Life-Changing & Inspirational Books

Cherishing Motherhood & Family- (December 22th 2023) 

In her captivating story Stay With Me, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ depicted the life of a Nigerian couple during a time of unrest in Nigeria, between 1985 and 2008 in the cities of Ilesa and Jos. The author beautifully portrayed the struggles that Yejide faced to have a baby, and the spread of violence, theft, and corruption in the country during the military coup in 1986.

Yejide was the love of life of Akin who had been married for a few years without having a baby. They met at the university and dated for a while before getting married! His mom took Yejide to every warlock to get her pregnant, but with no success. Yejide had no one in this life except Akin since she lost her mom while giving birth to her. Sadly, Yejide’s dad kept reminding her of this information every now and then, which made her feel guilty about her birth. Even Yejide's 4 stepmothers and their sons and daughters stood away from her during her dad’s funeral, making her feel lonelier!

Yejide, who owned a beauty salon and joined her husband in paying their duplex's rent, failed to have a baby. So Akin's mom brought him another woman, Funmi, as a second wife to give him a baby, which is believed to make Yejide's womb ready to have a baby! Yet, one day Yejide was seduced by Akin’s brother, Dotun. And so after a few weeks, Yejide discovered that she was pregnant. Yejide and Akin had a beautiful baby girl named Olamide, which means success and wealth.

The naming ceremony of Olamide was celebrated by drinking too much alcohol and giving Olamide 20 names! Shockingly after the ceremony, the drunk Funmi faced Akin telling him that after sleeping with him she knew that he was impotent and couldn’t have babies. She also added that Yejide was naïve to think that her inability to have babies was due to a problem in her! This confession had angered Akin! So he fatally pushed Funmi of the stairs. Yet everybody thought that Funmi slipped off the stairs and fell into her death!

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Olamide died in her sleep. This of course devastated Akin, Yejide, and Akin's mom. Yejide also felt guilty and even told her husband that probably she wasn't fit to be a mom since she lost her child due to not being vigilant enough! After Olamide's death, Dotun made love to Yejide that resulted in having Sesan (means God has avenged me). Sadly, this boy died when he was about 4 years old due to suffering from sickle cell anemia. The doctor told Akin that his wife was cheating on him because to be a sickler, both parents must have the gene of sickle cell anemia whether the gene was dominant or recessive! So Akin acted that he would kill his wife. However, after sitting in his car he remembered his agreement with his brother to seduce Yejide and get her pregnant because he was impotent, and that he wanted to have 4 children.

One evening and while Yejide was crying blaming herself for causing her son’s death due to having her bad genes, Dotun comforted her and eventually had sex with her! The following year she had a girl called Rotimi, which means stay with me. After her 3rd delivery and losing 2 children, Yejide surrendered to her destiny esp. after the diagnosis of Rotimi with sickle cell anemia! She also discovered that Akin was lying to her. Dotun told her what his brother asked him to do, thinking that Akin told Yejide about their agreement! This was the only way to convince Dotun to sleep with Yejide, because Dotun had a hard time agreeing to Akin's scheme.

So Yejide moved out of her husband's room to another room. She took care of her baby throughout the day and gave the responsibility to Akin at night. She also waited for him to come and tell her the truth; his betrayal and lies! Yejide was like an officer who knew the truth but waited for her man's confession! Yet the confession came too late. It was while Dotun was having sex with Yejide, at which Akin attacked and hit his brother brutally saying that he should not have done this, esp. after asking him to cancel the agreement after discovering that Rotimi was sick too! He shouldn't have had sex with his wife without Akin's approval! At this moment, Yejide was enraged and disgusted with her husband. She yelled at him that he wasn't the man she loved and married! He was someone she didn’t know! And how could he deceive her, and use her like an object he owned! She also tried to stop their fight that resulted in the hospitalization of Dotun.

Eventually, Yejide left her husband and Rotimi, and moved to Jos! Her decision was based on believing that she would lose Rotimi too! She couldn't handle losing another child, because she tolerated and fought too much, and Olamide and Sesan took a part of her when they died!

After over a decade, Yejide received a letter from Akin inviting her to his dad's funeral. So she traveled to Ilesa to attend the funeral, during which she was shocked to see a teenage girl that looked like her and only had her dad's nose. It was Rotimi! She was alive and changed her name to Timi! So Yejide approached Akin and asked him why he didn't tell her that she survived! He answered that he thought that she was fed up with him. He also added that his daughter too wasn't sure if her mom (Yejide) wanted her or no! They wrote numerous letters to Yejide, which Rotimi tore later, fearing her mom’s rejection!!

   This tale highlighted the political unrest and cancelation of elections in Nigeria in the 80s and 90s. These years were characterized by violence and killing anyone who criticizes the head of state or the government, by mailing a bomb to their house, or sending thieves from the military or police department. Adébáyọ̀ also depicted the spread of fear among Nigerians after murdering 3 members of the National Youth Service Corps, and how the army started shooting at college students who went out in a march that denounced killing the corpers. She also mentioned the numerous coup d'états lead by leaders including Buhari and Babangida that destabilized the country. The situation in Nigeria turned into banana republic, which was divided into numerous states in the northern part of the country.

Additionally, the author described the pressure exerted on women to have babies but not on men since women are the ones who get pregnant and not men! This was seen in the role of Akin's mom in getting Akin a second wife, which caused Yejide to suffer mentally, and even experiencing pseudocyesis. Moreover, a Nigerian man can have another wife (or wives) to have children. A second wife means that there is something wrong with the first wife, either she couldn't fulfill her household duties or was impotent! This book also portrayed how women resorted to witchcraft and necromancers to get pregnant, ignoring the role of God and science or doctors! The tale also stressed on the value of the first boy to mothers who must have a job, get married, have kids, and be a good orator. This is why Akin's mom got him another wife because she wanted to see the children of her first born before she dies! This is noticed in the words of Akin's mom to Yejide ‘Have you ever seen God in a labour room giving birth to a child? … Women manufacture children and if you can’t you are just a man. Nobody should call you a woman'.

Adébáyọ̀ described the restlessness, emptiness, anger, and misery that Yejide went through after losing her first and later her second child, as well as felt guilty for outliving her children! The writer also illustrated Yejide's anger at Akin's relatives and her stepmothers who were sad about Yejide's heartbreaking situation - losing a child, but were not sad about losing Olamide, since she was lost when she was just a baby and no one knew her! Moreover, the author showed how Akin's mom told Yejide that she should move on, forget Olamide, and concentrate on having another baby! Yejide also was angry with God because she grew up without a mother, and then lost her 2 children when she became a mother herself! This story also underlined the stigma that is stuck on any sick or weak child who doesn't live, which is characterized in Olamide and Sesan. These weak children even were buried in a place that is anonymous to parents and lacks a gravestone. Finally, Akin felt that after losing the 2 children was karma getting back at him for lying about his impotency and involving his brother to solve the problem!

My favorite quotes are:

Yejide's thoughts '… my mother could not be replaced with money, by a stepmother or anyone else, and I was sure I would never call any woman ‘Moomi’.'

Yejide's thoughts about expecting a baby 'I did not need to be afraid. Even if Funmi ended up taking Akin from me, I would soon have someone all my own, my own family.'

Yejide's thoughts after becoming pregnant. ‘A man is not something you can hoard to yourself; he can have many wives, but a child can have only one real mother. One.’

Yejide to Rotimi about understanding the meaning of calling her Moomi (mom/mommy) 'I understand how a word others use every day can become something whispered in the dark to soothe a wound that just won’t heal.'

Akin's mom to Akin ‘If a lie travels for twenty years, even a hundred years, it will take one day for the truth to catch up with a lie.’

Akin's mom to Akin '… anything that is done in the deep darkness will one day be talked about in the marketplace.' And 'You can never cover the truth. Just as nobody can cover the sun’s rays with his hands…'

Yejide's thoughts about having children 'The reasons why we do the things we do will not always be the ones that others will remember.'

Yejide's thoughts '… in life, sometimes one person’s good fortune is a direct consequence of another person’s ruin.'

Yejide's friend telling one of the salon customers ‘There is nothing stopping a beautiful girl from facing her books, Aunty’.

Yejide's thoughts after having Rotimi and losing her first 2 children 'I was not strong enough to love when I could lose again …'

Yejide to Akin when he attacked his brother ‘… don’t let the devil use you.’

Akin's mom to Akin about ending his feud with his brother ‘A single broomstick is useless, but when you put it in a bunch … It

sweeps the house until it is clean…’

Dotun wrote to Akin trying to mend their relation 'A woman can divorce you, family can’t.'

Yejide's thoughts about seeing Rotimi a bride 'Hope was a luxury I could no longer afford.'

Akin's feelings after discovering that Yejide knew his secret and about his agreement with Dotun 'Anger is easier than shame.'

Akin's mom to Akin about finding him a 3rd wife because she felt that Yejide can't have children that live 'But only a few people can win in a fight against their destiny.'

The words of Yejide's dad to her 'Yejide, love is like a test.'

Yejide's thoughts 'love had immense power to unearth all that was good in us, refine us and reveal to us the better versions of ourselves.'

Yejide's thoughts about believing Akin's words to the doctors about their sex life '… sometimes faith is easier than doubt.'

Yejide to her friend ‘Before you call the snail a weakling, tie your house to your back and carry it around for a week,’ I said.

Yejide to her friend ‘Even the tongue and the teeth cannot cohabit without fighting.’


Hope Shines in a Survivor's Story- (November 24th 2023) 

In her tale Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore portrayed the life in Texas, particularly in Odessa, during the oil boom in the 1970s. This is the story of the Hispanic-American teenager Gloria, and the 26-year old pregnant Mary Rose. Gloria is the survivor of a brutal rape in the middle of the desert near the oil fields. Mary Rose rescued Gloria, because of which she went through a war against the rapist's family and friends, who urged Mary Rose (via phone calls and yelling across her house's fence) not to destroy the life of a good White boy for the sake of a Hispanic slut.

On February 14, 1976 Gloria Ramírez (a 14-year-old girl who kept running away from school) was hanging in town when Dale, who was older than she was by a few years, parked his pickup and called her "hey Valentine!" she thought why not since it may end up in something nice. She dreamt about being taken to Corpus Christi or Galveston. However, after driving out of the town and entering the desert, not far oil fields. He told her that she has to pay for the beer she drank with him! So he threw her on the sand and attacked her! She fought for her life, but he hit her brutally. The next day, she woke up and crawled over the sand and the thorny plants, then pulled herself up and walked barefoot to a nearby farm, the only present house in the desert.

She knocked at the door that was opened by Mary Rose, who was in her third trimester. Upon seeing Gloria's battered body that was covered with blood and scratches, she asked her little girl Aimee to call the sheriff, bring her rifle, and stay in the kitchen. Gloria asked for water to drink, at which Mary Rose noticed a pick up coming her direction. So she let Gloria inside the house and asked her and Aimee not to make any sound. She faced Dale who asked nicely for his valentine, but Mary Rose denied seeing a girl. Afterwards, Dale threatened her to bring the girl or else! Thankfully, the sheriff arrived in time and took Dale to prison.

