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Nancy's Notes - October 18, 2012

Jeanne Marie Laskas: “Hidden America”, Jerry McGill: “Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me”, Ben Mattlin: “Miracle Boy Grows Up”.
 Those who enjoy nonfiction will enjoy, “Hidden America” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, a correspondent for GQ. She has compiled stories about people who make our lives run everyday, and yet we barely think of them. Laskas explores life on an Alaskan oil rig, in a migrant camp, as an airport traffic controller, life on a Texas ranch, and many more occupations.
    The biographies I enjoy the most are not about the rich and famous but those about “regular” people. Jerry McGill has written “Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me”. McGill grew up in the housing projects on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980s. At thirteen he already excelled as an athlete and a dancer. All that changed when he was shot in the back as he walked home from a New year’s Eve party. The teen soon learned he would be wheel-chair bound for life. His assailant was never caught. Written as a letter to the man who shot him, whom he decides to call Marcus, the book is a reflection on his childhood, the event that changed his life, the challenges of those changes, the importance of optimism, forgiveness, and making the most of our gifts.
    Ben Mattlin is the author of “Miracle Boy Grows Up”.  Mattlin was born in New York in 1962 with spinal muscular atrophy, a congenital muscle-wasting disease which was to end his life in childhood.  His parents vowed to give him as normal a life as possible, without any restrictions. Beleiving there was nothing he couldn’t do, he not only lived through childhood, but entered Harvard as the first student in a wheelchair. Finishing school in a time when discrimination against the disabled was legal, Mattlin couldn’t find work. Eventually he became a freelance journalist, husband, and father. Mattlin came to see the growth in disability rights and found he didn’t feel disadvantaged, merely different.
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