Prolific, award-winning writer Julia Alvarez ’71 has published her first novel for adults in 15 years. Beautifully written, the story centers on main character Antonia Vega, who while dealing with the death of her husband, is also suddenly confronted with the disappearance of one of her sisters as well as a plea for help from an undocumented migrant worker trying to secure a passage for his girlfriend after she crosses the border. Torn between the bonds of family and the needs of the immigrants as she is trying to deal with her own suffering, Antonia questions how much she actually owes to the demands of others and how much to herself. As always, Alvarez writes with an empathy and understanding that draws the reader into the world she has created and in doing so, reveals truths about the world in which we all exist.
The Actual World
In lyrical, sparse words, Jason Tandon ’97 writes of everyday moments and details in his fourth book of poetry, drawing the reader into familiar scenes that can reveal unexplored depths to our humanness. Lines about a two-year-old son, or lying in a hammock, or shelling peas at nine years old are the basic fabric of the poetry, but Tandon often permeates the literal with imaginative reflections that verge on cryptic and mysterious associations. His poems are at once meditative and sensual and intensify how we look at the world around us, illuminating our deepest connections to people and events in our lives.
Susie Caldwell Rinehart
In this compelling memoir, Susie Caldwell Rinehart ’93 tells the moving story of how a medical crisis changes her perceptions of what it means to be a strong woman. She was a leader, a champion runner, a woman who got things done when doctors discovered a tumor on her brainstem. She had always felt that she needed to strive for perfection to be worthy, but after her operations, she suddenly finds herself unable to do more than lie still and do less. She learns to rely on her inner strength in order to heal and move forward. With wisdom and humor, she relates the hard work she puts into becoming the strong woman who knows her own worth, and in so doing, shows that any woman’s worthiness comes from within and not from the expectations and approval of society.
Folklorist and teacher Susan “Charlie” Groth ’87 chose the Lewis Family Fishery on Lewis Island in Lambertville, N.J., as the subject for her fieldwork theory course while in graduate school, thus beginning her ethnography of the fishery’s community and its traditions. In this vibrant, well-written book, she writes the stories of the people she comes to know as she and her family work on the fishing crew, and she shows the importance of the work they do and the place they love and preserve. She weaves the lore of a place, a family, and long-held fishing traditions into a study of cultural sustainability and what she calls “narrative stewardship.”