Gloria on the other hand, was taken to the hospital to treat and stitch her injuries, which also required the removal of her torn spleen! She also changed her name to Glory, because she kept hearing Dale's voice calling her "Gloria"! She was born in Texas but her mom was an illegal migrant, working as a cleaner at a company. After the incident, she stayed with her uncle Victor, who served in the army that allowed him to obtain his citizenship. Yet, because of the power of Dale's family, Glory's mom and her colleagues were sacked at the end of the day and sent back to Mexico without being paid for that week.

Mary Rose's husband was mad about his wife's behavior - putting her herself and Aimee in danger for the sake of a Mexican girl, who definitely brought it onto herself! But Mary Rose responded: 'what if it was Aimee'? She would have wanted someone to help her daughter. But he argued that his daughter wouldn't act like these migrants! This changed the way Mary Rose saw her husband, who hated her for helping the teenage girl! To Mary Rose, he was a bigot because he knocked her up when she was just a teenager in high school. She was not different from Gloria, except that she consented to having sex with Robert, now her husband! Mary Rose also felt angry at her inability to make her husband see the goodness in what she did, and that Dale was a criminal, a rapist who must be punished! She also didn't know how to live with him after what happened. She even questioned if her job was just to cheer him up, be a good wife, and listen to him!

Eventually, Mary Rose moved with her daughter and newborn to the town, due to fearing for their life. In the town, Mary Rose missed the serenity and the beauty of the sky of her farm. In her new home, Mary Rose kept receiving threatening phone calls, and people yelling at them while they were inside the house not to destroy the life of a good boy for the non-White slut, and that what happened between Dale and Gloria was a misunderstanding! This continued throughout the following 6 months! Yet Mary Rose saw what Dale did to Gloria, and to her his behavior was no better than a wild boar. This is why she insisted on testifying against him, and because she felt that Gloria lost everything; her life, mental health, safety, and even her mom!

In the meantime, Glory was angry with herself and felt very stupid to go in a truck with a stranger. She stayed with Victor in a motel. Yet, due to her trauma and knowing that she wasn't safe until Dale is in prison, she had her own room where she slept with a pocketknife under her pillow. She also kept the windows and blinds closed, which she checked as well as the door many times before sleeping.

In August, Mary Rose attended the trial as a witness and said what she saw; that Gloria looked like a tattered fish fighting for her life after being removed from water! But Glory didn't show up because she feared scrutiny, in addition to not wanting to go through what happened. Victor didn't push her to go because he knew that she wouldn't win the case. He even thought that 'The cops and lawyers and teachers and churches, the judge and jury, the people who raised that boy and then sent him out into the world, to this town—every one of them is guilty'. In fact, the court considered the 'rape' a simple assault, and so Dale just got one-year probation and paid $5,000 to Glory. Victor however, told Glory that he went to prison and wouldn't get near her again. After the trial, they left and crossed Zaragoza River to Mexico to meet her mom. Victor decided not to return to the racist country that lacks justice, and tried to encourage Glory by praising her scars 'Something to be proud of. It means you fought hard, means you came home from the war'.

Yet, life has its own way to repay Dale's karma. One summer day, he got drunk in a local bistro and called Karla, the 17-year old waitress, 'Hey there, Valentine. You look like you just lost your best friend'. The same words he said to Glory! So she whispered something in his ear, causing him to try to hit her but he missed! So the men in the restaurant pulled him outside and hit him. Later that night, Karla was in the desert gazing at the stars, when suddenly she hit Dale while driving back into town. The next day, which was her last day at the restaurant, she took her baby and drove away from Odessa to find a better place to live. Karla left school after getting pregnant, which she tried to get rid of in many traditional ways (do strenuous exercise, carry heavy stuff, drinking weird pills and herbs, … etc.), because she couldn't drive to the clinic in Santa Teresa knowing that police patrols would make her go back home.

Corrine is Mary Rose's neighbor. This old lady was angry with her husband, who committed suicide after discovering that he had a brain tumor. But with time, she accepted that her husband refused to live depending on her, despite wanting to be with him till his last breath. She also offered to help Mary Rose with her kids.

One afternoon and after a sand storm, causing the phone wires to be cut, Corrine and Mary Rose noticed the absence of the 10-year old Debra Ann who was playing with Aimee. They also noticed the absence of the truck of Corrine's husband. So Mary Rose got in her car deciding to get to Penwell. They discovered a napkin with the city's name signed by Jesse! Debra Ann lived with her dad after her mom left before a few months, deciding to visit a few cities to decide what she needed to do, before returning to her daughter. She got Debra Ann when she was in high school after which she married Debra Ann's dad.

So Corrine got into her car and followed Mary Rose, who went crazy believing that Jesse is just the nickname of Dale! She thought that he wanted Glory but obtained Debra Ann instead! In the end, they got to the gas station in Penwell where Jesse and Debra Ann where. Mary Rose threatened Jesse with her rifle! But Debra Ann yelled that he was her friend, whom she was helping to get his truck back from his cousin. Corrine also put her hand on the riffle and yelled at Mary Rose that it wasn't the same man. It took Mary Rose some time to accept the fact that Jesse wasn't Dale! She was so mad that Dale wasn't held accountable for what he did. He walked away without being imprisoned for his hideous crime. Yet she continued to live with fear over her life and that of her children. She also was worried about Glory, who would be traumatized and haunted by Dale and the rape for a long time! So Mary Rose thought that she would kill him and relieve the world from this bad creature! But the guy with Debra Ann was Jesse, not Dale!

Jesse was a 26-year old veteran, who left to Texas with his cousin to work! But his cousin gave Jesse some money and took his truck until returning his money back! He suffered from a ringing in his ear, which hit by a rifle while serving in Vietnam! Jesse used to live in an old abandoned pipe near the strip club, where he worked as a cleaner, which was close to the oil fields. When Debra Ann discovered him, she brought him a pan, blanket, soap, cigarettes, food, and other things, which she stole from Corrine and Mary Rose. In the end, Mary Rose apologized to Jesse telling him '… how easy it is to become the thing you most hate, or fear'. Jesse in turn got back his truck and returned the stolen stuff to Corrine, who gave him money to help him get his life straight. Then he drove to Tennessee, to his mom and sister.

This tale sheds light on racism in cases of rape and always blaming the victim, especially if she wasn't White. The trial also was ugly and UNJUST esp. that Dale's lawyer was vicious, who at some point stated about Gloria's age 'one girl’s fourteen is another girl’s seventeen, least that’s what my old daddy always said', that is 14 isn't that different from 17! Moreover, this book showed how some Americans use and overwork the illegal immigrants, and give them up just because of a phone call from a powerful White man! The writer also stressed on the trauma of a rape survivor and the strength it requires to convince the jury/community that they are the victim and not the rapist! Additionally, she described that unnatural causes of deaths of women are being raped and killed by men, whereas men die due to getting drunk and hitting into something or drowning while fishing, a car accident, falling from an oil tower, drinking and taking painkillers.

Sadly, this tale showed how the town believed that Glory deserved what happened to her because of hanging out alone in the evening and going voluntarily with the boy! In addition, the locals believed that because she was a non-White Mexican, then she MUST BE a cheap girl that probably lied about Dale raping her, or claimed that he raped her to extort money from him. Moreover, Mary Rose was angry with the church group who kept judging the poor people to whom they were packing aid boxes. This group also judged and attacked Mary Rose for helping Gloria and insisting on testifying against the White boy, their kin!! So Mary Rose explained to this group that what happened to Gloria was not a misunderstanding, it was RAPE by saying 'Because you can call a sandstorm a little breeze all day long, I tell them, and you can call a drought a dry spell, but at the end of the day, your house is still a mess and your tomato plants are dead'.

Wetmore depicted what the oil companies did to Texas in the seventies, the years of oil booming. They destroyed the nature and land of the lone star state. She also underlined that owners of these companies only care about how much money they make, but didn't care about their workers or their safety and health. the author also highlighted that Corrine fought with her husband to work as a teacher in the high school in Odessa. He refused at the beginning but being a persistent woman, she made him say yes. She refused to be a stay at home graduate, and just cook, clean, and make babies! Interestingly, in those days the principle of the school called Corrine's husband to check if he gave his permission to his wife to work at the school!

Finally, this story narrated the tale of a woman near Pecos River, whose husband and son were killed by a blizzard; yet she kept on living. She grew diverse kinds of plants in her farm that is located in the desert. She watered the fruits and vegetables from the river of which she dug a trench to her farm. The locals thought that she was bewitched and so some men went to ask her if she was a witch and maybe kill her. Yet, the men died because of natural accidents. Victor ended this legend by telling Gloria 'All by herself, the woman had changed the course of the river'!

My favorite quotes are:

Epigraph of the book by Larry Levis:

Often, I used to say: I am this dust; or, I am this wind.

And young, I would accept that. The truth is, it was never the case.

I have seen enough dust & wind by now to know

I am a little breath that always goes the distance

Longing requires, & to know even this will fail

Thoughts of Mary Rose about Dale 'I used to believe a person could teach herself to be merciful if she tried hard enough to walk in somebody else’s shoes …'.

Corrine remembering her husband's words to their daughter Alice 'You always told Alice that getting hurt was no excuse to quit playing a game'. She was reproaching him for ending his life and leaving her to finish this life alone!

Debra Ann thoughts 'She thinks how nice it is when somebody saves you from something, even if you don’t need to be saved.'

Debra Ann thoughts about stealing from Corrine and Mary Rose to help Jesse 'Stealing is better than letting a man go without food and company'.

Mary Rose thoughts 'And knowing that I have failed another woman’s daughter in all the ways that matter, I now want badly to be a person of valor'.

Mary Rose thoughts '…wonder what that might feel like, to destroy something just because you can.'

Suzanne, the neighbor of Corrine and Mary Rose, advised her teenage daughter 'Never depend on a man to take care of you, Lauralee, she says. Not even one as good as your daddy.' And 'nothing feels as good as earning your own money'.

Suzanne told her daughter to focus always on her goal '… you can’t take your eye off the ball, not even for a minute. People who take their eye off the ball get hit in the face.' And 'When people don’t look where they’re going, alligators get them'.

Corrine thoughts 'In wrath may you remember mercy…'.

Victor told Glory while driving to Mexico about their ancestors' inability to face the cruelty of their White owners, who used to whip them, tie them to a tree and set them on fire, rape their wives or daughters, …etc. 'To speak up would require courage that we cannot even begin to imagine.'

Glory was listening to a song by Lydia Mendoza during the trip to Mexico that said 'Hope shines'.

A Nation's Cause - (October 27th 2023) 

In الأجراس ثلاثية (Triple Bells), رجال في الشمس (Men in the Sun), and As We Always Have Done, Ibrahim Nasrallah, Ghassan Kanafani, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, respectively presented the epic life of Palestinians, and Indigenous people of the Americas in resisting the oppression and insolence of Israel and the colonizers.

