Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hope Meadows by Wes Smith

book cover

Hope Meadows:
Real-Life Stories of Healing and Caring from an Inspiring Community
by Wes Smith

ISBN-13: 9780425178409
Hardcover: 210 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: April 28th 2001

Source: From my grandmother's personal library.

Book Description from Book Cover (modified):
With its tree-shaded streets, Hope Meadows looks like any suburban neighborhood where children of all colors ride bicycles, and where an equally diverse mix of adults sit sentry in lawn chairs. Not visible are the tormented histories haunting the children at play, or what brought them to this little village of big miracles and opportunity to finally understand the joys of a normal childhood.

Built on an abandoned Illinois Air Force base, Hope Meadows is the brainchild of sociologist Brenda Eheart, who envisioned the community as a solution to the problem of revolving-door foster care. Here are children who are considered "unadoptable" by the foster system--often because of behavioral problems--are given the chance to thrive in permanent homes.

At Hope Meadows, seniors find a renewed sense of purpose as foster grandparents. At Hope Meadows, the meaning of community is rediscovered and redefined as a network of caring relationships built upon a shared mission: piecing shattered childhoods back together again. With stirring photographs an inspirational stories of emotional and spiritual healing, this book is a tribute to a town built from the heart up.

My Review:
Hope Meadows is a compilation of biographies about the residents of Hope Meadows. The author explained how the whole idea started (the biography of the founder) and then did the biographies of various families living there--the foster parents, children and grandparents. We learn what the adult's lives were like before Hope Meadows, what brought them there, and about the children in their care.

There were brown-and-white pictures of the various people in the book. The stories were interesting, and, overall, I'd recommend this book to those interested in the foster care system, troubled kids, or stories of adoption.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Buggies, Blizzards, and Babies by Cora Frear Hawkins

book cover

Buggies, Blizzards, and Babies
by Cora Frear Hawkins

ISBN: 0-8138-0395-0
Hardback: 220 pages
Publisher: Iowa State University Press
Released: 1971

Source: From library book sale.

Book Description from Book Cover:
Fresh out of medical school at the State University of Iowa, the young and dedicated Dr. Edwin D. Frear set out in 1882 to brave the hardships, struggles, and challenges that characterized the life and practice of the country doctor. His practice took him first to Salix and then to Sloan, two small towns set in the wide-open prairie of northwest Iowa. In later years he taught at the medical college and practiced in Sioux City.

As a child the author often accompanied her father on his medical calls; as she grew older she was able to assist him in his office. This book is largely an account of her recollections of him and his work, with additional material obtained from his diary and other personal and general sources. While some details have been changed, every incident described is based on an actual experience of the doctor or his family.

Capturing a bit of old Americana, Cora Frear Hawkins takes the reader back to the turn of the century - to the favorite old horse and buggy and the first automobiles and rural telephones. Through prairie blizzards and floods, in quarantines and the lighthearted antics of the doctor's children, you will delight in the adventures of a pioneer doctor's life.

My Review:
Buggies, Blizzards, and Babies is a memoir about a doctor (as told by his daughter) who lived in a small town in Iowa around 1900 AD. She tells stories of how things were done and what life (and country doctoring) was like. It's like the "Little House on the Prairie" series, but, while the stories are entertaining, it's more what adults would find funny rather than kids. A different, small black-and-white photo of the family was at the start each chapter. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Sue Frear, dozing in a rocker by the kitchen stove, was aroused by the sound of the wind whistling around the chimney. She drew her grey shawl more closely about her shoulders and went to the window. Cupping her hands, she shaded her eyes against the reflection of lamplight on the glass, but try as she might she could see no light other than her own in the little Iowa village.

It was late. She looked hopefully for some sign that the snowstorm was subsiding, but it seemed rather to be increasing in fury as the wind whirled clouds of fine snowflakes past the house and down the dark street. She strained to see further, but she could see only her own shadow quivering in the patch of light on the shifting snow and the dim outline of the house across the street where the drifts were piling halfway to the eaves.

But Sue's thoughts were less on her neighbors in the town than on a farmhouse ten miles away, nestled in the edge of the hills, where a young mother fought for her life and that of her unborn child. And somewhere on the bleak prairie that lay between, its once lush grasses now buried under a heavy white blanket, Sue's doctor husband, Edwin, battled the stinging cold and wind in the darkness, trying to reach the young wife before it was too late.