Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster #ChasingTarzan @DizzCat @WomenonWriting

Publisher: Black Rose Writing
ISBN-10: 1684339402
ISBN-13: 978-1684339402
Print length: 163 pages

About the Book:

In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine’s life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help.

As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s façade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house. Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

About the Author:

Catherine Forster honed her powers of observation early on, and later applied them to artistic endeavors. Although it didn’t happen overnight, she discovered that seeing and hearing a bit more than the average person can be beneficial. As an artist, her work has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and abroad. Her experimental films have won accolades and awards in more than thirty international film festivals, from Sao Paulo to Berlin, Los Angeles to Rome, London to Romania. Through her work, she explores the dynamics of girlhood, notions of identity, and the role technology plays in our relationship with nature.

In her capacity as an independent curator, she founded LiveBox, an eight-year project that introduced new media arts to communities at a time when few new what media arts was. For the past four years she has been a member of the curatorial team for the Experiments In Cinema Film Festival held annually in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a Masters of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Masters of Business from the London Business School, and a fellowship in writing from the Vermont Studio Center. She is also included in the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

You can follow her on her website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

My Review:

TRIGGER WARNING: bullying, weight issues

I seem to have been finding a string of great memoirs recently, and so I was really happy and intrigued when I was contacted via my blog to review this. I was very intrigued by Catherine Forster’s author bio, and was so eager to start Chasing Tarzan.

It’s a great fast-paced memoir about life, travel and body issues. Catherine Forster is an amazing storyteller and I found this so relaxing to listen to as my iPad screenreader read it out.

There are challenges to deal with: Catherine’s dad is moved from place to place and they live in so many places. Catherine has to deal with relentless bullying at school from Hunter and at home from her brother, Steve. I identified with the school bullying although it was not because of my weight.

The writing is flawless and peppered with amazing detail. It’s so visual, from what she saw, felt, remembered and experienced, to the cookies she and her siblings made (my mouth was watering and I identified so much with the smell and taste of fresh baking as I loved to eat the dough, too).

I love the journey across 9 states and felt like I was there. The family relationships are really well documented and realistic and the chaos of this large family’s daily life is contagious.

The connection with Tarzan is very cleverly woven in to the story.

I was gripped by every word.

Chasing Tarzan is fully deserving of five stars, it’s an outstanding memoir with excellent attention to detail.

5 stars

Where to Buy:

Purchase a copy of Chasing Tarzan on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and You can also add this to your GoodReads reading list.

Somewhere Sisters by Erika Hayasaki @algonquinbooks @ErikaHayasaki

About the Book:

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 11th 2022 by Algonquin Books
ISBN 9781616209124

Identical twins Isabella and Hà were born in Vietnam and raised on opposite sides of the world, each knowing little about the other’s existence, until they were reunited as teenagers, against all odds.

The twins were born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in 1998, where their mother struggled to care for them. Hà was taken in by their biological aunt, and grew up in a rural village, going to school, and playing outside with the neighbors. They had sporadic electricity and frequent monsoons. Hà’s twin sister, Loan, spent time in an orphanage before a wealthy, white American family adopted her and renamed her Isabella. Isabella grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, with a nonbiological sister, Olivia, also adopted from Vietnam. Isabella and Olivia attended a predominantly white Catholic school, played soccer, and prepared for college.

But when Isabella’s adoptive mother learned of Isabella’s biological twin back in Vietnam, all of their lives changed forever. Award-winning journalist Erika Hayasaki spent years and hundreds of hours interviewing each of the birth and adoptive family members and tells the girls’ incredible story from their perspectives, challenging conceptions about adoption and what it means to give a child a good life. Hayasaki contextualizes the sisters’ experiences with the fascinating and often sinister history of twin studies, the nature versus nurture debate, and intercountry and transracial adoption, as well as the latest scholarship and conversation surrounding adoption today, especially among adoptees.