I. Nasrallah's الأجراس ثلاثية portrayed the oppression Palestinians have experienced in the wake of the Israeli invasion, under which they still live. In 1948, the 17-year old soldier Nahom hid in the barn of the Palestinian Um Jaser, following the Israeli army raid on a nearby village. Due to begging for his life and feeling motherly towards him as he was similar to Jaser’s age (her eldest son), she promised him safety and gave him food. After 7 months, Nahom returned with the army and attacked Ra’s Asarou, burning homes and killing any being they encountered. This forced most villagers, including Um Jaser and her family, to leave their homes and find refuge in neighboring villages. Days later, the villagers returned to their homes and lands trying to start again. In response, the Israeli army came back with their heavy machines and blew up the village! Meanwhile, Nahom kept looking for Um Jaser because of feeling indebted to her. After 20 years, they met and he offered her a wooden box containing her shawl, which he took from her home before bombing the village! Um Jaser refused the gift telling him that she cannot accept anything from a person who took from her everything, her children, land, and home!

Nahom's family moved from Germany to Palestine when he was a kid, and resided in Um-Khalid's house after she and her family were expelled from it! Nahom’s dad (Mosheh) was a journalist sent to photograph Palestine. The photos were displayed in European newspapers with the headline: 'the houses (actually homes of Palestinians) are waiting for the Jews to come and live in'! But Mosheh loved shooting more than taking photos. So he switched his job with Levy, the man who taught him how to shoot. Levy and Mosheh's scheme was discovered and contradicted by Karima Aboud, the first Palestinian female photographer. She took photos of houses, mosques, churches, and neighborhoods inhabited by Palestinians, and published them in Arabic journals. Karima lived (1893-1940) in Beit Jala, and like all Palestinians, Karima’s family suffered a lot from the British occupation who used to pursue and imprison any Arab carrying a gun. Mosheh was proud of Nahom but disappointed by his other son who was pro-Palestinian and felt sorry for Um Khalid.

Years later, Captain Nahom harassed Palestinians in Jerusalem, Beit Sahur, Beit Jala, and Bethlehem. His men used to arrest young and old men from the streets, schools, colleges, or stores and hit them brutally esp. on their testicles to break their will and their ability to reproduce. The captives then were detained for a day and released at 8 pm, the beginning of a curfew! This daily tactic resulted in the death of hundreds. Moreover, Zeidan was a watermelon seller who was thrown in a military car and showered by his watermelons! After a few days, he was left at his parents' door suffering from severe bruises and damaged internal organs! Zeidan was imprisoned again before his high school exams, and only released after the exams' last day because Nahom told him that he didn't want him to become educated! Yet Beit Jala resisted by refusing to buy the Israeli milk. Instead, they collected money and bought 18 pregnant cows! This was a blow to the Israeli economy, causing Captain Nahom to harass Beit Jala men to know the cows' place! So the men kept moving the cows and milking them to feed Palestinians. The military also abused others by not giving them or their family members a permit to be medically treated in another city (e.g.; Jerusalem) unless they work with them, such as providing information about revolutionaries' names and plans or the cows' place. Unfortunately, the cows' project failed after Oslo's agreement due to capitalism, corruption, and converting it into a dairy factory managed by European companies. 

This trilogy is full of tragedies extracted from real events including bombing hospital, churches, mosques, and unaremed Palestinians, burning homes with children inside, shooting kids, attacking prayers in Al-Ibrahimi and Al-Aqsa mosques or in churches, separating families, kicking Palestinians from their homes, bombing their buildings, holding them at gun point, and interrogating them for >12 hours when moving within the West Bank (the occupation divided Palestine into 3 areas: West bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel). Unfortunately, the UN's decision to stop Israel's genocide is always vetoed by the US, which also provides annual military aid to Israel. It is true that the US provides financial assistance to other countries including mine, but the issue with Israel is using the heavy machines, which are more advanced than what Hamas makes, against the unshielded Palestinians who only defend themselves by stones! The origin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started by Balfour's promise in 1917 to establish Palestine a home for the Jewish. But what many people don't know is that Palestine was part of Bilad Al-Sham where Arabs, Jews, Christians, and Muslims used to live, eat, celebrate and mourn together, which also had mosques, churches, and synagogues. This land was under the British colonialism from 1917 till 1948, when the Israeli military suddenly raided Palestinian cities and villages, assaulting and killing many women, children, and men, and displacing at least a million Palestinian. Balfour's declaration was refused by Arabs resulting in their execution or exile, like Sharif Hussein bin Ali (great grandfather of King Abdullah II) who was exiled from Mecca to Cypress by the British. Since 1948, Arabs fought 4 wars to free Palestine which they lost, but won numerous battles to keep some cities from falling. The last battle was Al-Karama that occurred on Mother's day of 1968 on the Jordanian border in an attempt to invade Jordan. In addition, there is difference between Jews and the violent Israel state. The Jewish like Christians, Muslims, Hindus…etc are present everywhere. In fact, there are synagogues in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. No one is against Judaism or the presence of Jews in Palestine who were living in this land with Arabs for hundreds of years. But humanity is against the police state of Israel that is practicing all kinds of apartheid against Palestinians, which mimics these used by Hitler, and can be viewed on the news or Netflix (Omar and The Gift films).   

The suffering of Palestinians to find a job and support their families continued post the Israeli occupation as G. Kanafani showed in رجال في الشمس. The story revolves around the old man Abu Qais, teenager Marwan, and As'ad who wanted to go and work in Kuwait. The journey started by crossing the Eastern Jordanian desert, but instead of skipping the borders to Iraq, the drivers left the passengers in the middle of the desert due to fearing security patrols! Those who survive the heat, thirst, hunger, or snakes, look for a driver in Baghdad to take them to Kuwait. So the three men met by coincidence in Baghdad with the Palestinian water-tank driver, Abu-Gasab. He promised to carry them inside his empty water tank in exchange of taking a lower fare than what Iraqis ask for (10 vs. 15 Iraqi dinars). The three travelers were skeptical about surviving August heat inside a metal tank (50 C°/122 F)! But Abu-Gasab calmed them down by stating that they will only stay for 5-7 minutes inside the tank, and Iraqi drivers would leave them in the desert!

The next morning, As'ad got beside the driver whereas Abu Qais and Marwan sat on top of the tank. Ahead of the Iraqi borders, the three men got inside the tank. Abu-Gasab nervously passed the frontiers and after 7 minutes, the men got out of the boiling tank drenched in sweat! They drank water and spilled some of it on them. Afterwards, Abu Qais and Marwan switched places with As'ad, drove till reaching the Kuwaiti borders at 11:30 am, and hid again inside the sultry tank. However, the borders' officers refused to finish Abu-Gasab's paper work unless he told them about his adventures with a dancer, which was a tale made up by Abu-Gasab's boss! At 11:51, he left the building and drove to a hill, where he stopped and found the three travelers dead! This pained Abu Gasab and cursed the officers. In Kuwait, he left the bodies at a dumpster, knowing that the municipality would bury them the next day, and took their watches and money (his promised fare) while wondering 'why didn't they knock on the tank's walls?'

This is just a glimpse into the infuriating journey that the displaced go through in the hope of finding a better life in another land! Sadly, many of these immigrants die in the desert, sink in the sea, or get captured and jailed! Countless humans experienced such distress after WWI, WWII, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Also until this day, many people from Africa, Asia, or Latin America endure terrible conditions and die in the Mediterranean, Pacific Ocean, or Sonoran desert while trying to escape conflict and cross to safety. 

As We Always Have Done by L. B. Simpson, which I got as a gift, features cultural resurgence of the Indigenous people of the Americas, particularly of Canada. She also described the injustice that the Indigenous suffered from upon the colonizers' conquer and seizure of their land 'Turtle Island', as well as destroying and polluting its habitat, changing its name, and torturing its inhabitants. For instance, colonialism killed the Natives; raped and forcibly sterilized their women; confined them in reservations; and changed their way of living, dressing style, hunting/fishing, gender viewing, and rituals of marriage and worship. The settlers also took away the Natives' children, gave them English names, and placed them in residential schools where they were exposed to inhuman treatment in an attempt to reform them and erase their heritage, resulting in the death of many children as I noted in my post of July 24th 2020.

This book also detailed the Seven Fires creation legend, which emphasizes on combining feelings and spiritual knowledge with 'action/doing', and interacting with other beings in order to thrive in harmony with the world. An example on this is the cultural story of a child who learnt how to obtain maple syrup by watching a squirrel sucking the maple tree's bark, who then ran to his mom telling her about his discovery, providing her with the sugar he extracted from the tree. Another tale that the White culture tried to falsify is that of Pocahontas. It is a tragic story of Matoaka, the Chief's little girl who was abducted, raped, and separated from her son, family, and tribe by the colonists, and taken to England in the 1600s where she was poisoned.

Moreover, the Indigenous considers 'land' a representation of place, power, and relation between beings and nature, and not 'commodity' as the colonizer sees it. The author also illustrated the Nishnaabeg's (first nation on Lake Superior) economical, political, and matrilineal systems, as well as their communal teachings including honesty, concession, empathy, helping others, and perseverance. Regrettably, colonialism, capitalism, and residential schools produced a traumatized nation of Indigenous people whose self-esteem and self-confidence were broken via calling them stupid, useless, dirty, slut, addict/drunk, or savage, and telling them not deserving the land they live on. The White man also sidelined the role of the Indigenous in politics due to making them believe of their inability to govern their nation. To cope with shame, the Indigenous found peace in drugs, alcohol, and harming themselves or others. Therefore, to be emancipated from pain and shame, the Indigenous must recognize their identity as Indigenous regardless of the government views/values. Accordingly, they will unite and perform decolonization movements to transform their communities, like the NODAPL campaign that started in spring 2016 against the Dakota pipeline that passes through sacred places of Standing Rock Sioux, threatening their vein of life via polluting their water supply.

In all, Palestinians and the Indigenous share a similar history of oppression and obliteration of their identity, which they still bear its consequences to this day. For instance, Israel changed the cities' names such as calling Java Tel-Aviv and destroyed the 4200-year old Canaanite cemetery to build a road, whereas the colonizers renamed PKOLS (White Head) Mount Douglas! Such occupation also violates human rights by enforcing evictions, unfair trials, torture…etc. This must be discontinued by trying criminals at the International Criminal Court, because every nation has the right to live peacefully in its land and participate in governing it; this is the request of Palestinians and the Indigenous.

New Beginnings - (September 29th 2023) 

In The Ship of Brides, Jojo Moyes beautifully narrated the story of 600 Australian brides traveling to England in summer 1946 to meet their British husbands, who served in WWII. This is based on the HMS Victorious' tale, the aircraft carrier that carried 700 brides across the world. This story is about the brides' sacrifices, bullying and judging others, giving second chances, being there for mates, losing loved ones, and having a new beginning.

In 2002, Jennifer joined her friend Sanjay to visit his family in India. Jennifer convinced her 80ish grandma, Frances, to join them too. During their journey, they stopped by Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat, when suddenly Frances was astonished by an old ship covered with rust and sand. On their flight to London, Frances told Jennifer the ship's story. In the summer of 1946, Victoria carried ~1600 marines, Red Cross staff, and brides from Sydney to Plymouth. The aircraft crossed the Indian and Pacific oceans during which it stopped in Bombay and Suez.

