Charles Creath McCormack’s book Hatching Charlie: A Psychotherapist’s Tale is quite a book: a frank autobiography centered around the theme of the pursuit of happiness and a meaningful life, from a man who has sat both on and beside the psychotherapy couch; or as the author himself describes it, “a story of the follies and wisdom’s of the human condition”. Mr. McCormack is fully aware of both the theories and the realities of mental health, although the book contains no technical language at all. It’s an accessible account covering every stage of his life, from his youngest years into his partial retirement. Not to give too much away, but as the imagery of the title implies, his tale starts in darkness, and concludes with a breakthrough, with all the usual human drama of a life lived fully.
I found the style of writing very interesting; it perhaps relates to his experience as a psychotherapist. He makes use of imagery, not frequently, but when he does it’s usually a long, in-depth passage. Thankfully they don’t feel convoluted, because they exemplify his points well.
The imagery adds well to the overall narrative, which is compelling. If I’d had more time, I’d probably have read it in one sitting. Although the author references forward and back to events distant by dozens of years and pages, I was never left feeling confused or lost, so it was neatly accomplished. There was a clear sense of reflection as to what the reader may be thinking, and at points it almost felt like I was part of a conversation. However, I thought that near the end the narrative became a little unfocused, with some unnecessary repetition and description of his family that doesn’t always feel directly related to his main subject – his state of mind.
I want to describe it as a generous story, because I was given extremely honest details about Mr. McCormack’s life that many would have found embarrassing to tell. But he hides no faults or uncomfortable thoughts, and constantly admits when he was wrong. In one chapter the author relates the unfortunate stories of some of his patients. In this way, the book truly covers the full gamut of human experience – warmth, love, friendship, loneliness, unhappiness, violence, despair: life and death.
Despite the author’s wishes that we might take responsibility for our happiness, his book is not a manual for how to obtain it. Observant readers might pluck helpful wisdom from its pages, but this isn’t written as advice – just as he says he does with his patients, he places no obligation on us to try it.
Overall, I would recommend this to any adult reader who is willing to confront life’s uncomfortable truths and those who enjoy a fly-on-the-wall tale of other’s joys and sorrows. I enjoyed trip.
Pages: 373 | ASIN: B06XFG5G3M
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Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. What inspiration did you find in this book that made you want to publish an annotated scholarly edition?
I am certain that most of my admiration stems from my appreciation for Horace, the African American southern woman writer, who remained true to her commitment to write “creatively but constructively.” Before I began conducting research on Horace and her writings, she and the archival material treating her life and works were largely overlooked by scholars.
The protagonists she created all exemplify the kind of determination that Horace herself demonstrated throughout her life.
I wanted to create an annotated scholarly edition to help Angie Brown find its way into the literary canon, where students and scholars of African American literature could weigh in on its value.
Angie Brown is a strong women that is finding her path through troubled times. What are some things you admire about her character?
I admire Angie’s determination, practicality, openness to learning, friendly nature, and commitment to progress.
What kind of research did you do for this novel and Lillian Jones Horace?
I conducted extensive archival research to better understand Horace and the characters she created. A comprehensive list of the repositories I visited appears in my first book-length publication on Horace titled, Recovering Five Generations Hence: The Life and Writing of Lillian Jones Horace (2013). I have been researching and writing about Horace since 2003. Her papers are held in the Fort Worth Public Library, Fort Worth, TX.
I understand you contacted some of the Horace family for this book. What were their reactions to you pursuing this 100 year old story?
I contacted her niece and two of her great nieces. Her great niece, who remembered her well, knew that Lillian Horace was a respected educator, but she had no idea that Horace had written two historic novels. Most of what I shared with her and other family members about Lillian Horace was new to them.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes. I am working on an edited version of Lillian Horace’s diary, and a book project comparing and contracting the trajectory of Horace’s life and works to those of her younger and more popular southern African American contemporary, Zora Neale Hurston.
