From Catherine Given
Author: Howard Norman
Title: Next life might be kinder
Some books are easy – they give us free choice to dip into their pages — others hold us captive. This one’s hold was surprisingly fierce. In Next Life Might Be Kinder, Sam, a newly married writer/birdwatcher and Elizabeth, his gentle wife who is writing her dissertation, set up housekeeping in an apartment in an old Halifax hotel.
Howard recounts their dreamy, Zen-like existence, enlivened once a week by dance lessons, shattered to smithereens by Elizabeth’s murder. Norman depicts Sam’s devastation in a spell-binding, no-frills, stream-of-consciousness style.
Peter, an egomaniacal filmmaker, breaks through Sam’s numbing grief when he makes him an offer for the couple’s tragic story – one Sam feels he can’t refuse. Violation of Sam’s privacy and desecration of his memories of Elizabeth ensue, putting Sam’s ethics and his patience with Peter, to the test.
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: John Ramsey
The other side of suffering : the father of JonBenet Ramsey tells the story of his journey from grief to grace
John Ramsey has suffered more loss in his life than most could bear. You may know him as the father of the murdered child, JonBenet Ramsey. You may not know that he also lost his oldest daughter from his first marriage, Beth, in a car accident. He also lost JonBenet’s mother, Patsy, to cancer in 2006. He shares the real story of the aftermath of JonBenet’s murder and why he “lawyered up” quickly. He tells of the nightmare of living under suspicion by the Boulder, CO police and of the paparazzi chasing him, his son Burke, and his wife. He also found kindness in unlikely places, when strangers would approach him with comforting words. He also had a supporter in the detective Lou Smit, who posited the intruder theory, and later became friends with John.
This is a heartbreaking memoir as well as a spiritual biography. John regrets that he had practically no relationship with God when his life was going well. He went to India recently as part of his spiritual quest, which was life-changing. He shares the mistakes he has made: “Our ability to make good decisions is damaged after tragedy, because we are not thinking clearly. The best thing I could have done was to put my life in park for a while. I was eager to start climbing again and didn’t realize I hadn’t stopped the fall yet. Here are some suggestions for stopping the fall, the first being, and if you get no other point of advice from this book, please hear this one: After you have suffered a tragic circumstance in your life, press the pause button and put your life on hold. Do not make any big decisions or moves. Focus on stopping the fall first. Realize also that this ‘life hold’ will be necessary for longer than you think.”
A friend of John’s told him that “Hope is the belief that your best days lie ahead of you”. After grieving for 15 years, John finally has hope.
From Jackie Cantwell
Author: Chris Perez
To Selena, With Love
Chris wants you to know that he is more than “the widower of the Queen of Tejano music ,Selena Quintanilla Perez.” Chris was the guitarist for Selena’s band. This is a loving tribute to the Latin music superstar who was gunned down by her fan club president in 1995. Selena won Grammy awards and was poised to be a crossover artist in the same way as Gloria Estefan when she died. But her fans loved her not just because of her music. She gave so much of herself in each concert. She spent lots of time signing autographs after her concerts and made a special effort to reach out to her young fans and those who were sick or disadvantaged. She also adopted animals, including several dogs. Chris tells of her adventurous and daredevil side, where she learned how to ride a motorcycle, went bungee jumping, and loved to drive her cars fast. She also loved celebrating Christmas and the simpler things like cooking and cleaning the house. As a child of divorce, Chris never thought much of marriage. But Selena broke down his defenses and taught him how to love. She had the most exuberant spirit and loved to try new things. He says her laughter was contagious. Chris’s first love was rock and roll and heavy metal music, which he has returned to since Selena’s death. This book is a rare glimpse into the life of a multi-faceted performer.