In the past week or so, I read two great books: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. Both of these books are typically not the type of book I read. I ventured out of my comfort zone because I felt like I had read so many books over the summer and couldn’t find anything good at the library (Pretty Little Liars is pretty hard to live up to.)
When school started, I had to get my act together and pick a book to read in my free time for English class. So, I looked through my teachers small “library” and after plenty of arguing, she suggested I read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. She said it was one of those books you have to read before you die, and that I might as well get it over with. Get it over with, indeed. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that Maya Angelou is a very talented poet, author and singer. But, I just had a tough time getting through this book. It was slow to start, was written in annoying Southern drawl and had some pretty weird content. Also, much of the stories were inappropriate and sent the wrong message to young girls. And, as much as I appreciate Maya Angelou’s honesty, she gives the impression that she is racist herself. Some of the stereotypes and rude things she said about her past and present opinion of white people (and anyone who’s not black) made me want to punch her in the face (But, violence is never the answer. Oh, and Maya has a few stories against that moral to share, too.) The only positive thing I have to say about the book is that there were a few funny childhood memories.
Onto a much better, and VERY different book. Most recently, I read Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. Zeitoun is about a man named Zeitoun and his family. Zeitoun is a Syrian immigrant and a devout Muslim who works as a builder in New Orleans. He decides to stay in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina is on the way, to keep an eye on his properties. He has no idea how bad the storm will be, or the aftermath. He eventually ends up in prison with a looting charge. ( Arrested in his friend’s house. People were even arrested in their own homes for “taking” their own stuff.) He later finds out that he is being investigated as a terrorist, simply because of the government’s panic and vulnerability from the natural disaster. He has no criminal record, has lived in the U.S. for years, and has many neighbors, clients and friends vouching for him. But, they cancel his hearing, lose his files, don’t read him his rights, don’t allow him a phone call from prison, don’t allow him to post bail and even feed him pork at every meal and make fun of his religion if he asks for something else to eat. He is stripped for drugs weekly and declined medical care for his kidney and infected foot. He is in this maximum security prison for a whole month. When he finally gets out with the help of his lawyer, he has to pay $75,000 when he stole nothing and hurt no one. The entire time he was in New Orleans, he helped his neighbors evacuate, fed left-behind dogs and passed out his own water and food to other victims. The whole U.S. Judicial System, government, police and military were corrupt. And the worst part is: It’s a true story. Many times I had to stop throughout the book and remind myself that this really happened. This family told Eggers their story. I can’t believe our country got that close to being an anarchy. This book made a HUGE impact in my life by making me think of Hurricane Katrina as more than just a natural disaster, change my opinion on the Bush Administration and makes me so angry. Seriously, I would set down this book and be so infuriated that I’d walk around all tense and stressed. I truly believe that as many people as possible need to read- and reread this novel. Dave Egger’s Zeitoun is most definitely life-changing!