Wow, we've got a lot of stuff going on this week!
Monday, September 19, 7 pm at Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center:
Ronald H. Balson, author of Karolina’s Twins
The Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center is located at 6255 Santa Monica Dr in Whitefish Bay. This event is co-sponsored by the JCC and by the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center.
Ronald H. Balson took readers by storm with his critically acclaimed debut, Once We Were Brothers, and entered into their hearts with an enthralling tale of love, survival, and ultimately, the triumph of the human spirit. Now, Balson is making his hardcover debut with Karolina’s Twins and returns to the popular themes and setting that made Once We Were Brothers a national bestseller.
Inspired by true events, Karolina’s Twins is the story of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise she made to a friend long ago – to return to Poland and find two sisters lost during the war. Lena Woodward enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and her private investigator husband, Liam Taggart, in order to complete the mission, harkening back to her harrowing past in Nazi-occupied Poland. She recounts her mysterious yet fearless bond shared with her childhood friend, Karolina, in their darkest hours. But there is something about the story that is unfinished, and Lena must now come to terms with a secret spanning several decades.
Ronald H. Balson is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator, and a writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues. He is also the author of Saving Sophie.
Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm reception 7:30 pm talk:
A ticketed event with Gayle Forman, author of Leave Me at the Lynden Sculpture Garden
The Lynden Sculpture Garden is located at 2145 W Brown Deer Rd. Tickets are $30 ($25 for Lynden members) and include admission to the event, light refreshments, a copy of Leave Me, and all taxes and fees.This event is cosponsored by Milwaukee Reads and the Lynden Sculpture Garden
Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A married working mother who is so busy taking care of her husband and twins she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.
Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.
Gayle Forman is a bestselling, award-winning author of young adult novels. Leave Me is her first novel for adults. Her novel If I Stay won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award and was a 2010 Indie Choice Honor Award winner. The film adaptation of If I Stay was released in 2014. Forman is also a journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Elle.
Tuesday, September 20, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Poppy and Geoff Spencer, co-authors of 1 Billion Seconds: A Fictional Memoir
Poppy and Geoff Spencer were college sweethearts who initially thought they were destined to spend their lives together—but immaturity and life got in the way. After college, neither of them had the courage, maturity, or communication skills to keep their relationship on solid ground. It took several marriages and life experiences between them to come together 32 years later and build a solid, healthy relationship.
Today, the Spencers work as relational coaches, providing practical, goal-oriented guidance to individuals, couples, and families at various levels in their relationship. The Spencers also work with healthy couples and individuals to develop strategies for their relational goals that are achievable and measurable. With the Myers-Briggs Certification, they also help people understand their personality styles and how those styles work together.
Poppy Spencer, after receiving her Master of Science degree in Art Therapy and working as a Registered Art Therapist for twelve years, she then transitioned her private Art Therapy practice into coaching. A parenting coach, a psychology professor at Ringling College of Art and Design for seven years, a certified Myers Briggs facilitator, and a Certified Professional Coach for nearly a decade, she continues to implement psychology into her coaching relationships. Geoff Spencer is a certified coach, having transitioned from a twenty-five-year career in sales and marketing of specialized technology deployed in higher education institutions. He is also a speaker, singer, and performer, having spoken in many professional venues, sung in churches and theaters, and performed in multiple community theater productions.
Wednesday, September 21, 4 pm, at Shorewood Public Library:
Lori Degman, author of Norbert’s Big Dream
The Shorewood Public Library is located at 3920 N Murray Ave, just south of Capitol Dr.
Norbert is a pig with a dream. It doesn't matter if the other farm animals snicker behind his back, Norbert has always dreamed of swimming the English Channel. He's been preparing and training, and finally, he's ready for the big swim! But where exactly is the English Channel?! Will Norbert have to give up on his dreams, or will his friends come to the rescue after all? A funny story about dreaming big.
Lori Degman grew up in a northern suburb of Chicago. She then attended MacMurray College for her Bachelor’s degree, followed by National-Louis University for her Masters. She is also the author of Cock-a-Doodle-Oops and 1 Zany Zoo. She loves writing rhyming poems, song parodies, and she can even juggle!
Wednesday, September 21, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Julie Tarney, author of My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass
When Julie Tarney’s only child, Harry, was two years old, he told her, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” It was 1992. The Internet was no help, because there was no Internet. And bookstores had no literature for a mom scrambling to raise such an unconventional child. Terms such as transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender creative were rare or nonexistent.
Lacking a positive role model of her own, and fearful of the negative stereotype of an overbearing Jewish mother, Tarney embarked on an unexpected parenting path as Harry grew up to be a confident, happy, nonconformist adult. Harry knew who he was all along. Despite some stumbles, Tarney learned that her job was simply to let her child be his authentic self.
Julie Tarney is a board member for the It Gets Better Project, blogs for the Huffington Post’s “Queer Voices” pages, and writes for TheParentsProject.com and the True Colors Fund. She volunteers for the PFLAG Safe Schools Program. A longtime resident of Shorewood, she now lives in New York City.
Thursday, September 22, 6:30 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall:
Sara Goldrick-Rab, author of Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream
This event is co-sponsored by Boswell. Centennial Hall is located at 733 N Eighth St. The event sponsor is Milwaukee Public Library and Wisconsin Hope Lab
If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right? Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for their education.
Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. However, America can fix this problem. Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program.