“Angie Brown is a romance migration novel set in the Jim Crow era. Angie, the protagonist, determines to embrace all life has to offer despite the social restrictions facing young black southern women like her. Angie holds fast to her desire to find financial success, personal fulfillment, and true love, but she does not achieve her dreams alone, nor do they unfold in the same place. From Belle, her confidant; to Betty Yates, the teacher; to Chester, the pool hall owner; women and men from various social stations in life and different places share nuggets of wisdom with Angie. With their love and support, she overcomes tragedy, welcomes fresh possibilities, climbs the social ladder, and opens her heart to love. Angie’s progressive journey reflects the migratory trek of many African American Southerners of the Jim Crow era, who left the South for greater educational and economic opportunity. Her quest leads her from a small segregated community to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and eventually to the Midwest, including St. Louis, Missouri, Chicago, and Southern Illinois. As Angie travels from place to place, she gradually comes into her own and learns key life lessons. Angie learns that struggle is universal. While doing domestic work, she discovers that whites, who live on “The Other Side,” also experience pain, suffering, and grave disappointment. Love eludes white women, too, and they, too, face gender discrimination. Having overcome her fair share of personal losses, Angie reaches across racial lines to console Gloria, a member of the Parker family, for whom Angie does domestic work. Her experience with the Parker’s is juxtaposed to her dealings with the Mungers, a rich, Northern white family she meets. Although the Mungers are kind to Angie, she learns that life beyond the South is not perfect. Yes, she and other blacks face less virulent forms of racism outside the South, but economic stability and educational opportunity are not easily achieved.”
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Proud American is a biography about your journey through life in South Texas; from migrant worker to US solider and then US Border Patrol agent. What was the inspiration behind creating such a thoughtful memoir of your life?
My mother passed away in the summer of 2015. After her passing, I fell into a depression because I felt truly alone in the world. Being the only child of a single parent can do that to a person. I had my wife and kids with me but I still felt utterly alone, and I couldn’t shake it off.
My wife kept pushing me to discuss my thoughts and feelings, but I could not muster up the strength. I didn’t know how to discuss what I was experiencing. My wife suggested that I write my feelings down. For years, my wife has been telling me that she believes I’m a good writer. For years, I’ve been ignoring her compliments.
One night after dinner, she brought a letter to me. She handed me a piece of paper and asked me to open it. When I did, I saw that it was a letter I had written to her eight years ago. Eight years ago was when my wife and I first started dating, and one night she asked me over the phone, why I had joined the Army. I wrote her a letter and poured everything out on paper. It opened up the floodgates for me. That letter is now the first chapter of my book.
Do you remember what your idea of ‘America’ was as a child?
Because I began working at the age of seven, my idea of ‘America’ was that of tough living. It is hard for one to realize so young that his or her childhood is nothing like that of other kids. We were dirt poor and I had the full workload of an adult at the age of ten.
In time though, everything around me was a constant reminder of what else was possible in ‘America’. I knew there were better ways to make a living. At such a young age, I wanted to learn how to pursue my thoughts or dreams of a better life. I didn’t have time to dream of the next best toy or fun activity. I spent all my childhood dreaming and thinking of how to break my family cycle of picking crops for a living.
How did your outlook of ‘America’ change after your time in the US Army?
I must say that in many ways, the Army actually spoiled me. Although it increased my awareness of the harshness of life and the many challenges that it can impose on a person, it also continued to show me all the many possibilities available should one choose to work hard to achieve a desired goal. This only enhanced what I already believed as a kid. More so, I also learned of all the harsh realities of life and how people in other countries are in a far worse state than most of us here can ever possibly imagine or understand. I knew, after my military service, that we lived in the greatest country in the world. Even with all our faults and deficiencies, there is no comparison.
Being the son of a Mexican immigrant, was it hard for you to decide to become an agent in the US Border Patrol?
