The Human Spirit

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The Human Spirit

I am drawn to people's personal stories of triumph over adversity. I think often about the imagery and symbolism of the lotus plant. The lotus shoot has to grow through the mud of swamps and other still bodies of water. The unseen shoot struggles upward towards the light and when it pierces the surface, a beautiful flower unfurls. What these stories have in common is they explore the resiliency of human peoples despite the misfortunes that can happen in any person's life.

Crushing by T.D. Jakes
Pressure busts pipes but it also can create diamonds. There is something in the human spirit that can turn trial to triumph when we understand the process our growth and trust the journey. T.D. Jakes masterfully explains how we can learn from the experiences in life that crush us and rise above them into success and fulfillment.
 
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Life, it seems, is not fair and bad things happen to good people and there’s really nothing you can do about it. And the disappointment of feeling like “why me” can be crushing. This novel starts with an unravelling “American Dream” for a middle-class family. It ultimately explores a range of social themes including the changing economy, materialism, middle-class disenfranchisement, the difficult health care system, immigration and more.
 
She would be king by Wayétu Moore
This novel of magic-realism plunges you into the birth of the country of Liberia, the people, cultures and myth that begot that nation. We walk through the stories of different individuals. There is Gbessa, a girl shunned as a witch in her ethnic group, the Vai, comes to terms with her immortality and becomes a legendary heroine. Another character, June Dey, like a Hercules of sorts, has supernatural origins and becomes a metaphor for the journey of former slaves who left the American South to settle the newly created town of Monrovia in Liberia. Like lotus flowers that emerge from mud to create a canvass of wild beauty, the story of a nation emerges from a painful and dark past.

Small country by Gael Faye
The story begins with 10-year-old Gabriel, a mixed race boy in Burundi, before the civil war and genocide that ravaged his home country and neighboring Rwanda. Gabriel was jolted in what seems like an instant from his carefree, idyllic and familiar childhood due to the war. He immigrated with his mother to the suburbs of Paris, France. His struggle to adapt, right at the moment of adolescence is profound and moving.
 
Enrique's journey by Sonia Nazario
This is a timeless story that resonates in particular in the present social climate in the United States. The story follows Enrique whose mother immigrated to the US when he was only five years old. They were poor, and she desperately sought an opportunity to improve their lives. Enrique stayed behind in Honduras with relatives. She struggled in America and couldn’t keep the promise of quickly returning to be reunited with her son. So, at age eleven Enrique set off on a journey to find his mother. He traveled alone with hardly anything but with little slip of paper with his mother's North Carolina telephone number. He made the perilous journey through Mexico, clinging onto the side and top of trains. Thousands of children like Enrique make this dreadful journey each year to try and reunite with their mothers in the United States.