Sara Goldrick-Rab is coeditor of Reinventing Financial Aid: Charting a New Course to College Affordability and has written on education issues for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She founded the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, the nation’s first research laboratory aimed at making college affordable, and is a noted influence on the development of both federal and state higher education policies. Dr. Goldrick-Rab is professor of higher education Policy and Sociology at Temple University.
Thursday, September 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A talk and performance by Lil’ Rev, for the CD Claw and Hammer
Lil’ Rev grew up in Milwaukee, WI, where he still resides today. Growing up in the shadows of American Motors Corp, Briggs and Stratton, and A.O. Smith, he was inspired by the sights and sounds of an industrial powerhouse in flux. While Lil’ Rev is well known for his ukulele and harmonica stylings, he is also a seasoned multi-instrumentalist equally adept at old time banjo, flat-pick guitar, and blues mandolin.
Lil’ Rev is a Milwaukee-based songwriter, instrumentalist, storyteller, historian, educator, and interpreter of American roots music and culture. His fascination with all things ukulele and harmonica keep him busy teaching and performing all across North America. Lil’ Rev performs for schools, libraries, folk societies, festivals, music stores, concert series, house concerts, ukulele clubs, churches, temples, and just about any kind of wholesome venue you might conjure up.
Friday, September 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
A night of Chicago-area writers, featuring Gina Frangello, author of Every Kind of Wanting
and Christine Sneed, author of The Virginity of Famous Men
Every Kind of Wanting explores the complex intersection of three unique families and their bustling efforts to have a "Community Baby." Miguel could not be more different from his partner Chad, a happy-go-lucky real estate mogul from Chicago’s wealthy North Shore. When Chad’s sister, Gretchen, offers the couple an egg, their search for a surrogate leads them to Miguel’s old friend Emily, happily married to an eccentric Irish playwright, Nick, with whom she is raising two boys. Into this web falls Miguel's sister, Lina, a former addict and stripper, who begins a passionate affair with Nick while deciphering the mysteries of her past.
But every action these couples make has unforeseen consequences. As Lina faces her long-hidden demons, and the fragile friendships between Miguel and Chad and Nick and Emily begin to fray as the baby's birth draws near, a shocking turn of events—and the secret Lina's been hiding—threatens to break them apart forever.
The Virginity of Famous Men, award-winning story writer Christine Sneed’s deeply perceptive collection on the human condition, features protagonists attempting to make peace with the paths they have taken thus far. In “The Prettiest Girls,” a location scout for a Hollywood film studio falls in love with a young Mexican woman who is more in love with the idea of stardom than with the older American man who takes her with him back to California. “Clear Conscience” focuses on the themes of family loyalty, divorce, motherhood, and whether “doing the right thing” is, in fact, always the right thing to do. In “Beach Vacation,” a mother realizes that her popular and coddled teenaged son has become someone she has difficulty relating to, let alone loving with the same maternal fervor that once was second nature to her. The title story, "The Virginity of Famous Men," explores family and fortune.
Long intrigued by love and loneliness, Sneed leads readers through emotional landscapes both familiar and uncharted. These probing stories are explorations of the compassionate and passionate impulses that are inherent in—and often the source of—both abiding joy and serious distress in every human life.
Christine Sneed has published the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, and the story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry. She received the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, Ploughshare’s Zacharis Prize, the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Adult Fiction of 2013. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, New England Review, and elsewhere.
Gina Frangello is the author of the Target Emerging Authors selection, A Life in Men, which was also a book club selection. She is also the author of two other books of fiction: Slut Lullabies, a Foreword Magazine Best Book of the Year finalist, and My Sister's Continent. She is the founder of Other Voices Books, has served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, the fiction editor for The Nervous Breakdown, Executive Editor for Other Voices magazine, and the faculty editor for TriQuarterly Online.
And coming next week on Tuesday, September 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Christopher Hebert, author of Angels of Detroit, in conversation with UWM's Valerie Laken
Christopher Hebert’s new novel Angels of Detroit, delivers a kaleidoscopic of an iconic American city, of abandonment, hope, violence, and resilience—and the lives intersecting on Detroit’s margins. Once an example of American industrial might, Detroit has gone bankrupt, its streets dark, and its storefronts vacant. Miles of city blocks lie empty; saplings grow through the cracked foundations of abandoned buildings. Hebert takes an urban wasteland whose history is plagued with riots and unrest and reimagines it as an ambiguous frontier—a site of tenacity and possible hope. With razor-sharp, beguiling prose, we are drawn into the lives of multiple characters who are struggling to define their futures in this desolate landscape. Each of their desires are distinct, and their visions for a better city are on a collision course in this master plotted epic.
Multiple characters struggle to define their futures in this desolate landscape: a scrappy group of activists trying to save the city with placards and protests; a curious child who knows the blighted city as her own personal playground; an elderly great-grandmother eking out a community garden in an oil-soaked patch of dirt; a carpenter with an explosive idea of how to give the city a new start; a confused idealist who has stumbled into debt to a human trafficker; a weary corporate executive who believes she is doing right by the city she remembers at its prime.
Christopher Hebert is the author of the novel The Boiling Season, winner of the of the 2013 Friends of American Writers Award. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Five Chapters, Cimarron Review, and The Millions. Hebert is currently the Jack E. Reese Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee Libraries and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Valerie Laken is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Laken holds advanced degrees in Creative Writing and Slavic Languages and Literatures, from the University of Michigan.
What to Read Next — Winter 2017
2 days ago