My decision to join the US Border Patrol was actually a fairly easy one. I was looking for something that would allow me to continue my government service. It’s important to note that my grandfather had never talked to us about his encounters with the US Border Patrol and thus played no role in my decision.
It wasn’t until after I had become an agent that I realized how my decision had impacted the entire family. It was a strange feeling and continues to be a delicate subject since I still have family that lives in Mexico and have not been able to visit them because of the dangers a visit from me would pose on them and even on me. With the violent cartel threat just across the border, it will be years before I can see my family again.
What is one stereotype that you think many Americans have of Mexican immigrants?
At this point in time, immigration has become a great issue for our country. With that said, the moment one begins to speak about immigration it is quickly considered to be a topic of Mexican immigrants and the ‘negative’ impact they have on our society.
I am an American Citizen by birth, but I do come from a Mexican Immigrant family and am now a Border Patrol Agent. I have to deal with criminals from every background one can possibly think of. As a federal agent, I don’t merely deal with immigration issues. I also deal with the issue of human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. In essence, I’m caught in the middle of the transaction.
I say this because in any transaction, there is a person providing a product and a person purchasing or demanding that product. I have to process undocumented individuals for deportation while at the same time prosecute the US Citizens that are committing the trafficking.
What role do you feel Mexican-Americans play in bridging the gap between these two countries?
I think we must all play the role of actual educators by way of providing facts and not opinions or emotional outbursts. I wrote a story in the book of an incident that happened to me while on the job as a Border Patrol Agent. The gentleman I encountered truly believed that he was above me simply because of my appearance and name tag. I chose to educate him and not escalate the situation with an emotional outburst. After that interaction, I earned the gentleman’s respect and he earned mine by showing me that he had learned the error in his thinking.
I’m a combat veteran who now has to deport people of my own Mexican Nationality because I have chosen to continue serving my country, the United States of America. And yet, I still have to educate people every single day of my patriotism and the struggles I’ve had to overcome in order to achieve the stability I now have.
Education is key.
“Being the only child of a single mother, Sergio was raised by his maternal grandparents in a South Texas region better known as the Rio Grande Valley. This memoir details the upbringing of a poor Migrant worker of Mexican descent having to pick crops for a living since the age of seven. As a way to break from the family cycle of picking crops and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served ten years active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing ten years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent, having family in south Texas, and in Mexico gave way to new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.””
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Our tale centers around the life of one woman, Angie Brown, as she struggles to live and love in an unforgiving world. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance was originally written by Lillian Jones Horace 68 years ago. Angie Brown is a window to the past: a look at what life was like for black people during the Jim Crow era. It opens with heartbreak as Angie is denied medical care for her ailing child. Angie is at a disadvantage for her entire life simply for being black. Her child is black. Therefore, they are treated as less than second-class citizens. The beginning of Angie’s heartbreak occurred before that moment, but is amplified as her child dies in her arms: denied a potentially life-saving treatment solely based on the color of his skin.
Many books about this subject can feel like textbooks, but this book is beautiful and heartfelt. Wrapped up in an emotional love story, Angie Brown will teach its readers about life from the point of view of a young woman. She has loved, she has lost both her husband, Jim, and her son. She finds herself abandoned with no way to return home. Her religious mother has forsaken her and Angie must persevere if she wants to survive. Through her sorrow and her uncertainty Angie rises above the hand that life has dealt her. She works her hardest to become someone she can deem as worthy.
While there is activism in this book on Angie’s part, it doesn’t overshadow the romance. It is important to understand that Angie is not going to take her fate lying down. As she learns and exposes herself to the world she begins to understand that she can make a difference if she wants to. Her eyes are opened to the trappings of the world and she realizes that someone must stand up for the young black children who are disadvantaged solely because of their skin color. Described with powerful words the reader may feel as though they are there as Angie involves herself with politics and does her best to support Roosevelt in his bid for president. He desires to be a president for all people, something that Angie believes in.