During WWII, Frances served as a nurse in Halmaheras Islands, Morotai, and married a lonely dying soldier who loved her dearly. This marriage allowed her to go to London and have a new start after being abandoned by her drunken mom when she was 16. Then raped and forced to become a prostitute by the hotel manager who wanted money from her hoe mom, before running away with the help of the Chinese cook of the hotel.

Each room was guarded by a marine. Henry Nicol was the marine that guarded the room of Frances room and her 3 mates; the pregnant Margaret and her sneaked dog, Jean, and Avice. The captain imposed this procedure to keep the brides safe, and prevent any indecent incident between them and servicemen. Henry discovered that the presence of a dog in the room, about which he asked Frances. She told him nothing but with time, Henry fell in love with Frances, and showed her a picture of his wife and children. Frances too started to have feelings to this marine but avoided him due to not wanting to destroy his marriage. Yet she didn't know that his relationship with his wife was strained, in which the latter asked for divorce due to being deserted for 3 years, and finding someone else who cared for her and the children.

To entertain the brides, there were beauty pageant; hair salon; lectures about marriage, life in England, and religion; knitting and cooking classes; and a dancing party. Unfortunately, after the party, a marine got drunk and fell in the engine area. The bride was slightly hurt but the marine was badly injured and bled a lot. So Henry asked the help of Frances because the ship doctor was drunk! Joined by Margaret and Avice, Frances helped the injured marine. In the meantime, another marine, Jones-the-Welsh, recognized Frances as the hooker who entertained him and other marines a few years ago in Australia! This shocked Henry who hoped that Frances would deny it. Yet, she ran away to her room!

Sadly, Frances suffered scrutiny from the marines in which a few of them tried to rape her, but was saved in the last minute by Henry! The brides too avoided her and talked badly about her including Avice, who asked to be transferred to another room yet, the other place was not as good as the one she was in, so she stayed. Margaret was the only nice soul that treated her kindly, didn't judge her, and never asked her about her past.

One day, Frances was called to the Captain's office. He talked to her privately about the incident. She told him angrily that despite being an excellent nurse, she was defined by her past, which she was trying to bury! She was allowed neither to forget her trauma that wrecked her life nor to survive in this harsh world! Then she commented that he has to see a doctor for his leg! The captain was shocked that she noticed his limp leg, and allowed her to check it. She told him that his leg had osteomyelitis, which needs an ointment and some penicillin injections to prevent its worsening. She suggested the ship doctor to treat it, but the captain refused knowing that the doctor was tipsy all the time, as well as avoiding the spread of the news of his health status, which may cause ending his career. He also told Frances that he would state that there was a misunderstanding about her story! His foot injury resulted from Japanese bombs that attacked his previous carrier, which also caused the death of his nephew, who was a 26-year old pilot.

So Frances paid the captain a few visits in that week to treat his leg during which she told him her story. This annoyed the marines who believed that she seduced him! These words hurt Henry who at some point asked Frances about the time she spent with the captain! This provoked Frances who yelled at Henry that she thought that he was different, but turned out to be just like the others! To this, Henry apologized and told her that he too did some things during the war that he wasn't proud of! Frances however asked him to leave! Henry was pissed off himself for acting like an arrogant teenager instead of telling her how he felt!

In the meantime, an explosion in one of the oil pipes happened that ignited a fire in the engine room. So, all brides were evacuated in rescue boats accompanied by a marine including Henry, who wanted to look for Frances. Frances however, was trying to convince the weeping Avice to leave the room and run! But the latter refused and showed Frances the letter that Ian sent her, telling her that he was married and wouldn't leave his wife and kids, yet she was welcome to stay in a separate house where he would visit her a few times every week. Eventually, Frances pulled Avice to the ship surface but found all the rescue boats in the water. So she held Avice's (who couldn't swim) hand and jumped! They were pulled onto the boat that Henry was steering! After returning to the aircraft, Margaret looked for her dog in her room but didn't find him and so ran to the lavatories, where she used to take him. To her shock, he was dead after trying to free himself from the room that locked after his entrance! This devastated Margaret who wrapped him in her shawl and dropped him in the water before being soothed by Frances.

Two days after the fire, Victoria disembarked in Plymouth. The marines were asked to get the brides off the ship one by one and after checking their information. So Frances got down and had mixed feelings; she felt sad due to not having anyone to meet her but also felt happy to having the chance of a new beginning, a new life! Suddenly she was followed by Henry, who spent the last hour sweeping the ship for her, esp. after the captain told him that she was a widow! He was glad because he felt that he might have a chance with her. After convincing her that she deserved a second chance in life and a happy ending, she said yes!!

Margaret was met by Joe and his mom. Joe was very happy to see her, and surprised by her size - due to the pregnancy. Margaret kept in touch with Frances and stated that they moved with their 4 children to Australia after the death of Joe's mom. Margaret was a farm girl who with the help of her aunt Letty, took care of her 4 brothers and dad after their mom left, due to feeling overwhelmed with taking care of her family. Margaret's brothers had a hard time accepting that she would leave them, esp. the youngest who cried after dropping her at the harbor. In the middle of the trip, Margaret confided to Frances about her worries of not wanting her after the birth of their baby. She was afraid of having the same feelings that her mom had when she abandoned them a few years ago. Frances felt helpless and wanted to lift her mood by telling Margaret about her story, but didn't know how! Margaret however felt better after talking about what bothered her, and apologized to her roommate, blaming the pregnancy for her mood swings.

Avice was received by her parents and jealous sister, who flew from Australia to England. They told her about the party they were planning for her and Ian. Yet she told them the truth about the deceptive marine, after which they went back to Sydney. Avice was a rich snob girl who brought make-up, fancy dresses, and many shoes onto the aircraft. Her parents were against her marriage, but she refused to listen to them! She joined the beauty pageant, and was about to win, but due to Ian's letter, she was depressed and didn't put make-up, causing her to lose. Ian sent her the letter after telling him that she was pregnant with his child, which was lost after jumping in the water with Frances. The latter was worried that Avice would blame her for losing the baby, yet Avice was happy due to being able to return to Sydney without having anything that connected her with Ian. That is, she could have a new beginning.

Jean was an illiterate careless young bride (16 years), but Margaret taught her reading. One day, a marine got her drunk and raped her. Luckily, she was saved by Frances and Margaret. But this incident reached her husband, Stan, who sent her a telegram stating "Not Wanted Don't Come". These four words had its negative effect on the brides since Jean was the second one to receive it. These words dawned on the brides that they are no longer are in control of their fate! Their fate was in the hands of the man they married in haste, who may not understand or value their sacrifices (leaving their home and family) to be with him!!

The stocker officer was the one who told the captain about the incident and so Jean was got off the ship with tearful eyes to be sent home. Frances was very pissed off with the stocker and yelled at her for destroying Jean's future, and judging her for a mistake that wasn't her responsibility; it was the marine's fault, who abused her when she was drunk! What made her angrier was that this marine was only scolded! After Jean's departure, Frances and Margaret wrote a letter to Stan explaining the truth about what happened - that Jean was assaulted when she was unconscious. It was a long shot but they did it anyway, because they felt it was the right thing to do for their roommate, esp. that the man who abused her wasn't punished.

     This book described how these Aussie brides travelled on an aircraft, crossed the oceans to reach England and meet their husbands. These young women were grouped in which each group of 3 or 4 shared a windowless room in which they slept in uncomfortable bunks, esp. for the pregnant ones. Moreover, the author showed that women were judged for any improper behavior or staining their reputation (like Jean) but not men. She also shed light on the sad history of Frances, which she wasn't allowed to forget despite that, she was given a new beginning by marrying Chalkie, who protected her from being abused or assaulted.

Moyes also depicted that men who served in the army had a hard time returning back and staying at home near their wives and kids, after the end of WWII. They got used to traveling and fighting, which was the only thing they knew, and so it wasn't easy for many of them to settle down and work on land. Moreover, she portrayed how some of the British servicemen and marines didn't respect these Aussie girls, thinking that they were cheap women that would cling to any man who would take them from their farms to England. These machos didn't see that these Aussie women left their home and loved ones, and traveled so far based on a promise from a man they married, who might turn them down or give them up or not even show-up. Actually, upon reaching England, some brides discovered that their husbands were either dead or missing. Some of the men on the aircraft felt that these women should be interested only in looking nice for their husbands, cooking, and having babies! In fact, the 'drunken' doctor told Frances when she joined the ship's infirmary to assist him 'That’s the only work I want you interested in from now on. Real women’s work. So, much as I enjoy the company of an attractive young woman, right now I’m going to insist you enjoy your last days of freedom. Get your hair done. Watch some movies. Make yourself look pretty for that old man of yours'.  

My favorite quotes are:

Frances' thoughts upon seeing the Victoria in 2002 'I suppose I hadn’t believed in Fate until that point. But it’s hard not to, when you think how far we had both come. Hard not to when you think that there was no way, across miles, continents, vast oceans, we were meant to see each other again'.

Margaret's thoughts about losing her mom "I’d known she was going, she thought, I would have listened harder. They never told you it wasn’t just a gaping hole of grief but that it went on and on, myriad questions that wouldn’t be answered".

Frances telling herself after Henry told her about the captain's nephew 'Everyone has lost someone'.

Servicemen thoughts after the fire in Victoria 'Those who remembered Indomitable were simply relieved that no lives had been lost. If the war had taught them nothing else, it had taught them that'.When Henry asked Frances how she coped with seeing so much misery after treating so many injured and disfigured servicemen, she answered back 'Do you really think any of us had a choice? We all have to find some way, she said, of atoning'.

Avice told Jean upon wishing for a storm 'You might want to be careful what you wish for'.

Frances' feelings after everyone knew about her past 'Over the last few days she had wondered at how it was possible to feel so lonely in a ship so full of people'. 'Her patients had suffered, and she had occasionally questioned why God could take one or leave another in such pain'.

Henry's statement when he wrote a letter to his wife telling her that he was okay with her decision to get a divorce and marry another man 'There is a passenger on board,’ he wrote, ‘a girl with a bad past. Seeing what she has suffered has made me realise that everyone deserves a second chance, especially if someone out there is willing to give them one, in spite of what they carry with them'.

Frances told the captain 'I know quite well what you were suggesting, Captain. That my service record is the least important thing about me. Like most of the occupants of this ship, you choose to determine my character by the first thing you heard. And then act upon it. … I have treated in my career probably several thousand men, some of whom had been terrorized and physically brutalised. Some of whom were my enemies. Many of whom were only half alive. And not one …. Not one of them treated me with the lack of consideration you have just shown'.

During the farewell speech, the captain said '…. Those of us who have always served are going to have to find new ways of living. Those of us who have found ourselves profoundly changed by the experience of war will have to find new ways of dealing with those around us. Those who have suffered are going to have to find ways of forgiving. We are returning to a country that is likely to be unfamiliar to us. We, too, may find ourselves strangers in that land…'.

