Thursday, November 11, 2010

Uplifting memoir & sad news for book lovers

The older I get the more aware I become of just how fragile life is and how blessed I have been in mine.
My choice of reading materials usually confirms this belief.
Marianne Leone's memoir of her son's all-too-brief life "Knowing Jesse" is much more than a mother's tale of a personal tragedy.
It is a powerful depiction of the ties that bind, of the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity and of the power that one voice can have.
Leone's name may be familiar to fans of "The Sopranos." She played Christopher's mother on the HBO series and has been in a number of films.
In "Knowing Jesse" she allows us to meet the son who died suddenly at 17 after a lifetime of struggles with seizures, the inability to speak or move and severe cerebral palsy. We meet him moments after his premature birth and are with the family as they cope with a maze of medical bureaucracy and other unimaginable challenges.
His death was determined to be "sudden unexplained death in epilepsy," but Leone finds that so baffling she suggests "fickle finger of fate."
Much of Jesse's life could be ascribed to that. That fickle finger of fate that has one child born free of complications and another battling for years. How lucky I have been in this regard.
I cannot imagine the struggles of parenting a child facing the kind of issues Jesse faced. The struggles of raising healthy children have me confused enough.
But what is clear from Leone's memoir is that this child enriched her life in ways she hadn't dreamed, that this child evoked a depth of love that she was unaware existed, that this child made his mark on the world and made his parents prouder that they imagined they could be. In that sense her parenting experience is the universal one.

I've got some sad news for area book lovers. Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Legacy Village has announced that it will be closing. “We have definitely had our struggles in the Cleveland market,” said Neil Van Uum the owner of
The Joseph-Beth Group in a statement. “Having grown up in Cleveland I still feel as if this is my home. It breaks my heart to have to close the Legacy Village store. We love our presence at the Cleveland Clinic
and I hope to regroup and possibly establish a position in the bookselling marketplace again in Cleveland someday,” he added.
The last author signing event appears to be the Adam Richman event at 7 p.m. Nov. 16.

- Tricia Ambrose

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