Under the House


Under the House: Leslie Hall Pinder

 

Parentage, birthright and are just the tip of the iceberg of the issues brought to light in “Under the House.” Some grow up knowing who there parents are while others remain in the dark. Two women torn apart with a huge difference in their ages both not knowing who there father is. Family secrets can tear apart the members creating lives that are carved out of distorted patterns and leading them to living lives that deny them the ability to make choices and have the same opportunities afforded to others. Maude is our main character as we meet her as a child learning about her hopes and dreams and what happens to her in school, her mother’s reaction to her birth and the resentment of her brother Stanley towards her. As the years go on we learn more about Maude as she marries but does not seem happy and is summoned home by her father. Learning we find out that the family owns a Canadian farm and her brother would like to exile her from the family and keep the farm for himself. Overprotected as a child and keeping a family secret, there is much that she reveals about a basement in their home haunting her waking hours and reminding her of someone else. Meeting the family you find them cold, stark, austere and sedate. The father runs the family, the mother seems to be a typical matriarch and the two sons not very warm to Maude as she appears to enter a world where in reality she is an outsider. The discussion at dinner is about the Cairn that their father wants to erect. In order to create some type of monument to the family’s heritage and name he asked his children to return to decide what to inscribe. Defined as a  mound of stones erected as a memorial or marker S.D. their father wants their input as to how to create this memorial and why.

 

Then a startling revelation as Stanley manipulates his father into tearing up his will after he explains how he wants his estate divided. Stanley is cunning, mean and cruel as he reveals something to Maude about her parentage and she learns a harsh truth sending her off into another world of her own. Waking up the next morning and finding Kathryn looking after her she seems disoriented and unsure of where she is and what transpired. Enter Muriel and Evelyn and things take on a different complexion as Stanley marries Muriel and Evelyn is now uprooted to another town and a new school. Stanley is different and as a stepfather controlling and demanding. Evelyn is astute and realizes that something is off about him. While Maude leaves her parent’s home and leaves her secrets buried in the cellar along with her thoughts. The truths that she reveals to her mother are permanently locked away for a while. Then Evelyn meets Clarence her stepfather’s brother and is put in charge of his bird: His Majesty. What happens would rock the world of any young child as a tragedy occurs and Evelyn is inconsolable. Evelyn disappears and does not appear for dinner one evening and Stanley seems unnerved and Muriel upset. Ida was their child and he seemed unsure of how to deal with her but still she was his own not like Evelyn. Stanley had his own perception of Evelyn thinking she would take advantage of him and want his money. Returning home she states she left a note but Stanley convinces her mother she is lying. Moving ahead three years we meet Evelyn again and get to know her connection to the notes on a piano and seem to connect to her and Clarence. Feeling out of place and not really a part of anything or anyone. Mean, controlling and not really making her feel wanted Stanley took his place as the head of a very cold and unhappy family. Just what Muriel sees or saw in him is baffling except for his money. He reminded Evelyn of a cold stone that she would like to kick. Moving ahead we realize that her mother tried to get her some help when thinking something was wrong with her and next we learn that she had taken to drinking leaving Evelyn in serious trouble. An incident in school would really change things for Evelyn as she wanted to find out who her father was and a picture that she held dear and she ran for life to save it. Evelyn finds herself in a difficult situation and feels like she buried deeper within her own thoughts and mind. As she stands up to the teacher and the principal her mother arrives and takes her home. What happens next is quite compelling as she’s led away and taken home only to be sedated by a doctor. Finally we learn that Evelyn is shoved off by Stanley wanting to control not only her but his family in general. Then Evelyn is sent away to school and finally has some type of life but still feels alone when it comes to the girls in the school. Muriel speaks out to Stanley and the end result she realizes will only give her grief. Never speaking about Maude or anyone that makes him angry she agrees to send her child away and then feels she is happy. Then we move ahead to 1958 and her grandfather S.D. passes away and she is summoned to come home.

