Monday, January 21, 2013

Boswell Events--Kate Jurgens and Barbara Miner at Boswell, Plus Jennifer Chiaverini at the Racine Public Library.

Tuesday, January 22, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Kate Jurgens, author of Mo: A Loeys Dietz Memoir.

Maureen “Mo” Jurgens was born in 1995 with a rare disease as yet undiagnosed at that time. Mo’s mother, Kate, a neonatal intensive care nurse, recognized the signs of birth defects right from the start: turned feet, closed fists, and a cleft palate. It wouldn’t be until over nine years and seventeen surgeries later that a key discovery would lead to the diagnosis of Loeys Dietz Syndrome, a rare connective tissue disease that allows aneurysms to grow throughout the entire body as well as wreak havoc on the joints and soft tissue.

Kate’s journey became one of discovering how to mother a child with special needs while also raising three other children, expand her nursing knowledge, strengthen her own marriage, and deepen her Catholic faith. Compiled mostly from Kate’s journal entries over the course of Mo’s first thirteen years, Mo: A Loeys Dietz Syndrome Memoir is both a medical mystery and story of triumphant spirits.

You probably want to know more about Loeys Dietz syndrome. Who is Loeys Dietz? Does it describe the illness or is it a person?

It is actually two people, Bart Loeys and Hal Dietz. They were the first observers and describers of this disorder, while at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. More on this website for the foundation. And here's more from the department at Johns Hopkins.

Mo's Mom, Kate H. Jurgens, graduated from Marquette University, and is a prenatal care coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Come join her at Boswell for this talk on Tuesday at 7 pm.

Thursday, January 24, 6:30 pm, at the Racine Public Library, 75 Seventh Street, 53403:
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.

This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Racine Public Library. Reservations are highly recommended, as this event is limited to 200 people. Call (262) 636-9217.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Elizabeth "Lizzie" Keckley, a former slave, from among a number of applicants to be her personal "modiste." Keckley would be responsible not only for creating the First Lady's gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln. The relationship between the two women evolved into something more intimate, as Keckley was drawn closely into the life of the Lincoln family, offering close support to Mary Todd Lincoln through the loss of her son, and then her husband.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley's memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley's story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style. 

As Jim Higgins notes in Sunday's profile in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "While Keckley's relationship with Mrs. Lincoln is central to the novel, it wasn't her entire life. Chiaverini also portrays Keckley as part of the free black community in Washington, giving readers a feel for both the joys and fears of people living in the capital of the Union but so close to the Confederacy. As a free black man, Keckley's son, George, wasn't allowed to join the Union army, but he was light-skinned enough to pass for white, so he enlisted anyway, to his mother's anxiety."

Our friends at Patched Works will be there with Jennifer Chiaverini's branded fabrics. And the Friends promise me that the space will remain open until every last person can get their book signed. This is Chiaverini's only event east of Madison for this book, so we're expecting a big crowd.

Friday, January 25, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Barbara Miner, author of Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City.

This event is co-sponsored by Rethinking Schools.

Barbara Miner has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the The New York Times to The Milwaukee Journal. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Rethinking Columbus.

In Lessons from the Heartland, Miner weaves together the racially fraught history of public education in Milwaukee with the broader story of hyper-segregation in the rust belt, telling of an iconic city's fall from grace—and of its chance for redemption in the twenty-first century. A symbol of middle American working-class values and pride, Wisconsin—and in particular urban Milwaukee—has been at the forefront of a half-century of public education experiments, from desegregation and "school choice," to vouchers and charter schools.

Picking up where J. Anthony Lukas's Pulitzer Prize-winning Common Ground left off, Lessons from the Heartland offers a sweeping narrative portrait of an All-American city at the epicenter of American public education reform, and an exploration of larger issues of race and class in our democracy. Miner brings a journalist's eye and a parent's heart to exploring the intricate ways that jobs, housing, and schools intersect, underscoring the intrinsic link between the future of public schools and the dreams and hopes of democracy in a multicultural society. 

Hope to see you at one of this week's events.

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