Angie loves. She loses and she finds herself in sorrow. She sees the disgusting side of the world and she sees the beauty in it as well. She builds herself up from the timid young girl to the successful woman at the end of our tale. Angie Brown, A Jim Crow Romance by Lillian Jones Horace will show readers the beauty and agony of love against the backdrop of a time where injustice was rampant in the South. There are reading comprehension questions at the end of the book which make this an excellent selection for further classroom reading or even as an addition to a book club roster. The romance is beautiful in this tale but the underlying message is just as important. Whether you’re reading for fun or reading to learn more, you will not be disappointed with this book. Even though so much time has passed, this timeless piece remains poignant and elegant.
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In a charming, short, non-fiction tale we read about the struggles one man has had in terms of understanding and becoming a father. Fathering the Fatherless is written by Todd Johnson who tells us his experience growing up in a fatherless home. He recounts how this impacted his life and shaped the decisions he has made. It is clear that this is a topic that has affected Johnson greatly as he attempts to convey how his life was damaged by not having a father present in his life. Johnson shares statistics regarding fatherless homes and lays out the potential damage that can be done with such a significant absence. Johnson details how he found God and in that Father he was able to come to understand what it truly means to lead and care for children.
The book is a short read and is written very earnestly. Johnson speaks from his personal point of view and lays out his argument that fatherless homes are becoming an epidemic in the United States of America. This is an issue he strongly believes in and he uses quotes from the scripture to remind readers what a father should truly be like. By sharing intimate details of his life Johnson creates a connection with his readers. We learn about his struggles, his poor decisions and the choices he has made in order to better himself. Johnson grew up in a fatherless home and almost inflicted that same pain on his own children. He details how finding God helped him see the potential he was wasting. It is clear that this is Johnson’s mission: his purpose is to enlighten others of their misguided ways and show them a path towards true fatherhood. All he wishes for is a world where children are cared for and loved by their emotionally and physically present mothers and fathers.
While the basis of this book is endearing, the execution needs work. A multitude of spelling mistakes break up poor grammar and fractured sentences. At times it can be difficult to follow what the author is trying to get across to his readers. Statistics are used to support certain points of view, however they’re not referenced properly, which makes it difficult to separate the statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the statistics provided by other sources. This book would greatly benefit from an editor and proofreader. It has a specific point it wishes to share with others, but that gets lost in the poor execution of writing and style.
If you are looking for an endearing, non-fiction read about how fatherlessness has been affecting children in the world, then Fathering the Fatherless by Todd Johnson is a short and sweet read. By seeing past the short-comings the reader can see how much care Johnson has put in to crafting his tale that reads more like an academic paper. At the end of the book there is a delightful interactive section that can help readers identify what fatherlessness is and how it can be addressed. There’s a little bit of something for everyone.
Pages: 60 | ASIN: B06XGHGDT7
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This collective memoir recounts the history of Sergio Tinoco, a migrant worker born in the USA accidentally, and his life as he maneuvers the complicated world of privileges and adventures. The storytelling is light and intuitive, offering a beautiful insight to the world of a maturing American trapped within a completely different frame-of-mind within his grandparents, who had raised him. As the years progress through Tinoco’s smooth narrative you see how his growth manifests in impressive ways as he joins the army and continues his life as a strong individual and proud American.
A tough beginning gives Sergio a critical and unique insight to the world that is clearly delivered through the narrative of the story, which is a tale about the author’s own beginnings and his growth into an adult. He was born into an immigrant family, having to be raised by his grandparents who were located in the US instead of his biological mother who was stuck in Mexico.
One aspect that is heavily played into in the beginning of the story is the itching desire to escape your hometown, your family, and reach a greater place. Most kids and teenagers feel this way, I believe, despite what kind of upbringing they had. It’s inspiring to read how that path opens up for a young soldier with such a rich background.
