Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Powered by Indie: Fascinating Memoirs



UntitledSome of the best independently published nonfiction out there tends to fall into two categories: memoir and self-improvement. Authors in both areas require brave hearts, genuine voices, and strong storytelling skills to stand out from a crowded field.

As part of the Powered by Indie campaign to celebrate indie works, here are four memoirs we selected that showcase excellent writing and fascinating true stories.

 

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Maude by Donna Foley Mabry - Born at the turn of the century, Maude became an orphan, wife, mother, and widow by the age of sixteen…and then things got bad. The writing is brisk and gripping, and it shines a bright light on the first half of the 20th century that chases away the shadows of nostalgia and spotlights how difficult life could be through the Depression, World War I and II, and the years afterward. Maude herself is no-nonsense and not prone to self-pity, and her core of steel is both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness. If you read and liked Hillbilly Elegy, try Maude.
 

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Guts N' Gunships by Mark Garrison - I enjoy war memoirs, and Guts 'n Gunships has everything I appreciate: a strongly-voiced but humble narrator, writing that doesn't shy from military lingo, and riveting action. And combat helicopters saw a lot of action in Vietnam. Garrison puts your feet in his boots and your hands on the cyclic stick as he decides that no matter what political hijinks are going on during the war, his personal mission in Vietnam is to get as many American soldiers home safe as he can.
 

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Auschwitz #34207: The Joe Rubinstein Story by Nancy Sprowell Geise - Quick and merciless, this memoir is like a punch to the gut as Joe relates his poor but somewhat happy childhood, the growing shadow of Jewish hatred in Poland and the flight of many Jews from the country, and finally his fate at the hands of the SS. Joe was shipped to Auschwitz, where he shoveled snow with his hands, put the bodies of his fellow Jews into wheelbarrows, was sexually abused, and barely survived. His other family members—mother, younger sister, and two brothers—were sent straight to the Treblinka death camp at which 12,000 people could be gassed every day, and were. They did not survive. This memoir is a wrenching reminder of how evil people can be to each other and is yet lightened by the helpful hands that were stretched out to Joe before and after his years in Auschwitz.
 

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Ya Sama!: Moments from My Life by Tatyana McFadden - A baby with spina bifuda is given up at birth to a Russian orphanage, but Tatyana refuses to die the way the doctors expect she will. Instead, she survives and then thrives, personally embodying the Russian phrase "Ya sama," or "I can do it myself." After being adopted by an American family, Tatyana wins a spot on the U.S. Paralympics team, but that is just the start of her athletic career. The warmth and vigor of this young woman is inspiring, as well as her determination to not be defined by what others think she cannot do.
 


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