Frances told Henry after indicating that he saw her leaving the captain's office '…. I’m tired of having every single one of my actions judged by ignorant people who then find me wanting…. I can’t be bothered to explain myself any more. I can’t be bothered to try to improve anyone’s opinion of me if they can’t be bothered to see—'.

In response, Henry apologized and said 'I did things in the war . . . that I’m not proud of. I haven’t always behaved in a way that people – people who don’t know the full circumstances – might consider to be admirable '.

Frances response to Avice after inquiring about her ability to live after what she has been through 'I suppose I’ve discovered ... we all carry something. Some burden of shame'.

The captain told Henry 'Don’t become too enamoured of your freedom, Nicol. A lack of responsibility, of ties . . . can be a two-edged sword'.

A note at the beginning of chapter 27 'one met so many people during the war in times of great comradeship. Most people who recall those days admit to making the same mistake of not keeping in touch - L. Troman, Wine, Women and War'.

Frances told Jennifer after inquiring about what happened to Margaret 'I think they were very happy. ... Oh, don’t get me wrong, Jenny dear, no marriage is without its hiccups'.

Shutting Oneself from Loved Ones - (August 25th 2023) 

In The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes described the life of the teenage Sarah who was trained by her grandfather to become a horse dancer and join L' École de Cavalerie in France. This tale also explored the life of Natasha and Mac, and the issues that this couple goes through due to shutting oneself from the other and not communicating with each other.

Sarah lived with her grandpa Henri after the death of her nana and irresponsible mom. Henri trained her to ride her horse Boo, and join the elite École de Cavalerie 'Le Cadre Noir' in Saumur, France. He wanted Sarah to follow his steps and finish his dream, which he lost after marrying the British Florence. Then moving to live with her in London, where he struggled to find a job. Seeing his misery, his wife suggested getting back to Saumur. But he couldn't do it due to having their baby, and Florence diagnosis with multiple sclerosis.

Henri decided to surprise Sarah on her 14th birthday by tickets to Saumur to watch the horse show in Le Carrousel. But unfortunately, her grandpa suffered a stroke and had to stay in the hospital for about 2 months! One day Sarah was caught stealing fish fingers from a store. Natasha interfered and paid for the bag, and gave Sarah a ride. Sadly, they found that someone broke into her apartment! So Natasha called her to be ex-husband, Mac to fix the door with his tools. And when she knew that Sarah was alone, Natasha took her to their house. Natasha is a lawyer of underprivileged children like these whose parents were divorced, or who asked for asylum. So the next day, Natasha called a social worker to set Sarah with a foster family.

Two foster families returned Sarah to the social worker due to their inability to handle her, since she doesn’t follow their rules of getting back home early. Sarah used to train on riding her horse, about which she told no one. Eventually, Mac suggested taking her in (aiming to restore his marriage), to which Natasha reluctantly agreed. Conor, Natasha's colleague and boyfriend who was divorced with 2 boys, didn't like this situation. But Natasha convinced him that it was temporary because her nutty relationship with Mac was over.

Mac was a photographer for agencies who shoots models, which caused him to travel a lot. His marriage was cracked due to not being there for Natasha when she suffered a miscarriage that was followed by losing other babies, and eventually goofing around with other women. So Mac left their house for 6 months and retuned temporarily because of his work. This time, Natasha noticed that Mac has changed! He became more responsible and even took a stable job - teaching in a college. She liked the new Mac and even understood that he couldn't support her when she lost her unborn babies because he too was hurt!  

Sarah got along well with Mac but not with Natasha. The to-be-divorced couple discovered that Sarah is missing school. So they faced her but she said that she visited her grandpa. Yet, due to the repeated absences, Mac decided to follow her. He discovered that she was riding Boo in the park and took several shots of her riding and doing "la croupade, capriole, and curvets" in his camera! Natasha suggested moving Boo to Kent, where she rented a cottage, and keeping him in her neighbor's stables. Sarah refused but Mac convinced her! Unfortunately, the stables' owner couldn't handle Boo for more than 24 hours, and so they returned him to London.

Dreadfully, when Maltese Sal saw Sarah in his stables, he cornered her asking for his money after touching her breast! Eventually she thought that if her debt can be cleared by just touching her, then why not! But Maltese Sal not only touched her bare breast, he made her touch his penis after unzipping his pants. She was horrified by his behavior, pushed him, and ran home! Maltese Sal wouldn't have been able to assault Sarah if Cowboy John was there, but he had to go to the US to check on his sick sister. The American Cowboy John was Henri's friend for many years. After Henri's stroke, he allowed Sarah to keep her horse paying neither for his rent nor for his food. However, everything changed when Maltese Sal bought Cowboy John's land.

One day Natasha took Sarah out for a pizza. But Sarah didn’t open up because she felt that no one believed her. She couldn't tell her what the greedy assailant Maltese Sal did, and about the £ 50 that she owed him to keep Boo in his stable, and feed him. Upon returning home, Natasha was shocked by Mac's girlfriend in her underwear and T-Shirt in her kitchen carrying 2 glasses of wine! She furiously left the house to a hotel, and refused to answer Mac's calls! The next day, Conor suggested staying in his house instead, which she accepted hesitantly.

One morning, Sarah stole Natasha's credit card, ran away, and freed Boo from Maltese Sal, who broke his promise and sold the horse to participate in a race. She rode until reaching the Thames, which she crossed via the free Woolwich ferry, then rode to the port in Dover. She couldn't cross because Boo needed some papers that must be signed by an adult. Yet she was helped by Thom, an Irish man that she met at a stable that provided Sarah and her horse with a bed and some food for the night. So Thom got Sarah and Boo to Calais in his van since he transferred horses between England and France. He gave her signed papers for another horse (Diablo Blue), which he used to carry but died due to suffering an accident.

Throughout this trip, she used Natasha's card a few times in Dover and Calais. She withdrew a few hundred pounds to buy food and pay Thom, who had to buy the silence of the guy who owned the real Diablo Blue. She also called her grandpa telling him that she was on her way to Saumur, to which he answered 'good!'. Unfortunately, a bunch of bikers followed and scared Sarah. So she rode Boo so fast and when tried to jump over a fence, she fell of her horse and got injured. Upon waking up, she discovered that she lost her horse and backpack. She ignored the farmers and started looking for her horse. Then she entered an inn and made a call to England. Sadly, she was told that her grandpa has died! The bad news made her pass out. Luckily, the owners gave her something to drink during which she kept murmuring about the horse. So a woman told her that she saw one nearby, and offered to give her a ride. Gladly, Sarah was united with Boo and asked the directions to Saumur. In Le cadre Noir, Sarah asked for Le Grand Dieu - the chief of the Cavalry School. She also told the elderly man who stopped her that she was the granddaughter of Henri Lachapelle and that over the past 2 days; she rode from London to Saumur to show him her riding! Upon hearing her grandpa's name, the man said that he was Le Grand Dieu, and told her to begin her show.

Mac started the search for Sarah when discovering her absence. He met Cowboy John in the stables with which he visited Henri, and discovered that she took Boo aiming to go to France. So they picked up Natasha, who left court in the middle of a major case, and drove to Dover, throughout which they kept fighting. Via the stolen card, they discovered that Sarah reached Calais, where they headed and spent the night. The next day, Cowboy John called the hospital and told the couple that he had to get back to see Henri since his health was deteriorating. So they split and the couple drove to Saumur. While in the hotel, they got the bad news about Henri, which devastated them esp. Natasha who ran to the hotel room and kept wailing. Later when Mac checked on her, she told him that maybe she couldn't bear babies because she wasn't good enough to be a mother, and what happened to Sarah is a proof of her incapability to look after children! Mac was surprised by her tears and words, and that she was still sore about losing the babies! So he hugged her, which ended in kissing each other and making love. In the morning, Mac felt that there was hope in saving their relationship esp. that he loved his wife. Natasha too decided to tell Mac that she still loved him! Yet, Natasha heard Mac talking in the bathroom to one of his models and so she shut-off herself again from him. This annoyed Mac who asked for an explanation for her weird hot and cold behavior! He also asked if she heard him on the phone and said that he ended his relationship with his model long time ago!

Upon reaching Le Cadre Noir, the couple was surprised by seeing Sarah riding Boo and doing the moves that her grandpa taught her. Everybody was amazed by her but Le Grand Dieu said that she couldn’t be accepted due to not being 18! The next day, Sarah asked if Boo could be kept in Le Cadre Noir! Everybody was surprised by her announcement! Le Grand Dieu accepted but Mac and Natasha knew that she couldn't be separated from her horse, and asked Sarah for an explanation! But Sarah stayed silent and insisted on leaving! On the way back to Calais, Natasha asked Mac to stop the car and pulled Sarah out for a nearby café. She told Sarah that she loved Boo and asked her to tell the truth about leaving him. So Sarah yelled that Natasha wasn't telling the truth either about her feelings towards Mac! Natasha was surprised by this and said that her life was complicated! She assured Sarah that she only wanted to help her, and that she wouldn't judge her. At this moment, Sarah broke into tears and told Natasha that she wanted to protect Boo from Maltese Sal, and told her everything that this man did! Natasha was horrified by this and started crying with Sarah. She also said that as long as Sarah didn't sign on anything, then Maltese Sal didn't own Boo! So they returned to Saumur to arrange for Boo's transfer back to London, which was facilitated by Thom.  

At home and after Sarah went to bed, Natasha told Mac that she had to tell him that she loved him even if he stopped loving her, to which he inquired about Conor! Natasha replied that it ended a few days ago! So Mac walked to her asking his wife not to ever shut him out ever again and kissed her! Natasha left her job and established her own legal office. Sarah, who went to a boarding school that takes horses, received a letter in the summer from Varjus, Henri's friend, inviting her to be trained under his supervision for 6 weeks. This however, cost a large sum of money, which Mac and Natasha agreed to do for her. She promised to repay them one day, but Natasha commented that she already did! Sarah was the reason that glued Mac and Natasha's relationship, amending their marriage. A miracle also happened when the couple discovered that Natasha was pregnant! They named the baby Henri.

This story highlighted the importance of always communicating with our loved ones. Building walls between each other destroys relationships esp. that people are not magicians. They cannot read each other's minds or feelings. To be understood by others, a person must express his feelings if annoyed by any behavior from a spouse! Natasha and Mac ghosted each other and neither talked about their relationship, nor about the difficulties they had in their life or jobs. Instead of talking about the pain they felt regarding the unborn babies, to set the pain free, they held it inside, esp. Natasha who at some point exploded about her inability to be a good mom.

In this tale, Moyes shed light on how loving someone makes a person go above and beyond to be with this person. Henri for example left his dream career to be with Florence, who upon seeing her husband's sadness, due to his inability to get a proper job, suggested getting back to Saumur. Marriage is about the sacrifices that each person does to make the relationship work, supporting each other, and being there for one another. The author also stressed on the importance of communicating with one's children, listening to them, trusting them, never judging them, and believing what they say and not to brush them off.