Fear and ambition is a common element in the history of Sergio, and the way he writes really draws readers in and lets them experience the emotions he feels during the twists and turns of his life. There are not many other characters aside from the storyteller, just brief occurrences of names and influences as years pass by in a beautiful trail of words and imagery. The narrative is quite similar to how our real lives unfold, full of minor characters and events that help mold and craft us into the people we stand as today. The same is true for Sergio, and the story is patriotic and full of struggles and achievements that you can share in while reading.
Every few pages readers are treated with an image of the author, sometimes accompanied by other family members and friends, or just of an action he has told us about. It’s a great way to connect with his audience and it really helped me get a picture of the life he lived and how it affected him.
Since I didn’t have an upbringing or lifestyle even remotely close to what Sergio’s environment, it was very interesting to read about, and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about things foreign to me. The writing was thought-provoking, and I enjoyed the little instances of humor that were thrown in. Seeing the evolution of Sergio and his mindset over the years as he thinks back was a really enjoyable read, and I loved the way he painted vivid images and made me understand how his mind worked. A truly beautiful story.
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Paradoxical: What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married, by Richard Homawoo, is a book that is summed up by the title. The author gives the exact tools and techniques that anyone, who is hoping for an honest authentic relationship, can use. Homawoo goes chapter by chapter unpacking his title and gives the readers easy morsels of information to digest, while also sharing his experience and knowledge of marriage and relationships. He covers the whole spectrum from knowing “yourself” to knowing what works within a relationship. He does this while still maintaining a very conversational tone, unpacking any jargon or other complicated terminology as it comes up. Overall, it comes across as an accessible book for anyone with passing interest in love.
What struck me first with this book, is how upfront Homawoo is with himself and why he chose to write on this topic. Love is often a complicated and complex thing to understand, especially in the context of marriage, yet here he has managed to simplify it enough to contain it within 200 pages. His writing is very clear and his roadmap is easy to follow as he goes from topic to topic.
Being recently married, I found some of the subject matter rather self-explanatory, if not obvious, but then Homawoo clearly aims to give this book to those who have yet to fall in love and experience it. His approaches to the various topics of compatibility and working with your partner are practical without any hiding the often “messy” reality. He maintains a very honest tone, especially with describing how love can feel at the outset, but also after the “honeymoon” phase as well. Love is no picnic!
Despite Homawoo’s own admittance that he is a shareologist not a therapist or counselor, I appreciated his incorporation of other writers and thinkers, such as Freud and Socrates. If nothing else these earlier thinkers help engage those readers, who may be seeking supplemental reading and could pursue those writers after reading Homawoo’s. It was one feeling I did receive from reading this book, which is that it felt like an introduction. He does mean this book for young couples and those just beginning to understand the often “paradoxical” nature of love and what that entails.
The best piece of advice, for even a seasoned “lover”, was his tips for managing certain aspects of the relationship. These aspects include stress, decision, and conflict management. I believe I’d heard of such things in the past, but Homawoo is able to explain them in a succinct and linked way that makes it part of a greater whole. I would say that most of this is connected to a greater whole, because it is love after all.
I’d recommend this book for high schoolers and college students, especially those in serious relationships. It would even be a good read for those of us in long term relationships, because it is always nice to have a reminder.
Pages: 226 | ASIN: B01NBJ68R9
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Kiss Billie for Me, written by Jeanette Gray is a true story based on the trials and tribulations of William Edward Pedder “Billie”, and a secret that he took to his grave. The story begins in 1929 where his mother, Betty Trainer is embarking on a journey of a lifetime. Headed to Australia, Betty soon finds herself quickly embracing a new life with a husband and new family. However, Betty’s new life full of sunshine is soon hit with a terrible storm as she begins to deal with an alcoholic husband and postnatal depression which ultimately leads to decisions that will affect generations to come.
Kiss Billie for Me is a novel that will touch the hearts and soul of every reader. Based on a true story, Kiss Billie for Me focuses on topics such as mental health, family and the importance of understanding the stigma surrounding postnatal depression. The reader will be able to easily imagine life back in 1929 right up until the present day as the storyteller describes scenes from rickety boats to dancing in bars.
