Tara Westover and the Quality of Mercy

The quality of mercy is not strain’d
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven . . . Merchant of Venice

I never seem to get book recommendations right. Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Lila, Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen – there are good, thoughtful people who don’t love these books, Idaho gal among them; it baffles me. Of course, this bafflement goes both ways. I told a friend recently that the Harry Potter series never really grabbed me. “Oh, I’m not sure we can be friends,” she replied. So, I’m generally tentative about suggesting a “must read.” But, well, onward into the breach and all that: Educated by Tara Westover is one of those books that all good human beings will like; please give it a whirl.

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Holy Saturday and The Long Defeat

Two scenes come to mind on this slow, quiet Holy Saturday. 

The first appears in Mountains Beyond Mountains, a book by Tracy Kidder that traces Dr. Paul Farmer and his extraordinary work to address public health inequities in Haiti. As Farmer and Kidder embark on a long hike through the mountains of Haiti to visit a sick child, Kidder considers  how to ask a delicate question about a recent decision. Farmer’s non-profit, Partners in Health (PIH), had flown John, a very ill Haitian boy, back to Boston at considerable expense and with slim hope of healing. John wasn’t healed, and Kidder wondered aloud to Farmer how he justified  the extravagant expense, given all the other needs competing for PIH’s limited resources

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