6 Books To Dive Into in May 2021 | Books & Authors | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother's Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind

Julie Metz
Atria Books, 2021, $24.99

While going through a bureau drawer of her recently departed mother, Eve, Hudson resident Julie Metz (Perfection) finds a small keepsake book "bound in coffee-colored linen" and stamped with the word "Poesie" in faded gold ink. Inside are messages of love and farewell from childhood friends and relatives all addressed to Eva, as her nine-year-old mother was then known. The notes span from November 28, 1938 to March 24, 1940, the day before Eva and her parents left Vienna for the United States, barely escaping Nazi-occupied Austria. During the two-year span the album covers, Eva's family will lose all of their rights and "struggle against a mighty bureaucracy" for their very survival. An experience Eve had shared very little about with anyone, including her family.

The Poesiealbum "remained a vault of secrets" for Metz's mother's past and kept her wondering about what, as a young girl, Eva had experienced and how it had impacted her life. This propelled her to research and write about "the Eva she had never known" and the Eve who was her mother. The realization by Metz that her mother's childhood in Vienna was at the core of her family's history set Metz off on a 15-year journey of research and writing to capture the essence of those two terrifying years and to help her better understand who her mother, with whom she had a very difficult relationship, was.

By using historical documents, fictional conversations, imagined events, glimpses into her own relationship with her own daughter, and plenty of political commentary on the state of this country, Metz reminds us how easily history can repeat itself and how important it is to remember. The vivid accounts of her visits to Vienna, to see the apartment and factory owned by her maternal grandparents, Anna and Julius, sheds light on how Eva and her parents were able to avoid the extermination camps that was the tragic fate of so many others. The factory that Julius owned produced an intricate fan made out of 50 folded and glued paper sheets and was called a pulverkapsle into which powdered medicine would be poured into each of its 50 openings. Even though his factory had been taken from him, "The machine was so complicated that the Nazis had kept Julius alive to run it." The pulverkapsle was also believed to have been important for the distribution of the methamphetamine that was touted as a miracle product and the perfect Nazi drug. Energizing and confidence boosting, methamphetamine played into the Third Reich's obsession with physical and mental superiority and was used widely. The pulverkapsle, with its complicated yet efficient design, was the perfect vehicle for its distribution. Metz's journey to Trieste, from where the ship Saturnia sailed to take Eva and her parents to New York, is an emotional experience brought to life by the detailed description of the city and the imagining of what it might have been like in 1940. Metz shares the entries from the captain's log of the Saturnia during the 15-day journey her mother and grandparents made to New York. The mundane entries—weather, passenger numbers, mail on board—provide a good springboard for the narrative Metz interweaves bringing the perilous journey to life.

As struggling immigrants in America, the family faces many challenges but manages to flourish in New York. Eve and her husband both have extremely successful careers as designers and art directors in publishing at Simon & Schuster. As a working mother in the 1950s, Eve is a bit of an anomaly but she is remembered by many of her coworkers fondly (also as hard and tough) and with admiration for her outstanding work and creativity as a designer. One gets the sense that Metz wishes she had asked her mother more about her life and that she had been more understanding of how her mother's childhood trauma had impacted her and the whole family's history. Eve's story is also a reminder not to take people for granted or to underestimate the impact of each individual's history in the creation of who they fundamentally are.

—Jane Kinney-Denning

Kuan Yin: The Princess Who Became the Goddess of Compassion

Maya Van Der Meer

Bala Kids, $17.95, 2021

Woodstock resident Maya van der Meer writes in her children's book a spin on the ancient Chinese tale of a Buddhist sisterhood and journey to self-discovery. Princess Miao Shan––a lover of meditating with the forest creatures––is set to marry and remain in the palace by her father. She is freed from her unwanted fate by her younger sister, Ling, who helps her escape. The two embark on a journey of compassion and love––and through the trials and tribulations of their adventure, Miao Shan comes to realize her true calling as Kuan Yin––the goddess of compassion. 

We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World

Aileen Weintraub

Running Press Kids, $17.99, 2021

Stone Ridge resident Aileen Weintraub's anthology tells the inspiring stories of 35 women in sports across the globe. Some of these women include American gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, American surfer Bethany Hamilton, American snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, British wheelchair racer Hannah Cockroft, and American jockey Diane Crump. This nonfiction collection of women athlete stories encourages and motivates kids to get out there and play their hardest––no matter what is thrown their way. Weintraub's best-selling book––Never Too Young! 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference–—won a Parent's Choice Award in 2018.

Zombie Pharm

Larry Beinhart 

Independent, $8.98, 2021

Former Chronogram columnist Larry Beinhart writes a hilarious education horror story about fixing up the "problem kids" with pharmaceuticals––until the solution goes horribly wrong. At the school––Schools of Tomorrow™––the teachers, students, and staff are all medicated to make everyone Optimized™ and better than "normal." Only one person stands in the way of total disaster and mass murder—Eddie, the slacker, weed-dealing school bus driver. Beinhart is also the author of Wag the Dog and the winner of the Edgar Award. 

Make Thrift Mend

Katrina Rodabaugh
Abrams, $24.99, 2021

Germantown resident and slow-fashion influencer Katrina Rodabaugh is following her best-selling book Mending Matters with her new book on how to mend, patch, dye, and alter clothing for a more sustainable wardrobe. She walks the reader through how to repair jeans, fix up a favorite sweater, or dye some old clothes a new color to create a more environmentally friendly approach to fashion. Rodabaugh has been threading a needle her whole life, learning from her mother and her grandmother. Incorporated in her book are stories and essays encouraging readers to make a commitment to ending overconsumption and to participate in slow-fashion. "The most sustainable clothes are the ones already in your closet," Rodabaugh writes. 

The Art of Cooking with Cannabis

Tracey Medeiros
Skyhorse, $19.99, 2021

In Tracey Mederio's cookbook, there are 125 recipes featuring CBD, hemp, and THC from organic farmers, chefs, artisans, and food producers around the country. Incorporated into the book are resources for safe consumption, and profiles on the book's contributors who share the hardships and successes that have led them to experiment with the health and wellness benefits of cannabis. Some featured contributors from the Hudson Valley include Ben Banks-Dobson, Melany Dobson, and Freya Dobson of Hudson Hemp (Raw Hemp Leaf Pesto); and Josephine Proul of Local 111 in Philmont (lamb stock). The recipes are organized into categories––CBD, hemp, and THC––and explain tolerance levels and sidebar tips and guidance to make your cannabis-cooking experience enjoyable.

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