 

Author Leslie Hall Pinder takes the reader inside the minds of the Rathbone family allowing us to hear the voice of S.D. before he dies and understand just how much Stanley is like him. Added in the fact that the author mirrors him after his father and Kathryn seems to be a weaker link as time goes on. What happens when Evelyn and Maude meet steps up the plot bringing it to a strong conclusion. Evelyn gets her second or you might say first wind when she invites Maude to their home after the memorial service for S.D. Stanley and Muriel taken aback do not want to embarrass themselves yet do not want her there. Stanley in his crude way informs her that the will has nothing to do with her and she will collect nothing. Mercenary and heartless totally concerned with his  wants and needs he tends to alienate himself from anyone that does not benefit his him. Maude has no idea who her father is and neither does Evelyn as this will bond them together. Then Evelyn decides to run away with Maude and together they piece S.D.’s torn will and she enlists the help of her favorite teacher who gets then legal help in case it’s needed. Stanley has phoned the police as she ran away and is trying to cause more trouble for Maude. As the story draws to a close and the courtroom scene unfolds the author takes us up close into the mind of Stanley as we watch his dreams fall apart and the lies and deceits unfold. Just where everyone winds up and what happens in that courtroom in Saskatchewan you have to read for yourself. What does Isabel reveal in her diary at the end and what will be the final outcome be: That still remains to be revealed. Under The House: That’s where all the secrets are buried and much more. As Maude and Evelyn team up together to learn the secrets that have left them feeling isolated, alone yet becoming stronger author Leslie Hall Pinder leaves the reader wanting to learn more about this family, the women and what’s next for the Rathbones. What is Stanley’s final decision and what happens when a truth is revealed that he does not expect? Maude will always be that overprotected little girl trying to live her life without any discord. This is one book that will leave you wondering just how far will one man go to get it all.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

 

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My Life with Cancer: My review


Life with Cancer: Frank Terrazzano and Paul Lonardo

 

 

There are some people that write stories that are just superficial and deal with facts and figures. There are some that write stories and give the public what they think they want to hear and know. But, rarely do you find a reporter that delves deep within the soul of a situation and digs so deep and so far that the reader understands the inner most thoughts of not only the reporter but of those he/she is writing about. There are many stories that fledgling reporters get and try to create good stories about. But, sometimes those stories are stark, cold and just stories. From the moment she was born and could write a simple story Lauren Terrazzano could find the inner core of what a story should be. But, let’s start at the beginning or you might the say the end as Frank Terrazzano her father and Paul Lonardo takes us on a long journey back to where it all began and who she learned that she had to live her life with cancer and still go on. A special day to be remembered was her birthday March 28 and her father wanted to share with readers his special celebration of her life. As he goes to a special beach and flies a special kite that has not only her picture on it but so much more. Lauren: In Life Reached the Stars written at the top of the kite and Lauren: Love: Miss you very much. A father’s voice is heard and Lauren leaves her more than just her legacy as a reporter with everyone she leaves her love of life, her love of family and her love of reporting.

 

Lauren had many close friends growing up and many throughout her life that both authors share with the reader. Katy from an early age was her best friend and encouraged her to speak out and be heard. Many times she would shy away from events and with the friend’s encouragement she would soar. From the moment she wrote her first story as a child and created her own newspaper in her school, Lauren’s special journalistic qualities far surpassed most. Her first column and article picked up by Newsday dealt with the causes of abuses of children, the neglect by parents and the system when children were forced to go to court with their parents, unfed, poorly cared for and some just forgotten. Learning about the elderly, writing about those in homes and in facilities that neglected their patients and left them to wander on their own, Lauren made her mark and championed many causes. So, what happens when she learns her fate and how does she deal with it. With hope, fear, love and support of so many but cancer knows no boundaries and has no limits in its devastation and reprieves are few and last only a short time. Leah, Ritchie and Lauren were friends growing up and went to school together. Leah was a lifelong friend and Lauren came to her defense when she was being bullied. Deciding to share her voice with the world she created a weekly column titled Life With Cancer sharing the entire experience with her readers and endearing her to the public even more. Lauren not only wanted to be the voice of those who could not speak for themselves but she wrote about issues dealing with individual families, people and global issues. How often can a reporter get the government and the public to change their viewpoints and take action? Lauren had a way of enlisting the trust and faith of those she interviewed and would never betray it. With people she was sensitive and caring with her editors she was tough and aggressive. She loved the world of journalism and just hearing her voice and reading about her tenacity to get a story you can feel the energy that radiated in her whole body when looking to find the story that most would ignore. From the time she fell in love with a dog that was quite sick, to other stray animals she felt the need to care for you learn from the onset that she loved to help others.

