Brooklyn : a novel

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Colm Toibin
Brooklyn : a novel
Eilis Lacey grew up in a small Irish town. Her father passed away a few years ago, her brothers immigrated to England and she lives with her mother, deep in the shadow of her charismatic sister Rose. She is attending bookkeeping classes at a local vocational school. She is more preoccupied with her studies than with her appearance.  At one of the dances she meets Jim Farrell, who is rude to her. She also learns a bitter lesson of human prejudice  while working in a local shop for cool and calculating Miss Kelly.

At this point, an offer to move to Brooklyn is presented to her and she agrees to embark on a journey to a foreign land.  She works and studies in Brooklyn while living in a boarding house.  Most unexpectedly, she falls in love with Tony, but devastating news from Ireland  brings her back home for a long visit, where she is faced with most difficult choices. 

This is a very quiet, but touching novel, full of interesting and believable characters. It targets dilemmas of human heart, common to all immigrants and people who moved away from their hometown.

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Governors Island : the jewel of New York Harbor

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Buttenwieser, Ann L.
Governors Island : the jewel of New York Harbor
 This is a beautifully illustrated and well annotated history of Governors Island. It’s almost hard to believe that this small, 92 acre island has such rich history.  For more than 200 years the island was used as a military facility by British and American forces, utilizing its strategic location, but now it can be visited and enjoyed by the public. The book is worth glancing through before the visit to the Governors Island.

Jaffa

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Yedaya, Keren
 Jaffa [videorecording]
This is a compelling drama about a young Jewish woman, Mali Wolf. Her father owns an auto repair shop in the heart of Jaffa. Mali and Toufik, a Palestinian mechanic, have been in love for years and now she is pregnant. As they plan their future together, an unexpected tragic incident changes
their lives. Mali is making tough choices as she is forced to deal with her unhappy family life and her uncertain future. This movie received mixed reviews, but I happen to like it. Mali’s strong character and the ultimate outcome made this story memorable and I would recommend it.

Welcome

From Alicja Feitzinger
titl: Welcome [videorecording]
Welcome is a story about Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) and Simon (Vincent Lindon).  Bilal is a 17-year-old Kurdish refugee. He spent the last three months of his life traveling across Europe in an attempt to reunite with his girlfriend who recently emigrated to England. Simon (Vincent Lindon), a middle-aged swimming instructor, is dealing with a divorce from his wife (Audrey Dana).  They meet at a local swimming pool at Calais, France. Simon works there and eventually trains Bilal, so he can attempt to swim across the English Channel and find his girlfriend. Both men have a lot in common, despite their differences.  They develop a strong bond, which will ultimately alter their lives.  This movie left me with a strong impression and a lot to think about. I highly recommend it.

On Celtic tides : one man’s journey around Ireland by sea kayak

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Duff, Chris
On Celtic tides : one man’s journey around Ireland by sea kayak
Chris Duff describes his solo circumnavigation of Ireland by sea kayak in the summer of 1996. Beginning and ending in Dublin, Duff paddled  1,200 miles over the course of three months. His descriptions of many dangerous crossings and beautiful but harsh and dangerous sea and not always hospitable shoreline are vivid and passionate. His daily hardships, rewards and encounters are interesting for anyone who likes to  spend time on the water and who is interested in Irish culture and history.

The Berlin Wall : a world divided, 1961-1989

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Taylor, Frederick
The Berlin Wall : a world divided, 1961-1989 
This story of a wall which divided Berlin between East and West for 28 years is fascinating and deeply affecting.  Frederick Taylor gives a thorough historical background not only of Berlin, but Germany and the Eastern Block. He also uses personal narratives to illustrate how politics disturbed, devastated and in many cases destroyed lives of millions of people locked behind the Iron Curtain. Especially touching are stories of people who swam, jumped, and dug for freedom.

The book is well written and it’s easy to read despite the wealth of information it contains.

On the water : discovering America in a rowboat

From Alicja Feitzinger
author: Stone, Nathaniel
On the water : discovering America in a rowboat
Nathaniel Stone completed his 6,000-mile, 10 months-long adventure in 17-foot scull. He began his journey in Brooklyn, traveled up the Hudson, passed through the Erie Canal, portaged his craft to the Allegheny, and then headed on to the Ohio and down the Mississippi. At New Orleans, he took a break, got a larger boat, and continued rowing around Key West, along the coastline of the Atlantic to Maine.  The account of his journey is captivating.  His observations of places he visits and people he meets are interesting and insightful.
If you like to follow real life rowing or kayaking adventures, you might also enjoy reading Jake Stachovak’s blog  http://www.portagetoportage.com/ who is traveling in his kayak along a similar route and visiting New York and Long Island in early June 2010.