My favorite quotes are:

Natasha's thoughts about the Indian refugee guy (Ali Ahmadi): 'If he had lied about how he’d got here, he could have lied about anything'.

Sarah to Mac about repeating the horse riding moves that her grandpa taught: 'It’s about trying to achieve the perfect communication. … It’s different every time because he might be in a mood or I might be tired, or... It’s not just technical – it’s about two minds, two hearts . . . trying to find a balance. It’s about what passes between you'.

Social worker told Mac about Sarah - 'Teenagers are a different kettle of fish. They bring their own challenges'.

Natasha's sister described Sarah: 'She’s fourteen. There’ll be all sorts of stories you’re not getting…. They don’t tell us this stuff. They’re frightened of being judged, or told off.’ She laughed. ‘Or, worse, that we’ll charge in and try to sort it out'.

Natasha's thoughts about Henri's sacrifice to be with Florence 'If you loved someone that much, should your environment become unimportant, the sacrifices you made disappear into your past? It was clear that horses were the old man’s passion, a passion that had not been extinguished despite his self-imposed exile. But how had he come to terms with what he had lost?'

Xenophon’s advice to cavalrymen that had an effect on Sarah: 'To be appraised of the enemy’s position in advance, and at as great a distance off as possible, cannot fail to be useful'.

Henri to Sarah about treating her horse: This is why I always tell you, you must never lose your temper with a horse. You must treat him with kindness, with respect'. … He (Xenophon) knows that the best way for the horse and the man is simply to understand each other, to respect each other. … 'What Xenophon is asking is better. He is asking for respect, for the best of care, for consistency, fairness, kindness. … Surely you can see that there is love in what he does'.

The teacher of Lucy, a girl whose parents are getting divorced: 'They (children) don’t tell teachers, and they don’t tell parents because they can’t trust them not to get cross when they say something they don’t want to hear. So, no … they don’t tell us because half the time nobody listens to them anyway'. She also said 'It will be surprisingly easy for Lucy to head down the wrong path. All you have to do is stop listening'.

The teacher addressing the court, Natasha, and Lucy's parents in court: 'As you no doubt tell yourselves, they’ll grow up a little faster, end up a little wiser. But you know what else? They’ll stop trusting. They’ll become a little more cynical. They’ll spend their lives waiting for everything to fall apart all over again. Because it is a rare person, a rare person, who can contain their own pain and still give a child the support and understanding it needs. In my experience, most parents haven’t got the time or the energy to make sure it happens'.

Cowboy John about how Henri handled his reckless daughter: 'When you think you’re losing something, you don’t always behave in the smartest way'.

Thom thoughts about Sarah's perseverance: 'How many people got the chance to chase a dream? How many people even knew what they wanted?'

Xenophon describing Horsemanship 'Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not'.

Sarah to Mac, Natasha, and Le Grand Dieu 'I just want someone, for once, to listen'.

إذا كنت قاسياً يعشقك عشرة، وإذا كنت طيباً يجرحك ألف!  نزار قباني

Mothers and Daughters - (July 21st 2023) 

Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes portrays an image of the relationship between a mother and her daughter, as well as between grandmother and granddaughter. This story also highlights the main reason for distorting these relationships, which is lack of understanding and communication between the two.

Kate sent her daughter Sabine from London to stay with her grandparents, whom she never met, in Kilcarrion village in Ireland. Kate had a strained relationship with her parents for the past 17 years. This is because she got pregnant (with Sabine), when she was 17. Kate wanted to relieve Sabine from the pain of her divorce from Geof - her step dad - after 6 years of marriage. Sabine knew that her mom was cheating on her husband with Justin, and so knew that they would be separated. This upset Sabine who hated her mom for not growing up and not being able to settle down. She moves from one man/relationship to another, like she changes sweaters.

Sabine did not want to go and spend the vacation with her grandparents because she only met them once when she was a little kid. She didn't want to live with people she didn't know! She also had a hard time accepting to move away from Dean, the boy whom she liked and was dating! She was worried that he would leave her for Amanda! However, Sabine had no choice but to go to Kilcarrion, where she had a tough time with her grandparents! Joy, her grandma, had strict rules about eating, sleeping, and having dogs in bedrooms. She also forced Sabine to ride horses, which she hated. Sabine even tried to run away back to London, but she didn't have enough money to buy the ferry ticket. The only people who made it easier for Sabine to adapt to her life in Kilcarrion were Thom, the guy who took care of horses, and Mrs. H, the housekeeper.

One day, she fought with her grandma and left to Annie's house, Mrs. H's daughter, due to leaving a photo album (of Joy and her family when they were in China) on the floor of the study room. At this point, Joy felt terrible about what she did and decided to correct her behavior. So she went to Annie and asked Sabine to come back. When she returned home, Joy told Sabine her life story, how she met and married Edward (who was in the navy), and about Kate's childhood in China. So Sabine's relationship with her grandma and grandpa, who was very sick and bedridden, became better. Every day, she read to her grandpa, and enjoyed riding her horse with Thom. She even participated in the village race where she met Bobby, another horse rider who knew her grandparents and Thom. She enjoyed his company and went on a date with him.

One day, Kate's dad had a stroke and was taken to the hospital. So Joy called her daughter and son to come. Kate's relationship with her brother (Christopher) was not good. He was an arrogant man who didn't approve Kate's teenage and adulthood lifestyle! Unfortunately, the night before leaving to Ireland, Kate broke up with Justin due to lack of communication, and losing interest in her.

During her stay with her parents, Thom tried to rekindle his relationship with Kate. He loved her since they were teenagers, and didn't care about her past. Thom also told Kate that after her departure, he left to work as a jokey. Sadly, he got an accident that resulted in injuring his hand badly, which was replaced by a synthetic one. After this incident he tried to get over his trauma by women and drinking, destroying his career! Eventually, he returned and worked for her parents. Kate refused to start a relationship with Thom, because she decided to have a break from relationships in order to figure out what she (Kate) wants, despite loving Thom. She also desired to spend time with her daughter to try to understand her, and provide her with stability. But Thom insisted on giving their relationship a chance, yet Kate was afraid of suffering from another heartbreak!

Eventually, Thom convinced her but unfortunately Sabine saw them kissing and was mad at her mom, esp. that Sabine liked Thom. She faced her mom at home yelling at her for not being able to control herself! At this moment, Kate got the courage to face her mom and asked Joy about the reason for being strict with her when she was a kid, and dictating her relationships including the one with the Chinese boy when they were in Hong Kong. She even accused her mom of racism! Shockingly, Joy explained that the Chinese boy was her brother since her dad had a fling with the Chinese housekeeper that they had. That's why Kate couldn't play with him when she became a teenager, because Joy noticed that her daughter liked this Chinese boy. After their heart-to-heart talk, Kate made up with her mom and was sad for her because Joy couldn't leave her husband after betraying her! Divorce was stigmatized in the sixties.

On the other hand, Sabine looked for Thom in the sables and tried to make a move on him, who stopped her nicely. He explained that he couldn't be with her! She could have been his daughter, if not for Kate's fling! So Sabine ran away to Annie's house, where she was having a baby alone on the floor. Sabine got scared and asked one of the residents in Annie's home (since she and her husband offered it as B&B) to call the ambulance. Then she ran to her grandparents' house calling her mom and grandma. Kate and Joy assisted Annie to deliver her baby. Gladly, the ambulance arrived on time and took the mother and baby girl to the hospital. Joy also reached for Mrs. H who in turn called her son-in-law. Annie's husband, Patrick, left his wife after a few years of losing their 3-year old child by a car accident. This untreated trauma caused Annie to lose appetite, become indifferent, and withdraw from people including her husband, who eventually couldn't tolerate Annie's behavior and left her (a few days before delivering their baby). But after hearing the happy news, her returned to his wife! After this incident, Sabine made up with Kate and Thom, but sadly, her grandpa died. Sabine decided to stay with her grandparents and not to go back to London. Kate too sold her place in London, and moved to live near her parents (and Thom).

This story highlights the weakness in relationships between parents and children, esp. mothers and daughters. This is mainly due to lack of communication, understanding, and conveying what a person needs/wants from a relationship. Sometimes people listen but don't hear what the other person is saying. They don't understand the meaning of what they are conveying, which weakens the relationship. The author also underlined how some people measure their happiness by being in a relationship like Kate. She even changed her lifestyle just to fit in the life of every guy she hooked with. This is not healthy because she was deleting a part of herself at the expense of her significant other, which in turn negatively affected her relationship with her daughter. Children too like Sabine, suffered from instability due to having to adapt to every change in her mom's life, since she had a new man every few months or years. Happiness resides within! So if a person is happy by himself, then he can be happy anywhere and with anyone, as long as he/she was in a healthy relationship.

My favorite quotes are:

"What people will think was very important to Alice". Kate's thoughts

Kate's response to her mom's comment about socializing with new people. "But I don’t have anything to say. They’re only interested in shopping and clothes and who’s being disgraceful with whom".

Kate read part of a research, "Have you ever wondered whether you and your child are speaking the same language? … social psychologists from the University of Geneva have discovered that what parents say and what children hear are often two different things. It’s not necessarily disobedience—it’s just that it (parents' instructions) doesn’t fit their alternative brand of logic”.

Annie told Sabine when the latter commented that her grandparents were rigid and insensitive, "Just because they’re not easy with showing it, doesn’t mean they don’t feel it”.

Joy was telling Sabine about her ability to stay with her husband after cheating on her, "… And I realized it wasn’t just about oneself, about one’s own happiness. It was about not letting everyone else down, about keeping other people’s dreams alive".

Joy thoughts about Annie "… how grief could transform someone from the bright, sparky young mother of three years previously, to this seemingly drugged automaton".

Thom told Kate, "I’d rather be on my own than with someone who isn’t…".

Kate told Thom, "I can’t move on, Thom. Not till she (Joy) stops judging me for everything I do. Not till she can start accepting me for who I am”.

Relationships and Making Decisions - (May 26th 2023) 

Night Music by Jojo Moyes describes the story of Isabel and Laura and their families with the Spanish house. This tale is about love, friendship, betrayal, guilt, balancing between family and work, being uprooted, obsession of owning a place, bullying, and making decisions on behalf of others.  

In addition to having to face the trauma of losing her husband in a car accident, the father of her kids Kitty and Thierry, Isabel Delancey had to deal with the mute state in which her son entered since his dad’s death. She also lost her musical career, and had to deal with the financial matters and debts. Thus, the Delancey’s had to sell their big villa, leave London, and move to the countryside in Norfolk. They lived in the Spanish house, which Isabel inherited from her great-uncle, Mr. Pottisworth. The Spanish house was a big beautiful old building that had a 30-acre field of fruit trees and a lake. Yet due to negligence, it was not safe for living. Kitty was very upset with the move since she had to leave her friends.

The Delanceys settled in the house that was eaten by mold, its roof was leaking, and lacked a proper bathroom, heating system, running water, and electricity. At some point, Kitty faced her mom of being selfish for not selling her Guarneri violin that worth millions, which would have allowed them to stay in their old house. In response, Isabel sold her favorite violin and bought a much cheaper one. She needed the money to renovate the house.