 

Lauren was someone you wanted as your friend. She was loyal, caring and her friendships were lifelong. There were many that the authors share and so many that were with her when she passed. Learn as you read this memoir of her life about Jessica, Leah, Monica, Brian and many other reporters at Newsday and Robin Reisig her instructor at Columbia that not only taught her the essence of reporting but worked together with her on many stories too. Imagine being asked to become the editor of the Bronx Beat the school paper. Although she really did not want to do it she did it for Robin and brilliantly. The story that captured the hearts of many was one that focused on an apartment building with riddled with dirt, unsafe and signs that said Lead Poisoning. Imagine learning that the landlord did nothing to fix the problem and the building run by the Housing Authority went unnoticed. Lauren would not let it pass and she wrote about it. Added in her amazing changes and reforms at the Bronx Beat you know from the beginning she would make more than just a slight mark in this field. Each story she wrote was filled with her own brand of journalism and passion. So, how did a non-smoker get lung cancer? This question that might never be answered. Lauren had many mentors, friends and family but one man made a difference for a while in her life and that was Peter. He was perfect for her and then one incident; one tragedy would change it all. TWA Flight 800 left her breathless, on edge and changed. The interviews with the family members and those involved in dealing with the crash left an indelible mark on her. Lauren became more serious, more intense and more focused on her job, the story than her marriage. It was as if the story, the paper and her need to find the truth and write about it took over her life like the cancer, which riddled her body and decided her fate. Life, with Cancer, was her weekly column and she shared her daily thoughts with readers about living with the inevitable. Added in she alerts the public about the underlying dangers of smoking, the need for more funding for research for lung cancer and the many chapters the authors devoted to her quest to find out why this illness targets women, dealing with Camel and hoping that someday women and people would think twice before lighting up. Cancer is deadly and it knows no bounds, has no boundaries and is merciless and relentless in its quest to take lives. Frank Terrazzano and Paul Lonardo wrote this thought provoking, compelling and true story of one woman’s life to open the eyes of everyone to this deadly disease and share the world of someone so special that touched so many lives. Lung cancer kills more women every year than any other cancer. With a forward written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen you learn about what drove Lauren, the articles she wrote about dealing with meds, the indignities many faces and the doctors who passed the final sentence of verdict on her: 2-3 months to live. How do you deal with that?

 

The voices of her friends are shared and heard, her co-workers, the doctors and even her college professors. But, her life is like an unfinished painting, picture or portrait that never found its final strokes, final place on the wall as her life ended too fast. The power of words is amazing and as her father states: she used her words, her pen her typewriter her computer to light up the world with her thoughts and her words. Throughout the memoir the authors share her early life, her schooling, her rise to becoming a great journalist and much more. The final three years dealt with her treatment, her illness and her final moments. Added in we learn about her mother’s illness, the fact that Lauren did not always share her results or grief with her parents in order to shelter them for a while. After you read this brilliantly written memoir you will understand the journey and the struggle that many go through, understand the need for funding, and hopefully doctors, nurses and health care providers will come to grips with the fact that we need more money for research and hopefully understand the seriousness of lung cancer.

 

As you read the blog and hear her voice you smile, you cry and you laugh at her humor, feel the pain and the anger coming through and the frustration at knowing that she could only fight so much and not more. What endeared me to her even more is her blog thanking those that take care of so many: Let’s not forget the caregivers. The doctors that took care of her at Memorial Sloan Kettering and at St. Luke’s Roosevelt will remain in the hearts of her family and friends as they did everything that could possibly be done to save Lauren. Readers all over the world wanted to read her blog and learn her progress. Added in we meet a man named Al who played a short role in her life, a special co-worker named Brian and a father who never gave up, was at her side along with her mother, Ginny and whose faith in as he refers to her: My Lauren will live on forever. I want to thank Paul for asking me to read and review this book and want everyone to listen to my interview with both authors on November 1, 2012 at four eastern on the World Of Ink: This is one memoir everyone needs to read.

 

Fran Lewis Reviewer

 

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