For generations, our ancestors have overcome life’s curveballs that challenge them in ways it’s hard to imagine if you are not directly experiencing them. We have all had pandemic craziness this last year in one way or another. Three books I read reminded me that this pandemic is a challenge we couldn’t predict in life. They reflect on different obstacles faced and overcome, providing inspiration and thoughtful consideration of the actions of those before us and our own future choices.

My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food – Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
Lidia’s tales describing sun-dappled moments of her childhood through the successful entrepreneur she is today were very inspirational and moving. As a genealogist, her first-hand account of life in a refugee camp in Northern Italy was entirely gripping. So often we research on paper and recreate the voices of the past. This memoir lives, breathes, and eats in full color (of course, it’s Lydia!). I found myself comparing the patience and perseverance of her family to reach their collective goals in stark contrast to how “fast” we can obtain so much in life now.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and LoveDani Shapiro
Dani Shapiro writes about her journey from her surprise DNA test results to where she is today with the bio parent she didn’t know existed. Readily available DNA test kits have made this situation more common than you might think. Long-buried family secrets are revealed when taking a test to see your ethnicity percentages, thinking you know exactly what you are going to get back.

Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys
A riveting historical fiction novel about hope and sorrow while surviving Stalin’s camps in Siberia during World War II. Ruta’s inspiration in her own words: “During a trip to Lithuania I visited my father’s cousin and learned that after my father fled from Lithuania, some of our extended family members were deported to Siberia. I was shocked, but learned that my family’s history was not unique. There are millions of people whose lives were taken or affected during the Soviet occupation. Yet very few people know the story. I wanted to write a novel to honor the people of the Baltics and also to illustrate the power of love and patriotism.”  In 2019 a motion picture was released based on the book: Ashes in the Snow.

(Click on the title for the direct Amazon link or better yet, support your local bookstore if that is an option for you.)