Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sunday January 15th, 2017 Biographies

Every year at the library, we purchase a fair number of biographies, many detailing the exploits of the rich and famous, with members of the performing arts, sports and politics heavily favoured.  Some of the other biographies or autobiographies we buy follow the stories of those whose lives we’d never wish to share. Those are the lives that are touched by tragedy but whose strength and courage have taken them beyond the darkness toward a brighter path. 

In 2006, with the death of his father, Gulwali was forced to escape Afghanistan and travel through eight countries to reach safety in Britain. Over the twelve month journey, Gulwali who as only 12 at the time, faced imprisonment, hunger, and violence as well as nearly drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. In his new life, he learned English and was sent to a top university. He was even given the honour of carrying the Olympic torch for the 2012 games. Guwali has become an ardent advocate of democracy and speaks throughout the world for the cause of refugees. 

This is a gripping memoir about a young boy forced to live on the streets, stealing and fighting to survive and the story of a nation controlled by a totalitarian regime where deprivation has become the norm. Sungju began his life as the pampered son of the elite but his parent"s political fall forced the family into destitution and put Sungju on the streets where he formed a new family, his gang brothers. The boys did what they needed to survive while facing arrest, imprisonment and execution. 

Moore had traveled to Thailand to begin a new life leaving England and hopefully his drug problems behind. In Thailand he became a professional Muay Thai boxer and even fell in love, all was great until he relapsed and was caught and sent to the inhumane Klong Prem prison. Here all life is worth nothing with dead bodies left to rot among the prisoners, who are left with little food and no sanitation. Gangs run rampant and guards are corrupt, and Moore as a foreigner was treated worse than most. It was his own grim determination and skill as a Muay Thai boxer that saved his life and won his freedom. 

Even when you have everything on the surface, your personal life can be chaos. Vargas began suffering from anxiety as a young child while her father served in the military and as she grew so did her sense of anxiousness and the need to use alcohol for relief. She found herself living in denial until in a moment of crisis she made a very public confession that put her career as a reporter for ABC and her private life at risk, but may have saved her life. 

The phone call in September of 2010 from her son, Mat saying “I just shot Dad”, both put an end to years of abuse of both Holly and her children by her husband and began a nightmare as the legal system saw Mat as the aggressor and her husband as a victim.  That years of violence ended in a tragic death was not a surprise but the determination of Holly, a paraplegic and an abuse victim to support her son and the backing of her friends and neighbours to help the both of them results in a deeply emotional read.

Lori Kauzlarick

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