Reviewer Bani Sodermark. Bani has a Ph.D in mathematical physics and has been a teacher of physics and mathematics at the university level in both India and Sweden. For the last decade, her interests have been spirituality, healthy living and self-development. She has written a number of reviews on http://amazon.com. Bani is a mother to two children.
Author: Lois W. Stern
Publisher: Lois W. Stern
Another ”Chicken Soup for the Soul”
This is a feel good book documenting a collection of true stories that involve genuine empathy and kindness to other living beings including oneself. It arose out of a writing contest by an organization called “Authors Helping Author” and includes the best contributions that were submitted. The result is a very readable and well written book enshrined in the symbol of the ruby which stands for kindness and compassion.
That which is most appealing about this collection of stories is that the kindness shown at one instance of time is nearly always repaid in some way or other, forging deep and lasting bonds as the protagonists walk their life paths in tandem with one another. In some cases, they may experience a total reversal of a bodily malfunction as in the case of the first story, in which a man took care of a wounded eagle, unable to fly and nursed it to wellness. Later on, he was afflicted with cancer and he is convinced that dream conversations with his pet eagle, supplemented with chemo was the cause of his total recovery.
A second story documents the success of a program called “Labs ‘n Life” in which dysfunctional children with learning disabilities or with other problems are made to train Labradors. The interaction with these intelligent and loving animals, miraculously opens up these children and helps them integrate into the mainstream.
The theme of working with animals continues with the rehabilitation stories of Dusty the horse and Rae the dog who are restored to their playful selves and fulfil memorable relationships with their caregivers.
Other “Chicken Soup” stories in this collection, include the one by the mother whose life was perfect until she discovered a bald spot on the top of her four year old son’s head. It turned out to be Alopecia, an incurable illness that causes the hair to fall off. After a period of anger and denial, she used her frustration as a spur to learn how good a life can be, without chemicals and additives and with real organic food. This change improved the overall health of her family. To improve things further, her son’s cheerful mien was not affected by his condition.
A few of the stories will touch you deep down inside. There is the erstwhile convict, Ray, who after years of confrontation with the bullying and sadistic warden of the penitentiary that he had occupied since his late teens, helped set fire to it. The warden was changed to one who had a record of successfully rehabilitating dreaded inmates and the whole atmosphere of the place changed as the convicts applied their energies to study and vocational training. There were no more incidents of arson or otherwise and our friend, Ray, after he was released was able to successfully land a job, get married and raise a family.
There is the holocaust survivor, who neutralized the actions of local politicians by going out with his own message of peaceful coexistence, ultimately reaching out to millions.
Another story that I will find difficult to forget is the story of a young African American black belt karate champion on the karate circuit, who it seems always acted rough if he or his team lost. It turned out that he had dedicated his life to saving children in the roughest quarters of Miami from a life of crime, by loading as many as possible into a van that was to take them to the tournament. If he did not win, he would have to borrow the money for the gas home.
There is the story of a former citizen of Rwanda, who returned to his homeland after the genocide and helping many people work their way out of poverty using his engineering skills and thus finding the way to his true calling.
One encounters a kind nurse reaching out to a psychotic patient in novel ways, ultimately gaining her trust. One also encounters two women from very different backgrounds, who connected with each other and how their meeting affected their lives.
One of the other stories is about a man diagnosed with cancer after his wife died, and how the love of his new fiancee helped him re-emerge into health. Two other stories also have to do with that dreaded disease cancer and how the afflicted found help to deal with their maladies.
Other inspiring stories include that of a young woman who appeared in the Guinness Book of Records after running seven marathons in seven continents. There is also the unusual story of window cleaners outside a hospital dressing up as children’s heroes, e.g. Batman to cheer up children suffering from debilitating diseases.
As always, in the other books in this series, there is a presentation of the author at the end of each story, and a photograph. Other relevant photographs are also included. The length of the manuscript is also optimal, not too long, not too short.
This book, in my opinion, the best so far, in the Tales 2 Inspire series, created by Editor, Lois W. Stern. The storytelling is chiselled and evocative. As mentioned earlier, some of the stories are difficult to forget. One can never read too many of such stories, of seeing the way love and spirit redefine priorities and guide the human race out of black holes of its own making.