For readers of All You Can Ever Know and American Baby, Somewhere Sisters is a richly textured, moving story of sisterhood and coming-of-age, told through the remarkable lives of young women who have redefined the meaning of family for themselves.

About the Author:

Erika Hayasaki teaches in the Literary Journalism Program at the University of California, Irvine. She is a journalist interested in the intersections of identity, race, psychology, inequality, science, technology, history, and the human condition. Her stories appear in The New York Times Magazine, Wired, The Atlantic, Marie Claire, MIT Technology Review, Slate, The New Republic, The Guardian, Newsweek, Time, Glamour, Foreign Policy, and others. She is a former New York-based national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, where she spent nine years covering breaking news and writing feature stories.

Erika is the author of Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity and the Meaning of Family, (Algonquin Books, October 2022), and The Death Class: A True Story About Life (Simon & Schuster 2014).

She is a 2021-2022 Knight-Wallace Reporting Fellow researching intersections of Black and Asian American history, and a 2018 Alicia Patterson Fellow in science and environmental reporting. Her research, writing and teaching interests include: health and science narratives, feature writing, race and culture reporting, audio and multimedia storytelling.

She has won awards from the Association of Sunday Feature Editors, and the Society for Features Journalism, the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Her science writing has been featured in Longform’s Best of Science writing of 2016 and 2017, and notably selected in the Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019.

Praise for Somewhere Sisters:

“Well-researched and compassionately written, Somewhere Sisters is a journey from separations to reunions, from individual lives to the history of adoption. Urgent and compelling, this book asks important questions about responsibility and ethics and will inspire all of us as we work toward a more responsible and inclusive society.” –Nguy?n Phan Qu Mai, author of the international bestseller The Mountains Sing

“Erika Hayasaki has produced an elegant exploration of race and nationality. This intimate, meticulously reported portrait of an impoverished Vietnamese mother and her twin daughters, who were separated by adoption, is a not only a compelling story, but one that touches on profound questions of human identity.” –Barbara Demick, author of Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town and Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

“Fascinating and moving on its own, the sisters’ complex story of growing up, both together and apart, is complemented by Hayasaki’s illumination of the personal, psychological, and sociocultural realities of adoption.” –Booklist

My Review:

Happy release day to Somewhere Sisters!

When I heard the title of this novel, I really wanted to review it. The synopsis hooked me even more. I was a twin and a preemie, and every story about twins and/ or preemies interests me. 

The twins were born premature in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in 1998. The twins’ mother struggled to care for them. I was immediately concerned for Hà and Loan (Isabella). I wondered what their fate would be. 

They were both raised in different places on different continents, and that was intriguing. I kept praying that someday they’d be reunited. 

The prologue helps in giving background in this book and I liked how the author wrote the book. The depth of research into adoption and the attention to detail is astounding. There are some great visuals in here but also descriptions of very trying times. Short chapters help maintain the already excellent pacing of the novel. 

Erika Hayasaki is a new-to-me author and I definitely want to review more by her. 

I think everyone should have a copy of this book. I learned so much about Vietnamese and US culture of the time. 

Thanks to Erika Hayasaki and Algonquin Books for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars.

Where to Buy:

Cut: The True Story of an Abandoned, Abused Little Girl who was Desperate to be Part of a Family by Cathy Glass

The bestselling author of “Damaged” tells the story of sweet and seemingly well balance girl whose outward appearance masks a traumatic childhood of suffering at the hands of the very people who should have cared for her. I found this book really engaging. Just like the other books I’ve listened to by Cathy Glass (Saving Danny and A Baby’s Cry.)

The stories are told in a very readable way and this book was no exception. I really felt for Dawn as the horror of her post came out, and at all she had to endure at just 13 years old.

As always, I love the writing style Cathy has, as she tells the story of a child she fosters.

I listened to the e-book version of the book, and especially liked the included excerpt of The Saddest Girl in the World, the next book in the series.

Another thing I love about Cathy’s novels are the small updates she gives on the children she and her family foster the end of each novel.