Archive for the 'Biography' Category

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

distance

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

Reyna Grande was born in Mexico and when she was very young her father left for the U.S. in the hopes of making his dreams come true and providing a better life for his family.  A few years later, he sent for their mother and Reyna and her siblings were heartbroken to be left behind.  Over the years they endured neglect and abuse at the hands of family.  Eventually, their father returned and agreed to sneak them across the border.  Reyna was only in 5th grade at this time and had a tough time keeping up, but they were able to get across and begin school.  By now her parents had split up and she was living with the father she hardly knew and his new woman.  Life was still not perfect as she struggled to make her father proud and nothing she did ever seemed to bring any reaction except harsh criticism or beatings.  Will she ever manage to achieve her goal of going to college and becoming a writer or are there too many environmental roadblocks in her way?

This true story is very powerful and accurate depicting the lives of many immigrants to the U.S.  and their families who are often separated for years at a time while they are trying to immigrate.  The description of life in Mexico also helps readers understand why so many people were immigrating to the U. S. and leaving families behind.  There are many disappointments for Reyna and her siblings, but she never loses hope and never lets go of her dreams.

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Running For My Life by Lopez Lomong

running for my life

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  229

RAC:   Yes

This is the true story of Lopez Lomong and how he was kidnapped from church as a six-year-old and taken to be a child soldier.  He later escaped and was taken to a refugee camp where he lived for ten years.  When he was finally taken to the United States, it was through a program in which a number of “lost boys” were brought to the U.S.  He was taken in by a loving family who introduced him to the modern conveniences of life such as light switches and beds.  Ever since watching Michael Johnson race in the Olympics Lopez has hoped to achieve this goal someday.  Will he have what it takes to make his dream come true?  Will he be able to adjust to life in the U.S.?

This powerful story truly captures the plight of these “lost boys” from Sudan.  Many were forced to be child soldiers and were treated terribly in the process.  Even the ones like Lopez who managed to escape had difficult lives and very little education.  Lopez outlines how family, support, education, and faith helped him to become the man he is today and now he’s dedicated his life to helping others out of the same situation.  Recommended for reluctant readers and runners.

Iron Heart by Brian Boyle

Genre:  Sports Autobiography

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2011 Iowa High School Award Winner

This remarkable true story follows Brian Boyle’s recovery from a horrendous car accident he was in when he was eighteen.  He was preparing to go to college on a swim scholarship and instead spent two months fighting for his life.  He had multiple surgeries and countless hardships ahead of him, but he made the choice that he wanted to fight for his life.  His parents were there to support him every step of the way as he slowly worked toward the same goals he had made prior to the accident.

This story is told in Brian’s words so the writing is not very technical or complex, but his words are very powerful.  Most teens will be able to relate to his feelings of helplessness as his dreams and aspirations after high school slip away.  They will also be able to identify with his perseverance and will to fight when no one thought he could.  The story is uplifting and heartwarming and will interest most teen readers, but especially readers who like reading about athletes.  Reading this story will give teenagers a lot to think about regarding their own futures and the choices they plan to make, but also the present and how they want to live for today.