisters were starting to do the same. "Out of the corner of my eye I could see my sisters looking intently away, as if already separating themselves from me...I leaned forward and whispered, "Whopper beat the Big Mac."(55)

The author's affection for American popular culture helps her assimilate as Vietnamese American. Throughout the book, Bich struggles with the empty feeling of being unaccepted. A meeting with her long lost mother brings more questions and unidentifiable feelings. The author has a pleasing style of prose that is subtlety humorous. Bich's assimilation story is multi-layered and excitingly unique.


Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo, Revised Edition
Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo, Revised Edition
by Zlata Filipovic
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wastime Sarajevo. By Zlata Filipovic. Review By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo is a true account of a young girl who lived through the horrible war in Sarajevo. Later she was forced to emigrate, first to France, and then to Ireland. The book is Zlata Filipovac's own diary spanning two years, from September 1991 to October 1993. In December of 1993, Zlata and her parents got on a UN plane and flew to Paris. This is where she graduated from high school. In 1995, they moved to Dublin, where she remains living today. Before the war, Zlata's diary served as a memory book of birthday parties and school days, while during the war, it became her confidante-helping her express the sorrow of those days.

In the beginning of the book, Zlata shares her feelings about everyday events like looking forward to birthdays and preparing to start a new school year. She is from an upper class family and lives in a beautiful city apartment. She has music lessons twice a week and likes school a lot. She loves to listen to popular music and watch MTV. After the war begins, she writes about hearing the shells of ammunition every day. She gets stir crazy because she hasn't been out of the house in a month. She writes about her Mom and Dad and how worried they are every day. Her Mother cries... Her father goes to fight. She has her cat Cici to talk to. It is a sad day when Cici dies. She talks of hunger and lack of water. Her best friend Nina dies... She laments the loss of her childhood. Her diary gave her an outlet for expressing this trauma. ""I knew where to turn to first--the diary, And it is still here today, as a confidante, a way of getting this out of my heart and my head, a way of getting some perspective on problems and ideas. Everything feels so much different and easier when it is externalized on a blank page that does not judge or say anything back. I think it was really important for me to have written during the war, because in the madness that was around me, in the uncontrollable fear and uncertainty, the only space I had that I could truly control was writing in my diary. I realize today that it helped keep me sane, as well as remaining a record of a very strange time in my life, and in the history of my city and country." (xiii) The author is also a refugee and a migrant, as she leaves her country to live in France, and later Ireland. After living through the war relocating brings more challenges. "Upon leaving for Paris, I started another chapter of my life, that of a refugee, migrant, someone who no longer lived in her country of birth where she thought she would spend her whole life." (xv) "The question of belonging is complicated even when you go back to your country of birth--even though I have been living in Ireland, I will never be fully Irish, just as I am no longer fully Bosnian since I have been out of Bosnia for twelve years now." (xvi)

Today, Zlata's diary still consoles people who survived the war Sarajevo and reminds the world that truly- innocent people's lives were lost in this senseless 21rst century war. "...many other people have told me they use the diary to remember not only the time of war, but also to remember that humanity and strength and remember Sarajevo and Bosnia the way they were before the war." (xiv) Her diary informs the reader of the reality of war on a personal level through her thoughts and feelings each day. In this way, the diary reminds the reader of a senseless war that stole her childhood one day at a time.


Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America
by Firoozeh Dumas
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.52
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny in Farsi:A memoir of Growing Up Iranian In America. By Firoozeh Dumas. Review By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Funny in Farsi is the memoir of an Iranian American woman growing up in America. Though she has been uprooted and faced serious challenges, she writes about these experiences in a delightful comedic way. Using a variety of adaption methods including humor, the author learns to handle every day prejudice like a professional juggler.

