“Etched in Sand” –A Book Review

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“When you’re a kid with no one to protect you, everything comes with a price.”

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra is an eye-opening memoir. This story tells of the impoverishment Regina and her four siblings had to endure throughout their childhood in Long Island.

Each child has a different father (none of which are in the picture), and their alcoholic mother is both verbally and physically abusive. Leaving the kids on their own for weeks, even months, at a time (to spend time with a new boyfriend or drink herself senseless at a bar), “Cookie’s” kids have never known stability. Regina is tasked with keeping her two younger siblings safe, fed, and sheltered. Sadly, this task is much easier when their mother, Cookie, is away.

“To me, feeling secure means the opposite of what it means to most kids. Children are supposed to find their greatest safety and comfort in the arms of their mothers. Instead, Cookie’s homecoming is our darkest danger, like the worst storm anyone can imagine.”

One night, after Cookie stumbles home from wherever she’s been holed up for the past several months, she decides to take out her aggression on Regina. But this time, the damage is too extensive to hide, and school authorities report it to social services. With the promise of keeping her two younger siblings safe and away from their mother’s grasp, Regina is “tricked” into telling her social worker everything. However, she soon learns that kids like her are often thrown under the bus by the system put in place to keep them safe.

“We’re poor. We have no connections and even fewer resources, and we’ve learned not to trust anyone who says You can trust me. We’ve had to put our faith in the people who treat us coldly, who attempt to prey on our vulnerabilities and take advantage of us; but in the end, no one can really save us from our own hard reality. Every single one of us has had to climb out of our childhood and help ourselves.”

“When you live on the fringes of society with no resources, you have no voice, and your complaints are easily ignored.”

Ripped apart from her younger siblings, Regina must learn how to navigate the world on her own (while still struggling to keep her family together). Somehow, through more hardships than most of us can even begin to imagine, she manages to pick herself up and create a good life.

“Maybe my impossible upbringing sets me apart from the rest. I’ve cultivated a strong work ethic and faith in my capacity to take care of myself.”

 “The older I get, the more I’m convinced: I’ve suffered for a reason. It’s a reason I don’t know yet, but it’s been circling me—a forecast of something mighty.”

This spell bounding account will have you thanking the heavens for everything you have and help to remind you that there is always someone out there worse off than you. I give this heartfelt piece four out of five stars.

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“The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight”—A Book Review

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is simply a delight! This tale takes place over a twenty-four-hour-hour-period, is fast paced, and nearly impossible to put down.

Hadley is having beyond the worst day. She misses her flight to London, where she is headed to attend her father’s wedding, and she’s never even met the bride! So not only is Hadley already super cranky about having to go to her father’s wedding (when she feels so betrayed by him for being so void in her life and moving to London in the first place), but now she is stuck at the JFK airport, waiting for the next available flight, which will put her arriving in London with not a minute to spare.

While waiting for the next flight, she meets Oliver. He’s British, incredibly cute, and going to college in the U.S. Call it fate, call it happenstance, call it a coincidence, call it whatever you like, but something brought these two together again, putting them sitting next to each other on the long plane ride to the UK.

Over the course of the 7 hour trip, the two strangers get to know one another, talking about everything under the sun, and even divulging things they have never told another soul. Is it completely insane to fall in love with someone you don’t even know? Probably, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

This pulse pounding and heart-wrenching Teen novel with have you believing in the miracle of love and hope again. I guarantee you will be cheering these two young protagonists on, just as I did! I give this quick and fun read four stars!

 

As Hadley and Oliver are departing the plane and are headed to two separate Customs lines:

 “But before she can move any farther she feels a hand on her elbow, and just like that Oliver is beside her again. He looks down at her with his head tilted, his hand still firmly on her arm, and before she has a chance to be nervous, before she even fully realizes what’s happening, she hears him mummer “What the hell,” and then, to her surprise, he bends to kiss her.”

…seriously, people: Le Sigh, and also, Eeeeeap!

 

The New York Times Book Review

“A gorgeous, heartwarming reminder of the power of fate… an endearing and lushly written account of how it feels to fall in love, the unique heartbreak of parental disappointment and what it means to forgive those who’ve hurt us deeply.”