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p33_n56_COLOR_Clipart_Shipwrecked_Presser_copyShipwrecked; Gross Misconduct on the High Seas by DeeDee Presser

It’s an apt title in many way. Deedee as many may know, but some may not, is the daughter of Johanne and Jay Presser of Suffield. Johanne often writes for the Observer and it’s quite apparent that she and Deedee not only share a talent for writing but have a unique sense of humor.

Her story begins when she reluctantly graduates from Miami University with a masters degree in sports studies and has to leave her happy college world and get a job. But first a trip to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. After returning home, she finds herself “with her parents around the interrogation table formerly known as our family dinner table” discussing job possibilities.

She tries (she really does try) but things go badly until she applies and gets a sports staff position on a cruise ship. This has possibilities with a chance to travel and doing something she enjoys but she soon finds out things are quite different on a cruise ship when you are staff and not one of the catered-to passengers.

She will be on the ship for over six months without a vacation and her days of work are long (as well as her nights of partying with other staff members). The first part of the book is quite a condemning critique of the cruise ship industry, and the last a rather alarming (especially for your 82 year old book reviewer) tale of what goes on below deck.

It ends sadly when Deedee is let go for what seems a very minor infraction of staff rules, which were very randomly enforced by supervisors who were not at all adverse to breaking them themselves. This was a tough blow for Deedee who had come in spite of everything to love her time on the ship and made so many good friends with people from so many different countries.

I enjoyed the book and laughed a lot at Deedee’s humor which was often self deprecating. If you wish to purchase Shipwrecked you can find it on Amazon books . – C.M.

p33_n56_COLOR_Clipart_News_ot_the_World_copyThe News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Harper Collins 2016. 209 pp.

This novel takes place in Texas shortly after the Civil War when the state was in a corrupt and lawless condition during reconstruction. The key character, Captain Jefferson Kidd, is now in his seventies. He fought in the War of 1812, the Mexican War and survived the Civil War. Now, to support himself, he travels from town to town reading the news from newspapers to people who are more than willing to pay to hear him. At one of his stops in north Texas he is offered money to return a ten-year-old child to her relatives near San Antonio, a long and dangerous journey. This child, Johanna, has been held captive by the Kiowa for four years after they killed her parents. She no longer speaks English, considers herself Indian and speaks only their language.

When they start out, the girl is terrified and nearly mute. But gradually she begins to accept the Captain as the good and kind man that he is. She begins to call him Kep-dun. Their travel through that barren landscape is hazardous. Bands of outlaws roam the land, and one group is watching for Captain Kidd’s wagon. There are some very frightening episodes, and it turns out that Johanna is a very brave and intelligent girl.

This is a wonderful story, beautifully written. It is a book I won’t forget, and I highly recommend it. – P.M.

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