Looking For a Reason

EHAn essay I wrote quite a while ago has been published on the Effectively Human website.  It’s a piece about a young man I knew when I was volunteering, one that I often think about and hope he is doing well.  It still breaks my heart to think he might not be.

Here’s a small piece of it but I hope you will click through to read the rest.

Maybe the question I need to answer is not what went wrong, but what might go wrong. How long before the young boy’s eyes in the young man’s face grow cold? Will the day come when he will look at me with a glazed gaze: wild, cruel, daring someone for a reason to vent his anger and frustration at what he has become? He will sit on our stained blue couch and I will mix hot cocoa for him, or maybe pour coffee, extra cream and extra sugar. He will stuff packages of cookies in his pockets and ask if we have any clean socks, any hygiene kits, any sandwiches, any more coffee. Anything? The dark hair will be streaked with gray, the zipper on his coat will not quite close and he will carry a plastic shopping bag with the corner of a frayed airline blanket poking out from its tightly packed interior.

If this is Eric’s future, will I find courage enough then to look past his rage to find the human being inside? Will there be one there? Which would be the worst case scenario: a cardboard box or a coffin?

A cardboard box, and then a coffin?

No, I think. The worst case scenario would be not looking for the human being. If I stop looking, if everyone stops looking, the human being dies while the body continues to breathe. And the little boy in the church pew, the face he makes as he tugs at his tight top shirt button, the wide-eyed dream of someday drawing comic books, or pitching for the Yankees, or winning the Indy 500, dies also.

via Effectively Human: Homelessness, The Night Ministry in Chicago and A Reason to Care.

“This book…prompted…further research about homelessness”

MJLast week I posted a link to a review of Bend Me, Shape Me by M.J. Joachim.  While she had many good things to say about the book, she concluded at the end not to add the book to her Recommended Reading list.  While I was disappointed, I was happy with the many things she did like about the book.

Snow and Jo were not done with the reviewer, however. Recently MJ wrote this note on a review she did for a John Grisham book:

Note:  I added an update to my recent Bend Me, Shape Me review. This book touched my heart and prompted me [to] read and conduct further research about homelessness. Consequently, I published another book review for Danielle Steel’s book, A Gift of Hope, today on my Effectively Human website, and have added Bend Me, Shape me to my Recommended Reading List.

[Emphasis above added by me]

She then included a slight nod to Bend Me, Shape Me in her Danielle Steele review.  I am thrilled that my name and my novel has been mentioned (however incidentally) in association with big time names like Grisham and Steele.  More importantly, since grabbing hold of readers’ minds and making them think even after the book is finished is one of the ultimate goals of my Street Stories series, I am gratified at this turn of events.

Here is M.J.’s description of what made her change her mind.

BOOK REVIEWER’S NOTE: I wanted more. My book reviewer’s lens clashed strongly with my desire to be Effectively Human. What I found was an unyielding desire to learn and understand the plight of homelessness in our midst. From the moment I finished reading and reviewing “Bend Me, Shape Me,” thoughts of homeless people and the struggles they face have been ever present in my heart, mind and soul. For this reason I’m changing my mind and adding “Bend Me, Shape Me” to my Recommended Reading List. My opinions shared in this review have not changed from a reader’s point of view. However, I would be remiss if I overlooked what the images of homelessness and life on the streets shared in this book, have done to my heart.

As a side note, I’m currently working on and researching some new articles relating to homelessness for my Effectively Human website. I expect to publish a few more in the not too distant future.

via M. J. Joachim’s Writing Tips: Book Review: Bend Me, Shape Me by Debra R. Borys.

[Emphasis added by me again]