Monday, January 30, 2006

A Helping Hand

I have a good friend who has a good friend who is in need. Her name is Ellen Ubani Hiltebrand and she is a mother of two young beautiful babies who happens to be married to an alcoholic and getting a divorce. She also happens to be an author. Her book, When I was Elena, is being published soon. It is her fervent hope that this book will sustain her young family financially as she embarks on her new life as a single mother. Apparently, child support will be meager at best. I'm told that Ellen has been a SAHM with her babies, but will now be required to support her family.

Ellen was in the Peace Corps in the early 90's for 2.5 years. The book, When I was Elena, is a memoir of that time and her experiences in Guatemala.
Some early reviews have come in for the book, and they are glowing:

"When I Was Elena is a powerful and passionate memoir by a gutsy stranger in a troubled land. You will weep for Guatemala and be deeply moved by its women's voices as the author stuggles to understand adn then to be loving and strong and helpful in an impossible situation. This is a very rich and disturbing tapestry that I hope will make you think about life outside of our privileged bailiwick in those lands where most of the planet's citizens live" - John Nichols, author of The Milagro Beanfield War

Women's stories so need to be shared, particularly women's hero stories, and that is what When I Was Elena is. We need authors who give us our wings; Ellen, as Elena, give women the notion to take flight. She is a brave and gifted writer with a grand story to tell." - Susan Chernak McElroy, author of All My Relations

When I Was Elena
is an extraordinary account of a young American woman's sojourn in the guerrilla-infested mountains of Guatemala. Shattering the concept of a typical memoir, the author's personal story is interlaced, chapter-for-chapter, with tales told from the perspectives of seven indigenous women she encountered during her journey. At once a coming-of-age adventure and a haunting history of the struggle to overcome oppression - both personal and cultural - this genre-breaching work heralds the arrival of a daring new talent in American literature.

At age 22, Ellen Urbani Hiltebrand left behind a classic Middle America upbringing, moving from a Southern sorority house into a scorpion-infested mud hut in order to live, work, and immerse herself in the culture of Guatemala's poorest villagers. There she encountered seven local women - among them the wife of a political martyr, a twelve-year-old incest victim, and an escapee from house arrest - whose experiences unexpectedly illuminated her own. Told with unflinching honesty, disarming humor, and an astonishing ear for dialect, this is a work of such atmospheric accuracy that the scent of fire-roasted tortillas virtually wafts from the pages as this tiny country - and the women who occupy it - bursts to life.

A paean to friendship and the resilience it lends to the human spirit, When I Was Elena joins a host of disparate voices into a composite of masterful storytelling. It echoes as a work of singular achievement.

Sounds good, doesn't it? If you think so, too, you can do much to help this author, a friend of my friend, by buying her book. If you're part of a book club, please suggest it as a book to read collectively. You can read more about the author as well as this fascinating book at her website. Please, do yourself a favor and buy the book (just over $18 for hardcover here), while at the same time helping out a fellow writer. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

how dare you refer to a man that you clearly don't know as an "alcoholic"?
I know him and he is no such thing. BELIEVE YOU ME, this is libelous and LAME. Find another way to express yourself (if that's what you call these vapid ramblings)
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