Memoir

Book Review: Navigating Life Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me by Margaux Bergen

Navigating-life

Title: Navigating Life Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me
Author: Margaux Bergen
Publisher: Penguin Press
ISBN: 9781594206290

Synopsis:

You learn a few useful things at school–the three Rs come in handy, and it’s good to know how to perform under pressure and wait your turn–but most of what matters, what makes you into a functioning human being, able to hold your own in conversation, find your path, know what to avoid in relationships and secure a meaningful job, no teacher will ever tell you.This diamond-sharp, gut-punchingly honest book of hard-earned wisdom is one mother’s effort to equip her daughter for survival in the real world.

Wise, heartbreakingly funny, and resonantly true, Navigating Life has invaluable lessons for students of life of all ages. It will challenge you to lead a more meaningful life and to tackle the bumps along the way with grace, grit, style, and ingenuity. What The Blessings of a Skinned Knee did for the early years of parenting, Navigating Life does for the next, far more perilous chapter, when new graduates are cast out on the high seas and have to learn to swim and find their way by themselves.

About the Author:

margauxbergenheadshotBorn in Paris and raised in London, educated at Edinburgh University and living in Washington D.C., Margaux Bergen is the mother of three Millennials. She has worked in international development and women’s leadership. And is still learning the extreme sports of raising three children.

My Review:

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Book Review: A memoir of the End of the War and Beginning of Peace by Tei Fujiwara

TEI

Synopsis from the back cover:

Almost seventy years ago, in a nation devastated by World War II,  Tei Fujiwara wrote her memoir 流れる星は生きている (Nagareru Hoshiwa Ikiteiru) about her harrowing journey home with her three young children. But the story of her story is what every reader needs to know.
Tei’s memoir begins in August 1945 in Manchuria. At that time, Tei and her family fled from the invading Soviets who declared war on Japan a few days after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After reaching her home in Japan, Tei wrote what she thought would be a last testament to her young children, who wouldn’t remember their journey and who might be comforted by their mother’s words as they faced an unknown future in post-war Japan.
But several miracles took place after she wrote the memoir. Tei survived and her memoir, originally published in Showa Era 24 [1949] became a best seller in a country still in ruins. Over the following decades, millions of Japanese became familiar with her story through forty-six print runs, the movie version, and a television drama. To understand the war experience, Empress Michiko urged young Japanese to read Tei’s story.
Now English readers will have the chance to read her amazing story of survival and hope, and understand how she influenced an entire generation and a nation
Tei Fujiwwara was born in Japan in 1918 and moved with her family to Manchuria, China in 1943.  As of the printing of this English translation, she is 96 years old and living in a senior home in Tokyo, Japan.

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Book Review – Beijing Bastard by Val Wang

beijing bastard

Synopsis from back book cover:

A humorous and moving coming-of-age story that brings a unique, not-quite-outsider’s perspective to China’s shift from ancient empire to modern superpower

Raised in a strict Chinese-American household in the suburbs, Val Wang dutifully got good grades, took piano lessons, and performed in a Chinese dance troupe—until she shaved her head and became a leftist, the stuff of many teenage rebellions. But Val’s true mutiny was when she moved to China, the land her parents had fled before the Communist takeover in 1949.

Val arrives in Beijing in 1998 expecting to find freedom but instead lives in the old city with her traditional relatives, who wake her at dawn with the sound of a state-run television program playing next to her cot, make a running joke of how much she eats, and monitor her every move. But outside, she soon discovers a city rebelling against its roots just as she is, struggling too to find a new, modern identity. Rickshaws make way for taxicabs, skyscrapers replace hutong courtyard houses, and Beijing prepares to make its debut on the world stage with the 2008 Olympics. And in the gritty outskirts of the city where she moves, a thriving avant-garde subculture is making art out of the chaos. Val plunges into the city’s dizzying culture and nightlife and begins shooting a documentary, about a Peking Opera family who is witnessing the death of their traditional art.

Brilliantly observed and winningly told, Beijing Bastard is a compelling story of a young woman finding her place in the world and of China, as its ancient past gives way to a dazzling but uncertain future.

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