Kiss Billie for Me begins in 1929 with a beautiful young woman. Betty Trainer. Betty embarks on an adventure to seek an exciting new life in Australia and after meeting a charming young man, she begins her own little family. However, the lack of family support and loneliness soon creates a recipe for tragedy as Betty develops postnatal depression after having her first son. The story is an emotional roller coaster but provokes conversations around postnatal depression and the reader will find themselves empathizing with people they least expect.
Even though this story is true, it still has surprise twists and turns that will leave the reader breathless and in shock. The unexpected events that occur will leave your mind reeling and you will have to continually remind yourself that this is a true story. I enjoyed the progression of the character “Billie” as you learn about his life and the people within his family circle. Tragedy seems to be a common denominator within this family however their ability to soldier on and find the beautiful side of life is commendable.
I appreciate Jeanette Gray’s ability to be respectful and honest in the recounts of her family’s history. Postnatal depression affects many women and Kiss Billie for Me shows the importance of providing the right type of care and assistance- as the dire consequences can affect generations to come. At times the themes were quite intense and emotive- especially knowing that this was a true story that someone had personally lived.
I can honestly say I feel like a better person for reading this story. It has made me appreciate my life and put in perspective how important relationships and support is within a family unit. I highly commend Jeanette Gray for sharing her story. As I was reading this novel I began to consider my own family history and the impact of people’s decisions and because of this I would recommend this novel to absolutely everyone!
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B01N7TFFDF
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High Functioning Alcoholism: Live it Sober by Gray Nomad is a non-fiction book on how to recognize high-functioning alcoholism in yourself or someone else. There is also a short fiction piece with the purpose of illustrating how widespread high-functioning alcoholism is within people. The piece shows anyone, of any status, can be a high-functioning alcoholic. The book also contains some tips on managing high-functioning alcoholism. Nomad stresses the importance of seeking professional help if you suspect an alcohol issue and the importance of education. Furthermore, the book provides concrete examples of high-profile people who had issues with high-functioning alcoholism.
This book is an informational introspective work. The short story produced by Nomad unquestionably opens your eyes on who could have a high-functioning alcoholism issue. The book is short, about 40 pages, and it’s all focused on education and awareness regarding the safety and hazards of consuming alcohol. What I enjoyed most about this work is that it gives examples of how to safely enjoy alcohol.
One of the more important aspects I got out of the book was the author’s mention of talking with children and teaching them about alcoholism at a young age. Teaching is a type of intervention, which is an essential part of preventing future issues. Conversations about sensitive and taboo topics like this one are crucial, which is why a book like this is great. Nomad uses their knowledge of the health science field and their personal experience to bring you in.
There are a few grammatical issues that could use some polishing. However, it does not take away from the overall message or enjoyment of the book. The book is well written and informative which left me wanting more after 40 short pages. It’s informative and interesting. However, I think more information and a more in-depth look at the case study could increase awareness on the topic. I believe it would give more potency if there were more details, especially with high profile cases and the case study.
Overall, this book was enjoyable. It is a quick, compelling read. The purpose is to “wake up” someone to the dangers of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and it does just that. There is good, solid advice on not only how to recognize the dangers of alcohol consumption but also tips on managing high-functioning alcohol issues, the importance of educating others and talking about this subject, and the importance of talking to professionals.
After reading this book I had to reflect on my own life to see if I was a high functioning alcoholic! I did have a glass of wine last night. Oh no! (You’ll be happy to know that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not. Thanks Gray Nomad!)
I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to know more about alcoholism. As a person who is concerned with people’s health, this is a good read. It gives you a glance into the world of alcohol abuse and how it is more pervasive than one might think. Nomad makes a significant contribution to health services and humanity.
Pages: 39 | ASIN: B01N95RT4E
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The Hungry Monster Book Awards are given to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart
Sir Princess Petra’s Mission by Diane Mae Robinson
Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.
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