Past Common Reads
When Ebrahim was seven his father shot and killed the founder of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane. From behind bars, his father El-Sayyid Nosair co-masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. He now dedicates his life to speaking out against terrorism and spreading his message of peace and nonviolence.
Ebrahim traces his remarkable journey to escape his father’s legacy. Crisscrossing the eastern United States from Pittsburgh to Memphis, from a mosque in Jersey City to the Busch Gardens theme park in Tampa, The Terrorist’s Son is the story of a boy taught dogma and hate – and the man who chose a different path.
Zak says of his father’s incarceration, “The fact that my father went to prison for an unfathomable crime when I was seven just about ruined my life. But it also made my life possible.”
In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.
And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn’t pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!
But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan.
Joshua Davis’s Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.
“A lovely novel about the search for family that also happens to illuminate a fascinating and forgotten chapter of America’s history. Beautiful.”—Ann Packer
Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude?
As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past.
Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past.
Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, and unexpected friendship.
Doc Hendley never set out to be a hero. A small-town bartender, Doc loved his Harley, music, and booze. Then he learned about the world’s water crisis, and decided to help by hosting fundraisers. But he wanted to do more and soon found himself traveling to one of the world’s most dangerous hot spots: Darfur, Sudan.
Doc was immediately cast into a crisis zone. The Sudanese government was wiping out entire villages through horrific state-sponsored genocide—and one of the chief weapons was water. By dumping corpses in water sources and shooting up water bladders, Janjaweed terrorists doomed hundreds of thousands of citizens to dehydration, disease, and death.
At just twenty-five years old, Doc was inexperienced, untrained, and in constant danger—but he stepped up to save lives. Alternatively begging international organizations for funding and dodging trigger-happy Janjaweed, Doc began drilling and repairing wells, bringing drinking water to those who desperately needed it. Wine to Water is his story about braving tribal warfare in far-flung regions of the world, and an inspirational tale of how one ordinary person can make a difference.