Neshama’s Choices for February 26th

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Trail of the Lost by Andrea Lankford  

Subtitled The Relentless Search to Bring Home the Missing Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail. Whew! Relentless it is, as the author-- once a park ranger, now a nurse-- pursues this quest for grieving families, which takes her into unforgiving terrain. Very determined helpers weigh in, including “squinters” who pour over endless drone photos scouring for any trace of evidence, but responses from police and park department investigators tend to run out of steam. Lankford gathers anecdotal reports from trail angels, dubbed because they provide ongoing support to thru-hikers, but these yield few clues. This is Investigative reporting with a vital emotional component, physical challenges, and depredations, and a sobering look at how treacherous the wilderness can be. 

Tremor by Teju Cole  

Tunde lives in New England and teaches photography. He came to the US from West Africa when he was 17 and has made a good life for himself. He has many interests and opinions on art, literature, history, and racism. We travel back to Lagos with him, which plunges us into street life, music, and the palimpsest of memory overlaid on current changes. Tunde’s mind and spirit are ever curious, reflective, and seeking perspective and insight. Sometimes, it seemed like a dizzying ride, but I appreciated the scope and specifics provided by Tunde’s company.  


Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue  

When Raine (her last name) was orphaned in India at 14, they shipped her off to the Manor School in York, a finishing school to prepare young women for marriage. They assign her to share a room with an eccentric newcomer, Lister (her last name). There’s an awkward adjustment period, but then, through Lister, Raine discovers a world of passion and rebellion that blows her assumptions. Lister leads Raine into escapades and more, culminating in a clandestine “marriage.” Then, predictably, it all falls apart. Lister must return to the farm, and Raine ends up in the mental institution close to the school’s grounds in 1805, when women had little agency. Harsh lessons, indeed. Intense and atmospheric.  


I Would Meet You Anywhere by Susan Kiyo Ito  

Susan was adopted by a Japanese American couple, but she doesn’t look like them. Her birth mother is Japanese, but her father (whose identity she never discovers) is white. Though her parents love her unconditionally, she still feels other and is determined to learn more about her family of origin. Records are sealed, but she manages to find her birth mother—hence the title. Their meetings are peculiar indeed. Her mother doesn’t want her current family to find out about her shameful past. The two develop a sporadic relationship, but her glamorous, chirpy mother remains emotionally unavailable.  As Ito tells her story, she lays out the challenges of transracial adoption and the complexities of identity. Candid and poignant.