"A Wealth of Family" by Thomas Brooks: Book Review

A Wealth of Family

by Thomas Brooks

Alpha Multimedia, Inc. (2006)

ISBN 0977462935

Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (6/06)

“A Wealth of Family” has something to be enjoyed or learned by people from all walks of life, no matter what your gender, socio-economic background or culture. This is a fantastic book. It centers on Brooks upbringing as an adopted black men who wanted to find his roots. I found it difficult to write this review because his story touched me in so many ways, it was hard for me to narrow down which area I enjoyed the greatest or which part of his life experiences taught me the most. In spite of our differences (gender, race, upbringing) I learned a lot about myself as I read. I admire his ability to see the positive learning experiences that come from experiencing negative situations.

Brooks was raised by a very protective, divorced black woman. They had to struggle financially. He had close extended family in his life and a wonderful male role model. In his youth, he learned that he was adopted. His birth mother was a white woman and his father was an African from Kenya. Brooks developed an interest in finding his birth family so that he could learn about his roots.

Throughout his education, Brooks had to deal with racism and poverty. He experienced racism from his friends and teachers. He attended a predominantly white school. Some of his friends would make racist comments based on ignorance without realizing that their beliefs were wrong. Brooks chose to get his revenge by excelling in academics and athletics. Then he had to deal with black-on-black prejudice by being told that he was “acting white” by his black peers.

Brooks was the first in his family to attend college. This was a whole new learning experience for him. He had to deal with the paradox of trying to show everyone that black people can excel at everything and then being accused of being boastful and arrogant when he would succeed.

After Brooks completed his education, he was contacted by his birth mother. Through her, he is able to meet his siblings in England and contact his father’s family in Kenya. After a great deal of effort, he is able to meet his birth father and extended family in Kenya. Brooks is able to connect his adoptive family, his English family and his African family. Now he truly knows his roots.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that the story did not end when he met his mother. He continues on and teaches us about the how much more his life was enriched by being able to combine his family from their different cultures.

I highly recommend this book to be used in African-American studies classes and in Cultural Counseling classes. I think that it would be great to be read in areas of underprivileged youth. Brooks showed that he could overcome all of the hardships in his life and he is actively involved in making a difference in the lives of others.

Brooks writes about how slavery has robbed African Americans of their history and culture. This often leads them to think that they are inferior. Because of his experiences he developed a perspective of himself as a “world citizen, not limited by race, religion, nationality or political ideology.” If everyone could develop this view of themselves, there would be an end to racism and we would have world peace.

"A Long Walk to Water" Book Review

Linda Sue Park helped Salva Dut share his experience as a “Lost Boy” of Sudan who returned home to build a well for his village.

Salva was eleven years old when he began the journey on foot with thousands of other children who were forced out of their villages after soldiers killed their parents. The violent reality included shootings, being eaten by lions and crocodiles, drowning and being abducted to be child soldiers.

The children traveled through Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. They lived in refugee camps for several years. Salva took interest in learning English so an aid worker taught him. Eventually as a young man, Salva was one of the group permitted to come to the United States.

After a few years in the United States, Salva received word that his father was still alive but very ill due to not having clean water. Salva began his dream of being reunited with his father and finding a way to solve the water problem. With help from many people organizing and raising funds, his dream came true.

Salva returned home and was reunited with his father. He was told his mother was still alive but it was too dangerous to travel to where she was. He only got to see his father because he was in a hospital.

Salva put together a team and drilled a well in the village. His term was that no one could be refused water. The village people had to come together for the benefit of all. Later, he began drilling wells in other villages.

The ending brought the fictional part of the story together with his true story. The fictional story was about a young Nuer girl named Nya about twenty years later who benefitted from the new well. She noticed that the man who gave them the clean water did not have tribal markings on his forehead. She assumed he was from her tribe. She asked someone and was told he was Dinka, not Nuer. She wondered why he would help them. She got up the courage to approach him and said, “Thank you for bringing us the water.”

Girls were now able to attend school because they no longer had to walk for water.

This story is precious to me because of the Sudanese young adults in my life. One is my friend and his family. The other is my daughter in law. My friend is Dinka and my daughter-in-law is Nuer. I love them both.

My friend’s dream is to build a school building for the children in his village. I want to help him. We will need a lot of help. I’m sure each one of the “Lost Boys” have dreams. Although telling their stories is painful, one by one, we can help them build a brighter future for the next generation.

Book Review of "A Heart for Freedom"

Chai Ling shares her story in “A Heart for Freedom”. She has a first hand account to the abortion issue in China. Her cause is worth one supporting. You may have more in common than you think.

I would never have thought that I would have anything in common with someone who has gone through unimaginable hardships in another country. As I read her story and thoughts, I saw some similarities and alignment with my views that made me feel like I could share something with others from different backgrounds.

Chai was one of the students involved in the Tiananmen Square incident. She escaped and built a new life in America. In China as a young woman, she had troubled relationships and four abortions.

Chai accepted Christ but had to help friends understand that when witnessing to Chinese women about abortions, they needed to refrain from telling the women to confess their sins and just let them know they are loved. She went on to say that we need to do the same in America and for anyone we are trying to witness to. I agreed with that.

A similarity I felt was in her struggle finishing her story. She attempted to write it twenty years ago but was unable to finish it. Something was holding her back. Once she fully went through the healing process, she was able to finish it. That is something I think many writers go through.

At the end of the book, she shared an email she had received from a friend about an image of Jesus being with them. It was similar to a poem I had written about fifteen years ago.

Although her’s was an experience different from ours, as humans here are some common shared experiences by people in general: Many young women have dating difficulties, many women have abortions, many refugees have emotional struggles when coming to a new country, many Christians with good intentions, can be insensitive at times when attempting to share the Gospel. Many people are searching but don’t know exactly what they are searching for. Many authors have difficulty completing their stories.

Jesus finds us where we are at. Grace is for us all. Healing can take many years. We all have something to offer.

My story may not be the same but I can reach out to others in my every day life and help in small ways that mean so much. We never know the impact we have on others.