For August our theme is Trauma and the Road to Recovery. The two selections are Thirty Girls by Susan Minot andI Forgot to Remember by Su Meck.
Thirty Girls by Susan Minot Based on her own background in journalism, Minot creates a gripping fictionalized account of the 1996 abduction of 139 Ugandan schoolgirls by militant guerrillas. Susan Minot has set a novel of quiet humanity and probing intelligence. “Thirty Girls” approaches atrocities with candor yet without sensationalism. She tells her two story threads in alternating chapters.
The novel opens with an abduction from a girl’s boarding school in rural Uganda. Ugandan teen Esther was forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities after being abducted. She struggles to survive and escape. The second strand of the novel concerns an American journalist, Jane Wood, a writer who has traveled to Africa to write about the kidnapped girls and to advocate on their behalves.
By the time Esther's path and Jane's intersect briefly, late in the book, we understand their separate histories. Jane comes away with a story, Esther with a touchstone that may open her up to healing. And Minot shows her readers that war zones cannot be contained within one country, or one region. When cruelty and violence reign, we are all at risk.
I Forgot to Remember by Su Meck is a memoir about one woman's journey after a traumatic brain injury erased all memories of her previous life. She never regained those memories.
Yet after just three weeks in the hospital, Su was released and once again charged with the care of two toddlers and a busy household. Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family, however narrowly, from the near-daily threat of disaster, or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, and read and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the normal life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.
Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, this book is the true story of a woman determined to live life on her own term