Sam’s Review of The Bracelet by Roberta Gately

thebThe Bracelet by Roberta Gately follows Abby Monroe, a young woman searching for herself following a difficult breakup. She thought she had found “the one” in long time boyfriend, Eric, but when Eric is offered a job across the country he decides to go on without her.

So, heartbroken and lost, Abby does what any girl would in that situation: join the United Nations and take off half way around the world to Peshawar, Pakistan. Here Abby, a trained nurse, looks at statistical data from a refugee camp and reports her findings to the UN. The goal of their mission is to aid in any way possible the vaccinations of the refugees (mostly women and children) who come there.

One of Abby’s colleagues in Peshawar is Najeela, a bubbly, beautiful young woman originally from Afghanistan. Her family left Afghanistan as her father wanted different opportunities for his wife, a college professor, and his daughter than what would have been allowed had they stayed. Despite the appearance of progressive thinking, Najeela mentions several times that her father can be quite violent and closed-minded at home, but wants to be seen as forward thinking to the public. Thus Abby begins to learn what is going on behind closed doors in her new city.

Of course, because this is a story of a heartbroken young woman there must be a love interest. Enter Nick, a handsome, rugged reporter sent to Peshawar to write a story about the UN’s involvement there. Part of Nick’s assignment is to interview Abby. At first they are at odds. Abby doesn’t want to be interviewed and resents Nick’s arrogant attitude. Nick reveals to her that he considers his interview with her “fluff” and his real angle is to write about human trafficking, which is a major problem in the refugee camp, as well as the city itself. It’s a problem that Nick is passionate about exposing, and one that he feels is being ignored. Abby is shocked to hear about this from Nick and is also hurt at being thought of as “fluff.” Predictably, as they begin to work together their feelings change.

Perhaps the most interesting plot point comes in the very first chapter of the novel where Abby bears witness to a heinous crime. While training in Geneva for her mission in Pakistan, Abby sees a woman being pushed out of a building and falling to her death. What Abby remembers most about the nightmarish scene is a beautifully crafted bracelet on the woman’s arm. With no one around, Abby goes back to her hotel to get help. By the time she brings aid to the crime scene, it has been cleared and no one believes what Abby saw. This experience changes Abby and continues to haunt her throughout her journey.

Gately’s story reads sort of like a Lifetime movie (please know I LOVE Lifetime movies.) It’s easy to follow and surprisingly light given the intense content of human trafficking. I really enjoyed the balance between the love story, friendship, and the healthy dose of reality. Human trafficking is a huge problem in our world, one that deserves attention.

I think that Gately handled her content well, exposing just enough to make her point, but not so much that it was difficult for me to read. I think it is worth bearing in mind the seriousness of the content before you pick up this book as your reaction to those themes/ scenes might be totally different from mine.  All in all a nice, quick read.

3 out of 5 Stars

The Bracelet by Roberta Gately
Gallery Books (2012)
Paperback 336 pages
ISBN: 9781451669121

Special thanks to Gallery Books for my review copy!

Sam Asks: What’s Your Balanced Reading Diet?

In Ms. Gati’s 6th grade reading class, we follow a strict reading diet. This is in an effort to facilitate healthy growth of our thinking and schema. Favorite or “default” genres, authors, and topics are put into the category of “doughnuts” and “pizza,” while challenge genres, authors, and topics are our “broccoli.”

Earlier this year I shared with my students that for me science fiction is a “doughnut” genre and Rick Riordan is a definite “pizza” author. I decided that in order to lead by example, I would participate in my challenge to them: read three “green veggie” genres, authors, or topics in between each of my favorite ones.

So far, it’s been a bit of a challenge! As readers I think our natural inclination is to pick up books that have familiar aspects. My students have found that in reading different genres, they have been able to extend their thinking about certain themes. They have noticed that topics and lessons transcend genres and have been able to draw some very insightful conclusions.

As a group we have seen ourselves grow. In the beginning, we all abandoned far more books than we do now. I think we were afraid of trying something new. We didn’t like the idea of powering into a text that we would have previously thought of as boring or not interesting.

I try to check in with my students as often as possible to make sure that they are reading a broad range of text. In turn, they check in with me. It has gotten to a point where they insist that I leave the book I’m reading on my desk each week so that they can inspect it for genre, author, and topic. I have had to sneak a few science fiction books in on my Nook to avoid being scolded!

Thus, in an effort to hold up my end of the bargain I have moved into a genre that I rarely read, realistic fiction. The Bracelet by, Roberta Gately is a book that deals in current events. Not only is this book “green veggies,” but it was also written for adults (I typically read YA). My students were so proud!

At the close of this post, I have a question and a challenge for you:

Question: What is your reading junk food? What is your green veggie?

Challenge: Next book you choose – let it be something outside of your comfort zone. Balance your reading life, it’s challenging and fun 🙂

The January Roundup!

Guys, my life was so boring this past January.  I have no idea why I was only able to finish seven books.  The only big thing that really happened to me was transferring jobs.  I moved from my company’s accounting department to their sales and operations department.  It’s a happy transfer for me, as I’ve been with my current company for five years.  I’m looking forward to all the new challenges my new position will hold!  On top of training for my new position I’ve been training the person taking over my finance responsibilities.  All this coupled with putting away Christmas decorations, our bowling league starting, and just organizing life for the new year has left me fairly tired at night.

IMG_20130126_151407I will share with you quickly that Todd and I went to NYC last month to meet up with our college roommates Kate and Marc, as well as staff blogger Adam.  We did a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Munch’s pastel version of The Scream.  It was absolutely extraordinary to finally be able to see Starry Night in person.  It’s been my favorite painting for as long as I can remember, yet it’s taken me this long to see it (crazy, I know).

As for my reading pace, I’m two books behind where I should be for the year.  I’m confident I’ll be able to pick up the pace in February.  My top reads of January are a tie between Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Shades of Earth by Beth Revis.

Looking ahead, I’m working on reviews of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory, Dragonfly in Amber (the second book in the Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon, and some joint reviews with my buddy Kelly from Reading With Analysis.  Todd’s working on Targets of Revenge by Jeffrey S. Stephens and Breaking Barriers by Peter Altschul.  Jess has a review of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn posting next week and Sam’s working on a review of The Bracelet by Roberta Gately.  We’re keeping busy and reading lots of books to share with you.

Let us know how your January shaped up!