Aug 09 2019

What We're Into This August

Welcome back to our monthly series of things we're into, an update on everything CASA staff is buzzing about! We’re here as Certified Professional Enthusiasts to keep the series going with some ~super~ recommendations on movies, articles, and everything else in recent memory that pertains to our advocacy at CASA.

In honor of National Book Lovers Day and the passing of the esteemed Nobel prize-winning author Toni Morrison, allow us to remind you of your love of books. Here are our August recommendations focused on what CASA staff and volunteers have been reading!

If you're on the hunt for a good read, check out:

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

“One week before the passing of esteemed author Toni Morrison, I finished her novel Song of Solomon for the third time. Written after the passing of her father, this book was her first attempt at writing a book with a male protagonist. Harnessing the lessons learned from her father during his life, and her feelings after his death, she creates a riveting tale about a young man who must grow out of his comfort zone once he learns about his family’s history. Mainly set in Michigan from the 1920s to the 1950s, Song of Solomon explores race, class, and how events prior to the birth of a child can create family dynamics that can be harmful to the child after birth. These three themes also play a role in the work of CASA and CASA volunteers. Understanding how race, class, and family history can contribute to current family dynamics and living situations allow CASA and volunteers to advocate for children to the best of their abilities.” – Michael Webber, Program Assistant

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

“This novel centers around a family going on a road trip from New York to the southern U.S. border as the mother and father, both archivists/documentarians, aim to document the crisis of undocumented immigrant children flooding the border. I think a critic raised the question that perfectly describes the focus of this book by asking, “If children are our future, what lies ahead for a country that fails them?” The two children at the center of this novel, who experience the effects of this phenomenon through the lens of their parents’ work, offer some of the clearest observations on this unfortunate reality of fractured families while also being torn by the gradual fracturing of their own family unit. This pertains to our work at CASA in so many ways- by touching on how the way our country treats its most vulnerable, how children perceive more than they are given credit for, and how sometimes the simplest solution is just to offer compassion. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and I look forward to more to come from Luiselli, a native of Mexico and a resounding literary voice who is needed now more than ever.” - Brooke Hathaway, Advocacy Program Manager

Lost Connections: Why You're Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari

“I’m currently reading Lost Connections by Johann Hari. I’m not done yet, but LOVE it so far. It’s about reframing how we think about depression and anxiety to be more holistic and less focused on medicating.” - Laura Honsig, Child Advocacy Specialist

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

“Melinda shows how important it is to be a powerful voice for children through her dedicated work for the safety of girls and women on a global scale.” - Lauren O’Grady, Child Advocacy Specialist

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 

Where the Crawdads Sing is a remarkable book about a little girl’s journey through abandonment, abuse, and eventual isolation in the marshlands of the North Carolina coast. The story centers around her childhood of trauma leading into her adulthood, where she purposefully withdraws from society in order to protect herself from further harm. When a town local dies mysteriously in the marsh that Kya lives in, all eyes go to her as the main suspect. There’s an underlying murder mystery throughout the end of the novel, but the book still focuses its attention on Kya’s experiences and her resiliency in the face of tremendous loss. It’s a great read for CASA volunteers looking to understand abuse, neglect, and abandonment from a child’s perspective. It’s was gripping from start to finish—I couldn’t put it down!!” - Meredith Chambers, Child Advocacy Specialist

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

“I just finished A Woman is No Man and it was great! It is written by an Arab-American woman, Etaf Rum, and tells the story of 3 generations of Arab women and their struggles with a woman’s place in the world. For the younger generation is also tells of the struggle with assimilation into American society.” - Wendy Morse, Training Specialist

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

“This book is a memoir written by a woman who was raised in an abusive household. It has helped me understand the difficulties a young person faces when they grow to understand they were abused and family members were complicit.” - Mary Friedman, CASA volunteer

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility explores racism, implicit bias and how white people’s assumptions about race need to be challenged in order for racism to be truly challenged. It discusses why white people are uncomfortable talking about race and why the conversations need to happen.” - Wendy Morse, Training Specialist

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X is a coming of age story about a teenaged Dominican girl struggling to cope with religion, family values, sexuality, cultural disconnect, and gender bias. She feels powerless against these forces but finds her strength and her voice after she gets joins a poetry club at school and prepares to compete in a poetry slam. The entire book is written in poetic verse. I love it and the kids I’ve bought it for have given great reviews!” - Lakinia Ramsey, Child Advocacy Specialist

She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

She Would Be King is a fictional novel set around the forming of the nation of Liberia and its founding as a colony for former African American slaves. Wayétu Moore brings magical realism into her story by gifting her 3 main characters with unique superpowers and giving the spirit of the wind a voice in the story, which makes this epic novel even more engaging. For CASA, not only does this novel touch on culture and the historical injustice of slavery that continues today, it also focuses on how important your home and your people are, even if you’ve been hurt by them. It’s the main character Gbessa’s lasting connection to and care for a village of people that shunned her that moves this story forward. At CASA, we know that no matter what a child has been through in their home or with their family, that connection and those people are almost always still important to them, and often where they would want to be. Working to help families heal and reunify, or maintain connections, is vital in our everyday advocacy for children.” - Callie Langford, Director of Communications

The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect, and The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

"I absolutely loved reading The Rosie Project trilogy, which follows Don Tillman through several stages of his adulthood—discovering he would like to one day get married, falling in love, moving to a new city, raising a child, pivoting his career, and much more. The series is narrated by Don, who is on the autism spectrum, and allows readers to view the world and Don’s changing life from his perspective. Author Graeme Simsion writes Don’s story in a way that allows readers to gain insight on the different challenges Don faces, many due to living in a world catered to neurotypicals, but that also celebrates the unique traits and perspective that every character brings to the story." - Victoria Young, Senior Development Manager


2019 CASA Recommends August

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