The book begins when the family emigrates from Iran, to the United States. Firoozeh was seven years old when her family moved to Whittier, California, from Abadan, Iran. Each chapter presents a funny story displaying the characters of her life. Like a stand up comedian, every story has a punch line. When Firoozeh starts second grade, her mother accompanies her to the class room. Her teacher has already written only her name on the board, F-I-R-O-O-Z-E-H, with IRAN under it. The teacher then calls her mother up to show the class where Iran is on the map. Her mother, not understanding English, just stands there in front of the class, for what seems to be forever. This is just the beginning of the awkward embarrassing days of her youth. She soon figured out that living in California, if you weren't blonde, the only other thing you could be was Mexican. This worked really well as long as she kept her mouth shut..."People rarely asked us where we were from, because in Newport Beach, the rule of thumb was, "If not blonde, then Mexican." People would ask me things like "Could you please tell Lupe that she doesn't have to clean our house next week, since we're going to be on vacation."(38) Later in the book, Firoozeh deals with the name issue. "Exotic analogies aside, having a foreign name in this land of Joes and Marys is a pain in the spice cabinet. I finally chose the name "Julie" mainly for its simplicity. My brothers Farid and Farshid, thought that adding an American name was totally stupid. They later became Fred and Sean."(64) She uses the name Julie all through junior high and high school and is happy with the results. Later, Firoozeh decides to go back to her real name for college. "Even though I graduated with honors from UC-Berkeley, I couldn't get a single interview. I was guilty of being a humanities major, but I began to suspect that there was more to my problems. After three months of rejections, I added "Julie" to my resume. Call it Coincidence, but the job offers started coming in. Perhaps it's the same kind of coincidence that keeps African Americans from getting cabs in New York."(65)

Through great amounts of humor and flexibility, Firoozeh successfully adapts to life in America, in spite of its prejudices. Her experiences are similar to other immigrant stories in that identity issues and diaspora are both evident. What is refreshing is the author's ability to craft a joke with great wit and uncanny timing in the face of such serious matters.


Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer
by Maureen Ogle
Edition: Paperback
30 used & new from $2.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious Brew The Story of American Beer. By Maureen Ogle. Reviewed By: Lisa Panetta-Sawaya, MA, Michigan, USA, June 8, 2010
Ambitious Brew The Story Of American Beer is a social history tracing the roots of American beer back to the German American immigrants and their American Dream. As German immigrants poured into America, they brought with them their craft of making beer. From time immeasurable, beer was a focal point of the German cultural life. For German American immigrants, beer making was not only a business trade but also a deeply steeped cultural tradition.

Ambitious Brew chronicles the history of American beer beginning with the first German American immigrants. Phillip Best was one of the earliest German immigrants to construct a brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The book highlights iconic beer moguls and their immigrant stories with well documented facts and historic photographs. Histories include: Best, Pabst, Anheuser, Busch, Budweiser, Schlitz, Schandein and Uihleins, to name a few. It was during the early 1840's that most of the German immigrant beer makers came to America. These Germans were part of the Second Great Wave of European Immigration, which took place between the years of 1865- 1890. German immigrants came to America for many reasons. "The Bests had emigrated from a village called Mettenheim, where a Marley-like chain of war and poverty, taxes and regulations, shackled their ambitions."(5) "In America one knows nothing about taxes. Here one does not need to worry about beggars as we do in Germany. Here a man works for himself. Here the one is equal to the other. Here no one takes off his hat to another. We no longer long for Germany." "Everyday," he added, "we thank the dear God that he has brought us...out of slavery into Paradise,"(9)

With an entrepreneurial can do spirit, these German beer makers first established their businesses amongst a market of fellow German immigrants. "Germans for the most part who had set up shop in order to supply beer to the other immigrants. But both the tavern owners' and the brewers' market was driven by their clientele: In the first ten years of German-American brewing, lager was consumed almost exclusively by German-speaking immigrants."(16) American Beer making by German immigrants was also an adaption method, a way for the Germans to preserve part of their heritage by continuing their traditional craft. "Brewing and beer had been part of Germanic culture for centuries. Ancient northern sagas, among them Kalevala and Edda, memorialized fermented beverages as gifts from the gods and as the source of poetry. For centuries, Germanic tribes prized ale as food, and as the centerpiece of the drinking fests that preceded and followed warfare. By the fourteenth century, beer-- fermented barley cooked with hops as a preservative--had become central to German culture. To drink with friends was to celebrate life and its bounty. People affirmed wedding vows, settled arguments, and sealed contracts with glasses of beer, which served in those cases as a sacramental offering to the event."(17)

The author presents the German immigrants historic relationship to beer making from both a cultural and business perspective. The combination of immigration history and famous American brewery stories makes this book very entertaining. The inclusion of more recent American Beer success stories gives the book a contemporary usefulness offering a nod to the future brewers every where.


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