Two Very Different Books

I have just finished reading two very different books: Mark Bierman’s Vanished and Cheryl Oreglia’s Grow Damn It!


 Vanished takes place about a year after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The protagonists of this story are two Americans, Tyler Montgomery and his father-in-law John Webster.  Grieving the death of their wife and daughter respectively, they have come to the chaos and corruption of Haiti to help with the construction of an orphanage.

There they meet Mahalia, whose seven-year-old daughter, Chantale, has gone missing.

Ill equipped on many levels such as lack of medical training, the geography of the island and weak knowledge of Creole the Americans set out, through life and death situations, to find Chantale and return her to Mahalia.  

Mark Bierman shows us the reality of poverty-ridden Haiti. It is heartbreaking and tragic to read about the cruel abusive treatment of children who are sold as slaves or prostitutes for pedophile rings. Evil men in the business of child abuse as a commodity.

In their search for the seven-year-old child Mark Bierman takes us through the tunnels of a mining shaft where they believe are hidden abducted children. Normally, I am not drawn to reading adventure/thrillers but I was captivated by the suspenseful description and action in the tunnels of the mine shaft.

Other characters inhabit the novel, such as Eliana who was abducted as a young child and sold to a wealthy Dominican family until she was purchased by the evil Diego who was in the business of Child slavery.  

Vanished opened my mind to the extent of evil, greed, abuse, cruelty, torture and human trafficking that is pervasive in our society.

Underneath the strong plot of this novel is a novel about courage, strength, compassion and a deep relationship between Tyler and his step-father.

Too little attention has been placed on the plight of Haiti since the Earthquake. I congratulate Mark Bierman for tackling such a difficult subject.

If you enjoy thrillers and adventure stories, you’ll love this novel.

Check it out on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Barnes & Noble.

Unlike, Mark Bierman’s Vanished Cheryl Oreglia’s memoir Grow Damn It! is filled with lightness of spirit and many joyful moments

The collection of essays takes place during the pandemic and Cheryl Oreglia graciously invites us into her loving family; generously and unabashedly sharing with us the ups and downs of her daily life.

She writes about serious stuff, for sure, – her mother’s death, the sacredness of life, about retirement, middle age and even colonoscopies.

Through it all, her sense of humor shines:

I’ve been running at breaking speed for nearly half a century, trying to keep up with the Jones whom I barely know.

The book is written in a conversational style where she will throw in off the cuff phrases as: Don’t ask. Anyhoo. While her chapters begin with a reflective quote she also tosses in the middle of an essay an inspirational, keeping you on your toes kind of quote.

The writing is beautiful and I love how in her essay on retirement when asked what she will do she unapologetically says I am a writer.

Her writing gives hope to humanity, to kindness and doing the right thing. Something precious in our times. You only have to go through her chapter titles to know that you will be learning something encouraging. Take for example: Tough Times Don’t Last. Tough People Do… or her essay titled What Do I Really Want? – a very long list – reminded me of the simple things of life that I often take for granted.

It was inspiring to read that there are some good marriages out there. Not Cinderella perfect mind you. But solid, respectful and lasting. A marriage and family built on good moral values.

She is the kind of person I’d love to have as a neighbor.

Check it out on Amazon, Goodreads, , Barnes &Noble.