When we turn on the TV or read the news online and in papers these days, we often find stories of injustices and violence in our own communities and around the world. With the brokenness around us, we long to hear more stories of hope, reconciliation, and redemption. Over the years I have read a few memorable books that have reminded me of the power of human spirit and displays of courage, compassion, strength, forgiveness, and resilience in the midst of tragedy and injustices. As summer winds down, I hope you take some time to find a quiet space to read books that inspire, challenge, and encourage you to search for truth and hold on to hope.
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
In this moving fictional story of the plight, struggles, and resilience of undocumented refugees, Keita Ali is a long distance runner who is running for his life and his family’s survival. Hill sheds light on issues of prejudice, racism, discrimination, and corruption of the immigration and political system. Through different stories and perspectives, Hill weaves together the voices of those who live on the margins of society and shows the triumph of compassion and courage in the face of injustice.
Where We have Hope by Andrew Meldrum
Where We Have Hope is a powerful and inspiring memoir of a young American journalist, Andrew Meldrum, who lived through the glory and optimism of an independent Zimbabwe in 1980 and also witnessed the corruption and violence in that country under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe over the next twenty years. Meldrum investigated and reported on the grinding reality of the terror and intimidation of Mugabe’s government on the press and citizens until his illegal deportation from his adopted home in 2003. With a strong and passionate voice, Meldrum speaks out against injustice and tells stories of the resiliency and strength of Zimbabweans who are determined to fight for a safe and free country.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
British author Chris Cleave tells a fictional dual narrative about a Nigerian asylum-seeker and a British magazine editor whose lives collide during the oil conflict in the Niger Delta, and who are re-united in England several years later. Cleave attempts to humanize the harsh treatment of asylum seekers in Britain and addresses complex issues of colonialism, globalization, and political violence. Through the friendship and intertwining story of the two women, Cleave challenges the reader to think through ethical dilemmas and consequences of our choices and ways to redeem pain and suffering.
Orphan train by Christina Baker Kline
This remarkable story of survival and hope is based on the little-known period in American history between 1854 and 1929, when so-called ‘orphan trains’ ran regularly from coastal cities in the East to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned, homeless, and orphaned children who hoped to be adopted by a caring and loving family. However, many of the children experienced abuse and trauma and faced hard labour and servitude with their host families. Christina Baker Kline connects together the fictional past and present story of an unlikely friendship between Vivian Daly, a ninety-one-year-old Irish immigrant with a turbulent history, and Molly Ayer, a seventeen-year-old Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes. Out of their loneliness and deep desire for a home and family, the two courageous women journey together to search for acceptance, belonging, and healing from the tragedies in their lives.
Other books on my “must read list” on my bookshelf are:
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai