Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Message from My Orange Duffel Bag Author Sam Bracken

Abandoned at age 15, Sam Bracken battled homelessness, poverty, and abuse to successfully earn a full-ride football scholarship to the Georgia Institute of Technology. When he left for college, everything he owned fit in an orange duffel bag. Now, in this illustrated memoir and road map to personal transformation, Sam shares his story as well as everything he’s learned about overcoming the odds.

When I was 13-years-old and in eighth grade, a caring teacher discovered that I needed glasses. Up until that point, I’d always been in special education classes. I grew up in Las Vegas in a family that was like a whacked out version of The Brady Bunch on an episode of Cops. I suffered every kind of abuse imaginable and started drinking and doing drugs at age 9. Mobsters and motorcycle gang members were my role models. As an eighth grader I decided I didn’t want to be like my family. I stopped drinking and doing drugs and with encouragement from my teachers and lots of hard work, I went from a C and F student in special education to a straight A student. My mother suffered a mental breakdown when I was 15 and abandoned me. I kept my homelessness secret Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essay, FYE Speakers Series, Giveaways, One to Watch - New books on the rise!

Kristen Iversen on Writing Full Body Burden

Full Body Burden is a work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated “the most contaminated site in America.” It’s the story of growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and—unknown to those who lived there—tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium. Author Kristen Iversen shares with us her thoughts while writing Full Body Burden:

Rocky Flats was the great monolith of my childhood. Everyone in my neighborhood knew of Rocky Flats and was fearful of it—and fascinated by it—but no one knew what really went on there. Some thought it manufactured cleaning supplies. For decades, Rocky Flats had been releasing toxic and radioactive elements into the air, water, and soil, but it had all been covered up. The government, Dow Chemical, and later Rockwell International, one of the nation’s largest industrial corporations, assured us that Rocky Flats was safe, despite constant and ongoing leaks and fires. There was a lot of cancer and illness in my neighborhood, and we all wondered if it was related to Rocky Flats. But no one talked openly Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essay, Giveaways, Hear it from them!, One to Watch - New books on the rise!

More Good News for Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey!

Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey is one of three finalists for the 2012 One Book, One Denver program.  The winner will be chosen by popular vote before June 22. Even more good news, Enrique’s Journey has also been selected as the First-Year Experience title for both Cabrini College in Philadelphia and University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. All incoming freshmen at both colleges will be reading this book for the Fall of 2012.

More than 50 colleges and seven cities have chosen Enrique’s Journey for their common or one city reads. Many colleges select the book because it goes beyond a platform to talk about immigration. While encouraging global awareness, the book provides broad and deep discussions of large themes students grapple with: loss and hope, survival, community, family, diversity, and redemption. Students relate to a boy close to their own age who steels himself with great determination to get through difficult circumstances.

For a full list of schools that have adopted Enrique’s Journey, and related teaching guides and videos, visit Sonia Nazario’s website.


Order an Exam Copy

More About the Book

Other Posts Featuring Enrique’s Journey

Leave a comment

Filed under In the News, One Book, One Book One Community Adoptions, This just in! - New Adoptions, Top Adoptions

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya on Writing His Novel The Watch

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya’s new novel, The Watch, takes a timeless tragedy and brings it into present-day Afghanistan. Taking its cues from the Antigone myth, Roy-Bhattacharya recreates the chaos, intensity, and immediacy of battle, and conveys the inevitable repercussions felt by the soldiers, their families, and by one sister. This books takes students through the reality of this very contemporary conflict, and both the nature and futility of war.  Read what the author has to say about his new novel:

The decade-long war in Afghanistan is America’s longest war, Britain’s most expensive war since World War II, and NATO’s first major war outside Europe.

In terms of casualties, the U.S. and U.K. apart, the Afghan theater has seen Canada’s highest combat casualties since the Korean War; Australia’s highest combat casualties since Vietnam; France’s highest combat casualties since Algeria; the highest combat casualties for Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden since World War II; the highest combat casualties for the Netherlands since the Dutch withdrew from Indonesia in 1949; the highest combat fatalities for Spain since the Ifni War in Morocco in 1958; and the highest combat casualties for Poland in a foreign war since World War II. As for Afghan civilian and military casualties, we have no definite numbers.

When I set out to write The Watch, I wanted to give voice to the statistics, especially those counted as collateral damage Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Author Essay, Giveaways, One to Watch - New books on the rise!

NYU Selects Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife as Freshman Dialogue Novel

New York University’s College of Arts & Science has announced The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht as their Freshman Dialogue novel selection. The Freshman Dialogue at NYU is an exciting, unique way to connect students with faculty members before classes begin, to unify the class around a common activity and theme, and to introduce students to the rich intellectual and cultural life of the College, the University, and New York City. In her welcoming letter to the Class of 2016, Acting Dean G. Gabrielle Starr writes:

“The next four years will, I trust, be wonderful ones for you; the excitement and discovery begin with your selection of courses, your orientation, and your engagement with the amazing novel that kicks off our first year together, Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife.”

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under This just in! - New Adoptions