Here are two great memoir-type books from authors I recently met. I’m excited to share their work:
- Flash of Life — night terrors about your brother can’t be good
- Ties That Bind — the joys of growing up
by Lani Kauten
In Lani Kauten’s twenty-five page Flash of Life (2018), for no known reason, Lani starts having terrorizing dreams that involve her brother. He has always been her soulmate, confidante, dependably there to comfort her whenever she is worried. She has no idea why dreams filled with violence, peopled with threatening faces she can’t decipher as they wiz by in a blur, would involve him. Every night, after who knows how long, they reach a climax that awakens her, sweating and shaking, and she refuses to go back to sleep for fear they return.
“When I try to reach out to find you, lights from passing windows much like those of an airplane appear.”
She tries calling him, visiting his house, leaving messages, but he seems to have disappeared. When the dreams take a dramatic turn to night terrors like she’s never before had, and always, in the 3 a.m. hour, she becomes desperate to find her brother. Partly, this is because she’s frightened something has happened to him, and another part because she hopes finding him will end the night terrors.
“I’ve gone by your house a dozen times hoping that if I saw you, somehow it would put an end to these night terrors. But instead I’m met with endless loops of unanswered doorbell rings, and my calls forwarded to your answering machine.”
But that is only part of the story. As Lani shares her desperate search, she explores with us the close relationship the two siblings had, one she always thought would last forever:
“…The house where we forged that bond between brother and sister that I thought we’d have into our old age. … Where I waited for you every day to come home from school. “Look what I learned today, Johnny.” I would say. “I learned how to do a cartwheel. See.” You were always so attentive.”
Where did it go so wrong that these precious memories are now fodder for her deadly treacherous dreams?
This story called to me because I feel this same way about a brother I thought was my soulmate. His ‘disappearance’ is not physical but no less upsetting. I have no doubt Lani’s emotional words and gripping story will resonate with lots of people like me.
by Suzanne Winfrey Chun
Suzanne Winfrey Chun’s memoir, Ties That Bind (Bookpatch LLC 2018) recounts the adventures of a completely normal girl growing up in a middle-class American family filled with love, warmth, values, and the kind of support that makes all of us want to take notes on how to parent. Chun’s world preceded cell phones, hackers, drugs, and a world that wouldn’t allow kids to explore their neighborhood without a helicopter mom. Young Suzanne is a pistol by every measure with the kind of energy and enthusiasm for life that makes everyone forgive her transgressions (like sliding down banisters and naming her male cat Lucy). She rightfully refers to her memories as ‘treasures’, to be cherished. This cozy feel-good life, one we strive to offer our children, reminds us that everything doesn’t have to go right, mistakes can serve as learning tools, and consequences often end in love.
It starts with a great opening line.
“I’ve lived two lives….”
And then, buried in the middle of this story, somewhere that you could miss if you weren’t paying attention, Chun shares the event that made her want to be a writer. You’ll have to read the book–carefully–to find out. No spoilers here!
Chun also includes three fictional stories that will entertain and inspire. This is highly recommended for those who love down-to-earth Everyman stories to remind us that among life’s warts are pearls.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, Spring 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning