Kickass Women

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Malka Zdrojewicz and Individual Acts of Resistance

I've been thinking a lot lately about individual stories that make up historic events. When we learn about these large uprisings or demonstrations, we often only learn about the collective story, without really understanding that its power comes from the synthesis of these thousands of smaller stories. While reading about Claudette Colvin and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I learned about the different ways individuals participated, each to the extent that they could. Most people walked miles each way to work or school in all kinds of weather. Some banded together to form a community carpool. And still others donated money, food, or childcare to help their neighbors who were busy walking or driving rather than riding the bus.

This morning, I learned that today is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the first uprising of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto (1943). I know a little about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising as a historic even, but I wanted to know about the individuals and how they participated. In my research, I found this photo. At first glance, I was emotionally struck by how defiant these women appear, even as they are also obviously terrified. I wanted to know: Who were they and what was happening?

From left to right, they are: sisters Rachela and Bluma Wyszogrodzki, and Malka Zdrojewicz. This photo was taken by the SS, as these three were arrested for having carried arms (guns and grenades, etc.) into the ghetto. After the war, Malka talked of her experience in the Warsaw Ghetto, and the circumstances behind this photo.
"We went to a neutral place in the ghetto area and climbed down into the underground sewers. Through them, we girls used to carry arms into the ghetto; we hid them in our boots. During the ghetto uprising, we hurled Molotov cocktails at the Germans.

"After the suppression of the uprising, we went into hiding, taking refuge in an underground shelter where a large quantity of arms was piled up. But the Germans detected us and forced us out. I happened to be there with Rachela and Bluma Wyszogrodzka (and that is how they took our picture) ...

"Rachela and I, together with the others, were driven to the Umschlagplatz. They later took us to Majdanek from there."
(source: Institute for Historical Review)
They had good reason to be terrified. By 1943, Jews throughout Europe were well aware of the incredible danger they faced. Everyone in the Warsaw Ghetto had been forcibly moved there -- often after they'd already escaped the Nazis as they passed through rural villages in eastern Poland on their way to the Russian front -- and they knew that it was only a temporary arrangement as the Nazis figured out what to do with them. They'd already seen large groups of their friends and family members taken away to Treblinka and Majdanek, two of the Nazi German Extermination camps in Poland.

When faced with such abject oppression and terror, these three young women (and countless others like them) refused to give up. They found ways to resist even amid the most horrific circumstances.

FYI: Malka was the only one of the three to survive Majdanek.

Image source: Wikipedia. Image info: Stroop Report original caption: "HeHalutz women captured with weapons." Jewish resistance women, among them Malka Zdrojewicz (right), who survived the Majdanek extermination camp.

You can read more about the women in the Warsaw Ghetto in this excellent World History Connected post.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Read This: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Freedom

Claudette Colvin was a teenager growing up in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, and she was tired of the daily struggle to survive in a world ruled by Jim Crow.
"I was done talking about 'good hair' and 'good skin' but not addressing our grievances. I was tired of adults complaining about how badly they were treated and not doing anything about it. I'd had enough of just feeling angry... I was tired of hoping for justice. When my moment came, I was ready."
Her moment came on March 2, 1955, when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. A full nine months before Rosa Parks did the same, in the same city. We know Rosa Park's name and story (or at least we should!), but what do we know about Claudette's? What role did she play in the fight for equality? What effect did her refusing to give up her seat have on the movement in Montgomery?

In Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (library) Phillip Hoose does a remarkable job of not only sharing Claudette's background, but he places her story within the larger civil rights timeline. He gives us a good understanding of her life growing up in Jim Crow Alabama -- her stories of experiencing racism first hand, watching her family and neighbors struggling with oppression, the influence of special teachers, and the natural questioning of a young woman determined to make a place for herself in the world -- that ultimately led her to fight back in such a publicly dangerous way.

The more I read about Claudette's life and the events leading up to her decision to stay in her seat on March 2, the more I admired her strength, her conviction, and her absolute bravery. She wasn't only taking a momentary stand against the overt racism of the people on the bus with her, she was fighting the decade's long state laws enforcing segregation on the buses. Because she was breaking the law, she knew she could be arrested (she was) and almost certainly putting herself in the extremely dangerous position of being a young black woman at the mercy of white male police officers who had shown, repeatedly, they they knew they could act with impunity in some of the most shockingly horrible ways. She knew the stories of black women being raped by white police officers, and others being beaten for any perceived misstep. And then, after her arrest and release, although she would be able to return home, she and her family and their community would very likely be targets of violence from the white community. She knew all of this on that afternoon in March, and yet she stayed in her seat.
"But worried or not, I felt proud. I had stood up for our rights. I had done something a lot of adults hadn't done. One the ride home from jail, coming over the viaduct, Reverend Johnson said something to me I'll never forget. He was an adult who everyone respected and his opinion meant a lot to me. 'Claudette,' he said, 'I'm so proud of you. Everyone prays for freedom. We've all been praying and praying. But you're different -- you want your answer the next morning. And I think you just brought the revolution to Montgomery.'"
Her story doesn't end there, though. The phrase "Twice Toward Justice" in the title refers to two brave acts -- the first being her refusal to move from her seat, and the second her agreeing to join three other courageous black women in a ground-breaking federal lawsuit, Browder v. Gayle. She agreed to testify, answering questions from hostile attorneys and facing intense public scrutiny in the press, because she knew the importance of continuing the fight for justice.
"At night, I would lie in bed and rehearse the things I was going to say, Raymond (her son) slept beside me in a little bassinet. It was just the two of use in the front room, him breathing or fussing or pulling at his bottle, and me thinking about what I would say at trial. Sometimes I thought about Harriet Tubman, about her courage. I prayed I could have her courage on the trial day."
Spoiler alert: she did! She testified to the treatment she received on the bus and from the police offices, and why she and others in the black community had been boycotting the buses. She, a black teenager who'd been told her whole life to defer to whites at the risk of her safety, brazenly looked these powerful men in the eyes and answered their questions without hesitation or backing down. When asked why she stopped riding the buses on December fifth, she answered coolly, "Because we were treated wrong, dirty and nasty." She bravely spoke the truth in the face of overwhelming hatred and oppression. And for this, she deserves to be remembered as a civil rights hero.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (library) is an excellent book for young adults (and older adults, to be honest) who want to know more about Claudette Colvin, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1950s. Phillip Hoose gives the reader an excellent understanding of the important issues of the era, with photographs and quotes from people who were there as context for Claudette's story. I learned quite a bit of new information about Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as other important people and events that eventually led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and its eventual success. While Rosa Parks is remembered for her refusal to move to the back of the bus, Claudette's defiant action and arrest nine months earlier was the spark that pushed the already fed up black community of Montgomery into action.

That alone makes this book an excellent addition to any library. But not content to simply tell Claudette's story, Phillip Hoose was determined to meet with her and hear her tell her own story. The book switches from historical explanation to memoir, with Claudette explaining events from her life in her own words. This is what makes this book such an incredibly powerful read. As he writes in the book:
"More than any other story I know, Claudette Colvin's life story shows how history is made up of objective facts and personal truths, braided together. In her case, a girl raised in poverty by a strong, loving family twice risked her life to gain a measure of justice for her people. Hers is the story of a wise and brave woman who, when she was a smart, angry teenager in Jim Crow Alabama, made contributions to human rights far too important to be forgotten."
Claudette Colvin is still alive. After the Browder v. Gayle, she continued to struggle to support herself and her child in Montgomery, and eventually moved to New York City to escape the hate-filled backlash of violence against blacks raging across the south and especially in Montgomery. When I write about "self-rescuing princesses" I mean people like Claudette Colvin. She never once stopped working for justice. When her moment arrived, she was ready and she held her ground. And then when she needed to, she found a way to persevere and protect herself and her child.
"When I look back now, I think Rosa Parks was the right person to represent that movement at that time. She was a good and strong person, accepted by more people than were ready to accept me. But I made a personal statement, too, one that she didn't make and probably couldn't have made. Mine was the first cry for justice, and a loud one. I made it so that our own adult leaders couldn't just be nice anymore. Back then, as a teenager, I kept thinking, Why don't the adults around here just say something? Say it so they know we don't accept segregation? I knew then and I know now that, when it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can't sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, 'This is not right.'"
And she did. And you can learn all about her fight for justice -- and get a healthy dose of inspiration for your own fight, as well as inspiring the next generation of social justice warriors -- by reading  Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (library) by Phillip Hoose.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sigrid Schultz - the dragon from Chicago

Earlier this week I read this short blurb about a woman I'd never heard of before:
January 5, 1893 (1980) – Sigrid Schultz, war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, interviewed Hitler, reported on German-Russian non-aggression pact, wrote articles on German concentration camps.
(source: NWHP January calendar)
I was surprised I hadn't heard of this amazing woman's story until now, so I went looking for more information about her life and her work.

Fortunately I was able to get a copy of Kerrie Logan Hollihan's Reporting Under Fire: 16 Daring Women War Correspondents and Photojournalists, which has an entire section devoted to her. (I am a huge fan of Kerrie Logan Hollihan, and highly recommend you check out her bibliography.)

Sigrid Schultz was born in the US, but spent much of her childhood in Europe. Her father was a portrait painter and traveled Europe painting for the wealthy elite. Having grown up in Europe, Sigrid spoke perfect German and French as well as English. She studied history and international law at Berlin University. Her family was forced to remain in Germany during World War I because of health issues. As alien residents, they were required to report their movements to the authorities twice a day throughout the war. She was intelligent and curious, and while she was able to socialize with the German elite, she was not taken in by their political agenda. All of these experiences went into making her the remarkable journalist was was to become over the next two decades.

Her fluency in multiple languages and her intimate knowledge of German politics made her a perfect candidate for an opening at the Chicago Tribune, whose owner and publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick was impressed by Sigrid's persistence to pursue any story she was assigned. In 1919, she was hired in the Berlin office of the Tribune, and by 1925, she was promoted to the position of chief correspondent for Central Europe, making her America's first woman bureau chief at a foreign desk.

Her strength was as a superb investigator and reporter, and in the years leading up to WWII she was committed to finding and telling the truth about the rising National Socialist Party. This put her at considerable risk and she often had to resort to writing under a pseudonym and filing her reports under false datelines out of other European offices. Even so, she remained a target for expulsion. She'd watched as other reporters were targeted by the political elite. One technique the Germans used to silence reporters was to plant information they could then "discover" and use to put the reporter on trial for espionage.
Sigrid took great care not to be tripped up by such tactics, so one day, when her mother telephoned to say that a stranger had dropped a packet of papers at her flat, Sigrid jumped up from her desk and raced home. The packet held designs for airplane engines. Sigrid threw it in the first and watched it burn.
(source: Reporting Under Fire: 16 Daring Women War Correspondents and Photojournalists)
Later, undaunted and refusing to stand down, she confronted Hermann Göring, former WWI flying ace and now leading member of the Nazi Party, about the use of these unethical methods of silencing the press. Angered by her insolence, he nicknamed her "that dragon from Chicago."
She stressed that correspondents were not foolish enough to buy or send information meant for spies. She said agents who, judging by their seedy looks were obviously underpaid, posed the danger of concocting lies about the press. "Schultz, I`ve always suspected it," Goering said, shaking his fist at her. "You`ll never learn to show proper respect for state authorities. I suppose that is one of the characteristics of people from that crime-ridden city of Chicago." (Goering was so angry, Schultz recalled in her memoirs, that he dubbed her "that dragon from Chicago.")
(source: Chicago Tribune)"
She stayed in Germany for as long as she could, filing reports about concentration camps, government assaults on churches and other institutions, telling the truth about increasing persecution of Germany's Jews, warning about dangerous alliances with other countries, and otherwise trying to convince the world of the atrocities she was witnessing. By 1940, though, with the war raging around her, she found it necessary to leave. First she fled to Spain, but in 1941 illness forced her to return to the United States. She spent the next years writing and lecturing about her time in Germany, all the while keeping a close eye on the news reports. As soon as the war was over, she was back on the front lines, this time reporting about the fall of Germany, and covering the Nuremberg Trials, and helping the American public understand exactly what had happened.
"We were the first pressmen who landed near Weimar and entered the corpse-strewn concentration camp of Buchenwald. When our plane flew into Leipzig where the battle was raging, we nearly got trapped by SS guards in a big building we examined," she recalled. Fortunately, they did not go into the basement where, they later learned, SS guards stood ready to shoot them.
(source: Chicago Tribune)"
In the years since World War II there have been no shortage of stories about brave men and women who fought against fascism and tyranny in the midst of incredible danger and in the face of overwhelming indifference around the world. I sometimes wonder what I would be able to achieve under similar circumstances. Would I have the dedication to continue fighting when my life was threatened? Would I willingly remain in a dangerous situation for the sake of a greater goal? I don't know, and I honestly hope I never never have to face such terrible challenges. But if I do, I sincerely hope I would find the strength to be as fearless as Sigrid Schultz. What a truly remarkable, inspirational woman!

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kickstart This: Queen Girls

Several weeks ago I received an email about Queen Girls, a new series of picture books featuring the stories of real women from history told as though they were fairy tales, and was immediately intrigued! I have always felt as thought many of these women's stories are magical, so to learn that there are others who not only agree but who have the talent to create something this beautiful is remarkable!

Earlier in December, before I got terribly sick, I was able to chat a bit with Andrea Doshi, one of the three amazing young women involved in the Queen Girls project. They have since met their original funding goal, but I still recommend backing this project. The artwork is beautiful and the stories are so very important!

SRPS: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

AD: Of course! My name is Andrea and I was born and raised in Chicago by a multicultural family. I graduated with a Master's in Speech Pathology and worked within the Chicago Public Schools. I have spent the past couple of years on the road, exploring different countries and cultures.  I am inspired by traveling, the beauty of nature, and the true feeling of joy -- and I am determined to share what it feels like to be driven by inspiration with as many children as possible!

SRPS: What is Queen Girls? Where did the inspiration for this project come from?

AD: Queen Girls is a collection of children's books. The stories are based on inspirational women from the past and turned into fairy tales, inspiring girls to follow their dreams. We are using a one for one model meaning for each book purchased, we will donate another to national and international organizations that empower women and fight illiteracy. Our first book is just about ready to be sent over to the printers. It is about Bessie Coleman, the first African American female pilot in the world!

The Queen Girls project was born about a year ago. After my sister-in-law had her first baby, she started taking a closer look at children's literature and realized that they were full of stereotypes. She saw that there were not many empowering books for girls. When she mentioned the idea, it didn't take me more than a second to make a decision! From my experiences, I know first hand that girls from all over the world struggle to dream. We started brainstorming Queen Girls immediately!

SRPS: Why is it so important to you to tell the stories of real women in history?

AD: Because we believe it will help girls envision their dreams as real. Books often act as mirrors in which young girls see their reflections and the impact of that is huge!

SRPS: The artwork is beautiful. And they convey so much about the lives and dreams of these women on each page. Can you tell me a little about your process of sharing the stories in pictures?

AD: The illustrations have been done by Chiara Fabbri, a good friend of ours from Italy. We all worked together, giving each other space to express our ideas. We've done it remotely since Chiara is in Italy and Jimena is in Charlotte, NC. We've worked slide by slide, with a lot of back and forth, and a lot of love and patience. We've managed to make it work wonderfully and Chiara has surpassed every expectation we could have possibly imagined!

SRPS: Jimena is your sister-in-law and Chiara is a close friend. How has the experience been working together on this project with two women you are also close to personally? Have you learned anything new about yourself or each other?

AD: Where to begin!! We are three extremely passionate women and I would say that is what has gotten us to where we are now! We've spent countless hours connecting remotely. Lots of three-way calls with a talking baby in the background! It's been challenging at times considering we speak 3 different languages and are on 3 different time zones, but we have managed to make it work!

For me, and I think I can say this for all of us, we've learned how important communication is. It is key to understanding one another and making sure everyone is on the same page at all times.
I've had this conversation with Jimena before - working with family can be intense. Sometimes you get to be a little too honest, but at the end of the day, family always is more understanding and loving with each other. It is so special to share this journey with each other!

SRPS: Your Kickstarter campaign is doing well! Do you have any plans for stretch goals?

AD: We are so amazed at the love and support we have already gotten from the community! We cannot believe we've already reached our goal! We want to reach as many kids as possible, so we plan on continuing to spread the love and collecting as many funds as possible to print more copies of Bessie, Queen of the Sky and get them into the hands as as many kids as possible. Stretch goals are being discussed as we speak!

SRPS: After Bessie, Queen of the Sky, what comes next?

AD: We'll continue creating Queens of all kinds! Queen Isadora and Queen Savi are next on the list! Queen Isadora is inspired by the life of Isadora Duncan, the first ballerina of Modern dance, and Queen Savi inspired by the life of Savitribhai Phule, a woman poet, an educationalist and a social reformer.

SRPS: You have been working on this project for a year. How exciting is it to finally see it so close to complete?

AD: I can't believe it has been a whole year! It feels surreal to be honest. It is truly amazing seeing our idea turn into a dream and now our dream into reality. "Almost complete" is far from where we are. We have so many more books to write and so many hands to put books in. This is just the beginning, and the support and love we've received shows how much this type of content is needed and is fueling even more inspiration! We envision creating a community where other authors and illustrators can bring their own Queens on board of the collection, so there is a lot more to come!

SRPS: Where can folks find out more about Queen Girls?

AD: We'll be available on Kickstarter through January 15th. There you can find more information regarding our collection and campaign! We also have our website, where you can go to check the latest updates, as well as checking us out on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Bessie, Queen of the Sky! If you haven't already backed this project, please consider doing so ASAP! We need more inspirational stories like this in the world.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Claire Smith - Honoring a pioneering reporter and inspiration

Last night, at the annual Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) dinner and awards ceremony, a new record was set as Claire Smith, longtime sports writer and coordinating editor of ESPN's news group, accepted the prestigious J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest award given sports reporting.

According to the ESPN news story about the event, she was given "a standing ovation when her election was announced, and she asked the other half dozen women in the room to stand alongside her as she spoke."

In her acceptance speech, she thanked "the guys that stood up to the athletes and teams and said that we are your peers and we deserve to be treated like you."

"I want to thank you as well as the women who walked the walk and fought the battles and got all of us to this point. No one does this by themselves.''

I heard this evening's PBS Newshour segment interviewing her, and I was filled with renewed inspiration to continue sharing the stories of trailblazers in every field, but especially in sports where it seems women continue to be left behind.

Her inspiration for writing comes from her love of the game and her passion for telling stories, but also her connection to the story of Jackie Robinson. "This sport taught this country how to grow up... it integrated 20-some years before [the rest of] the United States of America."

But while Major League Baseball may have been more accepting of people of color, it was much more difficult for her to work as a female reporter. "It was no contest, it was harder because of gender than race." Fortunately for Claire Smith, working with the Yankees, she was protected by their aggressive stance for diversity in the clubhouse, giving her easier access to do her job than women in other cities may have faced.

Her most dramatic instance of overt sexism came after the World Series playoff game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres, when she went to enter the visiting team's locker room at Wrigley Field, and was denied entry because of a sexist policy by the Padres prohibiting women access to the clubhouse. This was a watershed moment, with the players and reporters standing behind her. The very next day, the brand new Commissioner of Baseball Peter Ueberroth set down the law giving equal access to all reporters with the proper credentials regardless of gender.

As someone who grew up watching baseball and loving the game, I have long been fascinated by the ways we talk about this sport and how it has influenced our understanding of larger social issues. I'm absolutely thrilled Claire Smith is getting the recognition she so richly deserves. She truly is an amazing role model for young women, and especially young women of color, to pursue their passions despite challenges they may face. Her strength of character and her courage to continue doing her job in the face of sexism and racism serve as an excellent example of what a true self-rescuing princess is capable of.

Brava Claire Smith!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Katya Budanova - brave young role model

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yekaterina "Katya" Budanova, one of the remarkable Soviet female fighter aces from World War II. For all of the terrible faults of the Soviet Union, one cannot find much to complain about when it came to offering opportunities for women outside of traditional gender roles. Katya's life, even before she took to the skies as a fighter pilot, is a testament to that.

Katya was born into a peasant family in rural western Russia. She was a bright girl who did quite well in school, graduating elementary school with the highest grades. Unfortunately, after the death of her father, she was forced to leave school to earn money to help support her family. She worked as a nanny for several years until, at the age of 13, her mother sent her to live with her sister in Moscow. It was there, working as a carpenter in an aircraft factory, where she began to show an interest in flying.

The factory had an aeroclub, and Katya, always the brave one, joined the parachute team. In 1934, at the age 18, she earned her flying license, and in 1937, she graduated to flight instructor. She was hooked! She would regularly volunteer to join air shows and "flying parades," taking to the skies in the single-seater Yakovlev UT-1.

When Hitler's forces attacked the USSR, like many of her compatriots, she rushed to enlist in the military. She was assigned to the all-female 586th Fighter Regiment, led by the infamous Marina Raskova. With the war raging all along the western border, her regiment was called in to take the place of male fighters. In May 1942, they were sent to defend the rail-lines near Saratov. Katya flew her first combat missions, each one spectacularly successful. In fact, the Soviet Commanders were so impressed with the women pilots the began to mix them in with male squads.

In September 1942, Katya was assigned to the same mission as fellow flying aces Lydia Litvyak, Maria M. Kuznetsova and Raisa Beliaeva. While flying together, they showed exceptional skill at combining forces to bring down enemy fighters. They were equally impressive during their solo missions. Over the course of the next year, Katya showed extreme bravery and skill, defending her country by shooting down enemy planes of all types, earning the Order of the Red Star, the Order of the Patriotic War, and the title of Hero of the Russian Federation (posthumously).

On July 19, 1943, she took off from Novokrasnovka as part of an escort mission. Doing her job, when she spotted three enemy fighters attacking a group of Soviet bombers, she attempted to draw them off. She managed to destroy one, and send another limping away, but in the process her own plane had been badly damaged and was on fire. She managed to extinguish the fire and land her plane safely in a field, but by the time the local farmers reached she was dead.

What I find the most interesting about her story is not that she was a pilot, but that she was a fighter pilot, who willingly put herself in danger to protect and defend her country. Typically this type of wartime hero story is limited to the patriotism and bravery of men. The stories of women's efforts in fighting are too often forgotten after the battles are done and everyone goes back to "normal."

It's as if societies need to believe that women only fight when they're threatened individually, never as an expression of their love of country. And that's a shame. We need female heroes like Katya Budanova -- roles models of bravery in the fight for the greater good, despite immediate personal danger. Women have always fought. Isn't it about time we started to tell their stories as well?

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots

I picked up Tomorrow There Will be Apricots by Jessica Soffer on a whim, intrigued by the cover. I know it's a cliche, but I just couldn't put it down once I had it in my hands.

Despite its gorgeous design, the cover did not adequately prepare me for the level of absolutely heart-breaking beauty I found inside this book. Jessica Soffer has created an emotional punch of a novel filled with longing for love — Lorca's longing for the love she never received; Victoria's longing for the love she lost or denied herself — and the kind of strange miracles that can happen when you finally open your heart to the right person.

Lorca is the daughter of an emotionally unavailable mother. Victoria is a recent widow looking back over her life and the connections she kept at arms length. Both are desperately looking for some reason to keep going.

Lorca, as children are wont to do, blames herself for her mother's inattention, and clings to the childish hope that if she were a more perfect daughter, her mother would magically change into a more loving and nurturing being. Victoria, suddenly unmoored by the death of her husband, lights on the idea of locating the daughter she gave up years ago.

The two meet during Lorca's search for the recipe to a dish her mother enjoyed years ago at the restaurant own by by Victoria and her husband Joseph. Lorca is convinced that by cooking the most perfect plate of masgouf for her it would magically break open her mother's shell, revealing her real mother inside — the one who can provide the emotional connection she so desperately needs.

Victoria is pushed to offer cooking classes in her home by Dottie, the eccentric friend of her husband who lives in the apartment above her, as a way of busying herself after his death. Upon meeting Lorca, she begins to suspect they may have a stronger connection than simply the love of good food.

The ending is deeply satisfying, in a way I couldn't have imagined while reading. It renewed my sense of hope for humanity and my faith in the curative powers of love. I cannot recommend Tomorrow There Will be Apricots strongly enough. Both Lorca and Victoria are wonderfully complex characters who remind us that sometimes being a self-rescuing princess includes finding the right person to help us when we cannot do it all ourselves.

[CN: this books contains scenes of self-harm.]

[Note: I have included Amazon Affiliate links in this post. I am exploring options for increasing my income from this blog to help me to continue to bring you the important stories of kickass women and girls. While I will always work to tell these stories, I have bills to pay. By all means feel free to look for these books elsewhere if you prefer. If you want to help support the work I do here, please consider using these links to shop.]

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Girls Can! Crate: How to empower your self-rescuing princess!

A while ago I received a Girls Can! Crate and OMG y'all! This thing is so cool! It's full of color and mysterious packets and and ideas to make amazing things! I would have loved something like this when I was a kid!

I was a crafty kid. I grew up living pretty close to my cousins who were my same age, and we spent a lot of time together. But I also have a lot of happy memories spending hours playing in my room by myself. It seems my introvert tendencies started early. I was pretty much always making thing -- coloring, painting, cutting up construction paper and gluing it together in weird shapes, crocheting clothes for my dolls.

If was wasn't making something I was reading. Sometimes fiction, but a lot of times history. Or the encyclopedia. I always loved diving into the encyclopedia. It had so much precious information in there!

When this box arrived, my inner 6 year old was ecstatic! First of all, the outside of the box is adorable and I had so much fun just trying to guess what was inside. Of course, I immediately dumped all my boring grown-up mail on the table and squeeed like a little girl as I opened it!

What I found inside was practically magical! A box full of colorful paper with mysterious items nestled in with markers, blocks, pipe cleaners, scissors, tissue paper, glue and so many other wonderful crafty necessities! As I pulled each item out, it felt like I was unpacking a wonderful present that just kept on getting better.