Laura used to take food to Mr. Pottisworth in his last months, aiming to have his house. She and her husband, Matt, thought that he will leave it to them. But to their shock, the house was left to his closest relative! This made the McCarthys angry! So renovating the Spanish house was Matt’s idea to drain Isabel of her resources (by overcharging her), so that she can sell it to him in a low price. He was a builder who always got what he wanted by bullying.

Unfortunately, Isabel didn’t know about Matt’s intentions. No one in the village told her despite that everyone knew, including the shop owners; Asad (a Somali who moved to England in 1960s) and Henry. But eventually, Asad faced Matt at the park during a BBQ gathering. Matt became violent and pushed Asad while yelling at him to shut up and that he would destroy him! As a result, Asad suffered from severe asthma attack that caused him to stay in the hospital for a few days. Yet he was relieved for telling Kitty the truth about Matt.

In the meantime, and while Matt was rebuilding Isabel’s house, he became attracted to her and one night he entered her house to fix the electricity. He found her immersed in her violin. She was vulnerable, and so he hugged her and made love to her. At first she needed the hug but the moment she discovered what was going on, she became upset with herself but didn’t know how to stop Matt! After this, Isabel resented Matt! On the other hand, Matt felt attracted and thought that she wanted him. So he decided to correct his error and rebuild the house correctly. Isabel kicked him out but he was an arrogant and self-absorbed man, who thought that no woman would reject him because he did most women in the village.

Matt had 3 workers, one of them was Byron. Byron was on parole for hitting his sister’s boyfriend violently causing him to become handicapped, due to hitting his sister and niece. So the villagers feared him; yet, only Matt gave him a job but with a lower wage than he should be paid. Thierry befriended Byron and enjoyed his company and his dogs. Byron taught the kid how to feed chickens and skin a rabbit. He also brought them some hens to sell their eggs to the cousins’ shop, and taught Isabel how to shoot rabbits with air rifle. Isabel liked Byron and felt that he was safe and kind! Byron also taught the Delancey’s what kind of vegetables they can plant and cook, and the fruit trees they had on their land which they can eat or sell.

Byron stayed in the boiler room of the Spanish house since he lost his house and had nowhere to go. So he decided to hide in this room without telling anyone until he can make a good sum of money to buy a small place that allowed keeping pets. In the boiler room, Byron discovered that Matt kept rats, which he released into the Spanish house to frighten the Delanceys! So Byron removed the cage that contained these animals. He wanted to face Matt about this but feared for his job! Yet one day, Byron faced Matt about weakening the house instead of rebuilding it. At this point, Matt told Isabel the truth about Byron. So the latter quit working for a deceptive person.

After this incident, Thierry told Byron that he decided to stop talking because he discovered that his dad was cheating on his mom on the day of the accident. What made it worse for Thierry, who was 9, that he told his dad that he wished him to die! This left the boy traumatized and decided to not say anything ever again! Upon hearing this, Byron gave Isabel a letter that Thierry found! It was sent from Laurent’s girlfriend who didn’t know that he was dead. Isabel was shocked to know that her son was holding this secret for so long! She talked to him, assuring him that he can never hide anything else from her. So Thierry told Isabel about Byron’s hiding place! She talked to Byron who told her his story, and so she offered him to stay in her guest room until being able to stand on his feet! Discovering that her husband was cheating on her, made Isabel angry with Laurent but this also set her soul free, and thus allowed her to accept her feelings towards Byron. Yet, Byron had to leave after staying for one-day in the Spanish house due to getting a new job. But he promised to get back for Kitty’s 16th birthday.

On the other side of the story, Laura decided to leave Matt for his continuous infidelity. She also accidently met Nicholas, a property developer, in the park. Nicholas liked the Spanish house and decided to buy and resell it. A relationship sparked between the two, after which she decided to leave her husband esp. after her son told her to leave his dad since he wasn’t treating her right! But when Anthony discovered that his mom would leave with another man, he was furious with her and decided to live with his granny or with Mrs. Delancey, who wasn’t like everyone in the village, she wasn’t judgmental! Before leaving, Laura decided to clean the desk that Mr. Pottisworth gave them. She discovered a small piece of paper written on it that he left the Spanish house for Byron and dared Laura to do the right thing!

Nicholas met with Isabel and told her that the builder was weakening the Spanish house instead of rebuilding or fixing it. He also told her that maybe Matt intended to do so because he wanted the house for himself! Interestingly, Matt was in the car waiting for this man to go while holding Isabel’s ruby ring, which she sold to be able to feed her kids and pay Matt! Upon hearing Nicholas’ words, Matt jumped out of the car and punched him, telling Isabel that Nicholas was lying. But it was over since Isabel was furious with Matt and yelled that all this time she thought people were nice to her but actually they wanted her house!

On Kitty’s birthday, her mom surprised her with rebuilding the bathroom by herself using DIY books. So Kitty decided to take a bubble bath, but the moment she was undressed she was shocked to hear a breakage in the bathroom’s wall! She noticed Matt taking down the hole that he made a few days earlier, after discovering that Byron was sleeping in the guest room. Matt thought (with his arrogant and dirty mind) that Byron was having an affair with Isabel! Kitty yelled at him but with no avail as he wasn’t listening to her and so she ran away wrapping herself with the towel. She ran out of the house gasping and told her mom what happened. Luckily, Byron came back for Kitty’s birthday, and so upon hearing what Kitty said, he went inside to search for Thierry because Isabel feared that Matt would hurt her son. However, Byron found Matt and ordered him to leave but Matt answered back that who is he to tell him to leave! Suddenly the building went down! Matt went out looking like a ghost! Upon seeing him, Laura decided to stay with him knowing that he was destroyed just like the Spanish house. On the other hand, Thierry came from the woods with his pets! This made Isabel happy but she remembered that Byron was still under the ruins and looked for him. Eventually, he was found and taken to the hospital by the paramedics.

In the hospital, Isabel kissed and talked to him but he answered back that he cannot be in a relationship because he has nothing to offer her. Not even a house! She answered back that it doesn’t matter who owns what After the collapse of the house, the cousins gave the Delanceys the small apartment above their shop, and the villagers brought them food, clothes, towels…etc. This made Isabel happy as well as teary since she has never been treated with such love.

A few days later, Byron found a piece of paper that Laura placed in his pocket on the fateful day. It stated that he was the owner of the Spanish house. At this moment he decided to give his feelings a chance and try a relationship with Isabel. So he asked Isabel if she really meant what she said that it doesn’t matter who owns what? She said yes and so he hugged and kissed her! Then he threw the piece of paper in the lake. In the end, the insurance decided that the house breakage was no one’s fault since it was an old neglected building! With the insurance money, Isabel was able to buy a small house, where Byron kept visiting them.

This short story depicts that people respond differently to traumas, either by running away from problems, stop talking, playing music, raising animals, or planting. Moreover, it highlights the feelings associated with betraying a loved one such as guilt and resenting one’s self! Moyes also stressed on prioritizing responsibilities like Isabel who had a hard time in balancing between her family and work during and after Laurent’s death. Additionally, the author described the difficulty of losing a parent since it exerts a kind of responsibility on the shoulder of children like Kitty, who was responsible for paying the bills after her dad’s death.

This tale also showed how obsessing about something could destroy a person, and the role of good people in standing up for bullies like Asad who faced Matt. Finally, the chronicle revealed the issue in making decisions on behalf of others. For instance, Byron chose the easiest path by deciding that his relation with Isabel won’t work due to the difference between them. He was a convicted man on parole with no stable income, and she was a musician who owns a house! But this doesn’t give him the right to make a decision for her. Each person should make his own decision, esp. when it comes to something shared with someone such as a connection or love bond.

My favorite quotes are:

Isabel thoughts: “When I was little, I thought a house was just a house. Much later, I learned that a house could be so much more than that – that it could be the culmination of someone’s desires, a reflection of how they saw themselves, how they wished to see themselves, that it could make people behave in ways that disgraced or shamed them. I learned that a house – just bricks, mortar, wood, perhaps a little patch of land – could be an obsession.”

Laura thinking about her husband when discovered that Mr. Pottisworth left the Spanish house to his relatives; There was such a fine line between desire and anger.

Matt thoughts; all is fair in love, war and property. He decided to deceive Isabel by weakening the house while renovating it in order to make her sell it to him.

Laura’s friend told her once about her marriage/life: “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?”

Byron told Isabel about being in the woods: “when you’re out here at daybreak you can pretend you’re the only person in the world.”

Byron thoughts: That was what prison did to you: it reduced your choices, took away your ability long afterwards to behave like a normal human being. He would spend a lifetime suppressing his feelings, having to ignore the behaviour of people like Matt McCarthy, just so that he did not confirm what they suspected to be true.

Isabel said to Byron: “… you should take any chance you have to be happy.”

Love, Power, and Money - (April 28th 2023) 

The Giver of Stars for Jojo Moyes is a fictional story that is based on true events of the Pack Horse Library project. This mission was established by Mrs. Roosevelt, aiming to spread literacy in the Appalachian Mountains. Between September 1937 and December 1938, a team of women who worked as WPA’s (Work Progress Administration) horseback librarians distributed free books to the people of Baileyville, a village in Kentucky.

Bennett met Alice in Surrey while being on a religious mission with his dad to Europe. Alice always was criticized by her parents for not acting like a lady! So when she met Bennett who was taken by her beauty, she immediately accepted his marriage offer. She thought that she would live like a New Yorker, and that marriage would set her free from her parents! Yet, when she arrived in Baileyville in September, after a long trip across the ocean, she discovered that the same rules governed women everywhere. What made it worse for her was living in the same house with her father-in-law (Mr. Van Cleve), who criticized her every move.  

One Sunday, after church, Mrs. Brady announced the aim of Mrs. Roosevelt to establish a free lend and borrow library for the people. In Baileyville, the library only included Margery O’Hare and Beth. So Mrs. Brady asked for participants, who would be paid. Her call was received by rejection esp. from men like Mr. Van Cleve, who stated that the only book people should read is the Bible! Alice was the first one to volunteer, which was not supported by her husband and father-in-law. Mrs. Brady too was skeptic about Alice since she was out of town and didn't know her way around, despite that she rode horses since she was a child. Yet, Margery offered to guide Alice for a week. Mrs. Brady also stated that her daughter Izzy will join this group. Izzy didn't like her mom's suggestion, but she was forced to do so. The library thus consisted of 4 women, which was a place owned by Fred. He was a nice guy whose wife left due to her inability to adapt to the life in Baileyville. With time, Fred had a crush on Alice who also had mutual feelings towards him. But Fred feared for Alice's reputation, and so he hid his feelings!

