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Washington Reads (Spring 2007) - Hidden People

Most of us go about our daily lives without thinking of the “hidden people,” those who are challenged by such extraordinary circumstances as mental illness, incarceration, alcohol and drug addiction, cerebral palsy, and other disabling conditions. Our society tends to put these people out-of-sight, to be silent about their circumstances; out-of-sight is indeed out-of-mind. Yet many of us are touched by these hidden people, in our families, our neighborhood, our communities and our society. The spring 2007 Washington Reads features some unusual books that bring light and exposure to what is so often invisible. These books put people and personalities to the labels that they have been given and bring to life the hidden people.

Blackburn, Wendy. Beachglass.

Blackburn, a chemical dependency counselor in Seattle, writes an astonishing debut novel that weaves a compelling story around Delia's addiction and recovery. Delia's dedication to Timothy, a true friend since their struggle to be clean, takes her to his bedside as he dies from AIDS. Beachglass is a must-read journey through a person's story of alcoholism and addiction.

Brown, Judith Reynolds. A Glove on My Heart: Encounters with the Mentally Ill.

The author, Judith Reynolds Brown, volunteered at a residence in Seattle for the mentally ill and formed relationships that bring hope and humor to her experiences. The book includes narratives about each patient, as well as poems Brown wrote about her encounters. Her warmth and understanding combine with compassion and respect for the residents as they struggle with their illnesses.

Fowler, Karen Joy. Sarah Canary.

In 1873 in the Washington Territory, a mysterious woman attracts an entourage: Chin Ah Kin, who thinks she might be a ghost lover; B.J., who helps them escape from the insane asylum; Harold, who covets the woman for a freak show; and Adelaide, a suffragette. This is a quirky, mystical, historical and humorous mystery.

Gordon, Robert Ellis and Inmates of the Washington Corrections System. The Funhouse Mirror: Reflections on Prison.

This is a brutally honest and explicit book about Washington's prisons and inmates, authored by a writing teacher within the correctional system. The book paints a revealing portrait of those who are incarcerated. It also includes short stories written by the inmates.

Olsen, Gregg. Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest.

In 1911 in Olalla, Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard, with no medical training, opened a sanitarium where she practiced her fasting cure. Patients starved and many died, but others continued to sign up for the cure. This true-life crime will grip the reader.

Walker, Jan. Dancing to the Concertina's Tune: A Prison Teacher's Memoir.

The author shares her experiences as a correctional teacher of family and parenting courses. In the process she shares the true stories of inmates, both male and female, trying to survive behind bars and to reconnect with their families.

Young Adult
Trueman, Terry. Stuck in Neutral.

Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel has no control of his body or its functions, as he has cerebral palsy. He has a remarkable memory, mature insight and humor, but no one knows that. He loves life, and panics when he believes his father wants to kill him to end, what his father sees as suffering and pain. Grades 5 – 10.

Walker, Jan. An Inmate's Daughter.

The compassionate story of Jenna, an inmate's daughter, gives us insight into the challenges of families with a loved one in prison. It reminds all of us that the viewpoint of a child can teach us much about acceptance and tolerance.