Bennett on the other side, regretted his quick marriage from Alice, esp. after reuniting with his ex-girlfriend, Peggy. He spent most of the evenings with his friends or hanging out with Peggy. He never defended his wife whenever his dad criticized her or her job as a librarian! One day while going on her mare, she met Jim Horner, a grim man whose wife died leaving him with 2 little girls. Like most people in Baileyville, this man was skeptic about the library at first; but after seeing its wonderful effect on children and/or women, who learnt new recipes from the magazines, they welcomed the librarians. Through her work, Alice also met Kathleen and her sick husband, who died a few weeks later leaving her with 3 children. Alice loved the way Kathleen and her husband treated each other, with love and respect. She kind of envied their relationship, esp. due to lacking such intimacy in her relationship with Bennett.

Margery needed someone to document the books borrowed and returned, as well as the dates of doing so in ledgers. So she located Sophia (a colored woman) with the help of her boyfriend Sven, who worked in Van Cleve’s mines. Sophia refused because she couldn’t and wouldn’t be allowed to work for White people! Yet Margery and Sophia's brother, who lost his leg in a mining accident due to absence of safety precautions, convinced her to join the librarians.

Izzy suffered from having a longer leg than the other, which forced her to use a crutch. So when she joined the library, she was grumpy and had a hard time learning how to ride a horse. But with time, she started enjoying the women's company and the library’s positive effect on people. She loved doing something good without being mocked, since she was bullied at a school due to her limp leg. Izzy also loved singing, but feared performing in public because of her limp! Yet, one night when she joined Sophia in singing a hymn, the librarians encouraged her to take music lessons and work on her gift! Beth however, was a single woman who cooked for and took care of her dad and brothers. She also was a smoker, an unacceptable behavior of women at that time, who dreamt of traveling the world and see Taj Mahal.

After the scandal of distributing a book about intimacy for married people, Izzy's mom forbade her from working with the librarians. This scandal surfaced when Alice tried to practice a behavior with her husband, to persuade him to have sex with her. Yet this had an appalling effect on Bennett, who left her alone in the room and narrated the event to his dad! Izzy's absence however, was covered by Kathleen, who joined the librarians after her husband’s death.

In the meantime, Mr. Van Cleve noticed missing 2 dolls that were owned by his wife, of which he asked Alice. She innocently answered that she gave them as Christmas presents to 2 little orphan girls (Horner's daughters). This made him angry and ordered her to return them! But Alice refused to do so! This pissed him off and yelled at Alice for being rude, esp. after working in a library that distribute sex books, and demanded her to quit! This information shocked Alice. She was very angry with Bennett for talking about their intimate moments with his dad! He broke the code of marriage of not sharing information about his relationship or bedroom secrets with others! She also angrily told Mr. Van Cleve that she wouldn't quit! So instantly, he slapped her and hit her head in the table twice before being stopped by Bennett. Meanwhile, Alice was able to stand up and walked all the way across the mountain to Margery's shack.

Margery was taken aback by Alice's bleeding face! She took her in and spread some herbs on Alice's wounds and bandaged them, as well as gave her something hot to drink and let her sleep. Since that moment, Alice refused to go back to the Van Cleves, despite that Mr. Van Cleve tried bribing her with $50. Bennett didn’t talk to her after this incident, as he didn’t want her back! Sadly, Mr. Van Cleve took out his anger at Margery, whom he hated, by shooting her dog. This hurt Margery badly because she loved her dog, the only faithful soul she ever knew! One Sunday, he also talked to Baileyville citizens about the sex book, urging for the library's closure. Nonetheless, he and a few narrow-minded men were faced by Mrs. Brady! So the library kept going, despite being boycott by many people.

One day, Baileyville was immersed by heavy rainfall that caused the fracture of the tailing dam, where the by-products of mining were left. The polluted high tide took with it many houses including Sophia's house. The breakage of the dam was Van Cleve's mistake, due to not strengthening it, which was at the expenses of raising his profit! In response, Margery and all librarians who were joined by Izzy, spread out to help the people of Baileyville. Izzy's selfless response changed Mrs. Brady's mind, allowing Izzy to rejoin the library! After this disaster, Margery attacked Mr. Van Cleve in public about shooting her dog; cutting trees; making holes in the mountains; polluting the environment through mining; buying homes illegally; abusing colored people in his mines where many of his workers, who worked under unsafe conditions, either died or suffered a handicap and then left with nothing since they can be replaced by other men; and paying gangs to attack the union men who asked for better conditions for miners. All this just to fatten his bank account!

At this point, Van Cleve put Margery in his head and decided to ruin her. His moment came when the corpse of Mr. McCullough was discovered in the mountains in spring, with 'Little Women' story beside his body. He died due to receiving a trauma on his head. So Mr. Van Cleve visited the sheriff's office and bribed him to make a case against Margery, since she was the only one who rode her horse on that rough area. They accused her of killing Mr. McCullough by hitting him with the book to avenge a long enmity between the O’Hare and McCullough! Upon hearing this, Margery told the librarians and Sven that she was defending herself in the mountains, as Mr. McCullough's was drunk and tried to attack her. So she hit him with book and rode away thinking that she only left him unconscious! Of course, she could not say the truth in court since she had no proof of this, and the sheriff was corrupt.   

So Margery was imprisoned despite being 6 months pregnant with a baby girl from Sven, who quit working for Van Cleve! After a few months in prison, Margery gave birth to Virginia Alice O’Hare. She named her Alice after the strong-headed independent British woman, and Virginia was her only sister who was murdered by her violent husband. The people of Baileyville didn't like Margery, because she didn't shed one tear after the death of her dad. This is because he was a sadist who used to hit his wife, son, and daughters brutally. So upon his death, Margery was relieved and free from his abuse, but also refused to marry and to be owned by any man! This is why she refused to marry Sven. The librarians and Sven kept visiting Margery and encouraging her. But after a few days of giving birth, Margery gave up fighting. She handed the baby to Sven, asked him to leave for another state, and refused to see anyone from that day on. Yet, the librarians didn't leave Margery alone, and faced the angry locals and McCullough's relatives who came to attend the trial. When the people including Mr. Van Cleve started yelling at the librarians, they defended their friend esp. Mrs. Brady, who said that no one should listen to a person who abused workers and hit his daughter-in-law savagely just for standing up for herself. This statement silenced the people! The librarians then sang a hymn for Margery, and they were joined by others whom Margery helped during the floods!

Interestingly, Bennett saw Alice in the bar and told her that the sheriff's men didn't meet McCullough's daughters. He also stated that he was fixing the damaged dams, and wished her safe travels! Alice's parents sent her a letter stating that they would assign her a lawyer, and she could live with her aunt in Lowestoft! Alice felt very sad about leaving Baileyville, and the life awaiting her in England. She loved Baileyville and couldn't imagine living without the librarians and Fred. The library got her true friends, and made her feel free due to moving around enjoying the mountain and nature on her horse, as well as relishing being away from judgmental people!

Alice told the librarians about what Bennett said, and decided to go to the mountains. At first, the librarians were skeptic, but they joined her except for Sophia! McCullough's daughters refused to receive the librarians. But when Kathleen reminded them that they used to play with each other when they were kids, they opened the door! Verna McCullough who turned out to be pregnant from her dad, accepted to come to town. In the court, Verna stated that one day her dad left saying that he wanted to return 'Little Women' to the library, despite warning him of the bad weather! McCullough's daughter defended Margery because she was happy to get rid of her abusive dad! So the judge ruled that Margery was not guilty, which infuriated Mr. Van Cleve!

In the end, Margery married Sven and adopted a dog. Bennett and Alice got an annulment since they never consummated their marriage! So Bennett married Peggy, and Fred married Alice! Beth traveled to India, Sophia left with her brother to Louisville because there were better jobs, Izzy recorded a musical performance, and Kathleen enjoyed Jim Horner's company, who loved having her around his daughters. Thus, only Margery and Alice ran the library 5 days a week.

This turn-page book detailed the life of men and women in American communities in 1930s, particularly in Kentucky. For instance, it described the tycoons who bought villagers’ houses under false pretenses to build coal mines; the unhealthy conditions under which miners worked, abused, lost limbs or killed; environmental pollution; and corruption, bribes, and misuse of power. This tale also emphasized how men love power and money so much, they become slaves to the matter at the expense of sacrificing lives, who are considered collateral damage! The story also shed light on the bloody war in Harlan County after the brutal conditions under which the miners used to work.

Moyes also highlighted the differences in English accent between Americans and Britons, and in their cultures esp. that Americans are friendlier and talk to strangers without discretion, unlike many nations around the world. The author also depicted how people perceive life in the US, like Alice's relatives who thought that she was having the time of her life, enjoying the theaters of the cosmopolitan country! Finally, it is worth noting that the story's title "The Giver of Stars" is based on a poem for Amy Lowell with the same name. Fred gave this poem to Alice when she was trying to understand why Bennett wouldn't touch her, at which she started to believe her mom's words that there must be something wrong with her! The poetry book succeeded in distracting Alice from her dark thoughts that she was worthless and useless because she wasn’t acting like a lady; that is, she wasn’t conforming to the cultural norms of wearing dresses, embroider, or drink tea with other women while gossiping, not to yell even at people including her dad's boss who groped her! Alice had a free spirit since she enjoyed running and riding horses in nature, and therefore couldn’t act against herself or be someone she wasn’t, which is why her parents, Mr. Van Cleve, and his son rejected her!

My favorite quotes are:

Margery told Alice "It’s just you and the trees and the birds and the river and the sky and freedom"

Margery told Alice "Not much point worrying what the town thinks about you – nothing you can do about that anyway. But when you look outwards, why, there’s a whole world of beautiful things."

Margery told Alice "There is always a way out of a situation. Might be ugly. Might leave you feeling like the earth has gone and shifted under your feet. But there is always a way around."

A heading of chapter 19 "Men expected women to be calm, collected, cooperative, and chaste. Eccentric conduct was frowned upon, and any female who got too far out of line could be in serious trouble." - ‘The Women Was Too Tough’ a book by Virginia Culin Roberts.

A heading of chapter 15 "The small town bankers, grocers, editors and lawyers, the police, the sheriff, if not the government, were all apparently subservient to the money and corporate masters of the area. It was their compulsion, if not always their desire, to stand well with these who had the power to cause them material or personal difficulties." An introduction to Harlan Miners Speak by Theodore Dreiser.

Alice had once been told by her favorite aunt that the best way to get through life was not to dwell on things so she packed those events into a suitcase, and shoved it to the back of a mental cupboard, just as she had done with numerous suitcases before.

Bolívar - final part of El Libertador of Latin America - (March 31st 2023) 

Manuela was a strong woman who defied all cultural and social stigmas against her. She was a married woman who rejected her husband, a man she didn't love, and favored staying with her lover and be Bolívar's mistress! She used to travel the harsh land of South America with just 5 people (including her servant), knew how to fight using a sword and a gun, was good political negotiator, and empathetic to people's/soldiers’ needs. She also saved the liberator from an assassination. She convinced him to put on his clothes, wear her galoshes, and jump out of window, where he ran with the dead of the night and hid beneath a bridge with is cook! On the other hand, she faced his attackers (who assaulted the few guards before reaching his bedroom, and later shot Colonel Ferguson), convincing them that he was in the palace by making them tour the whole place until discovering that she lied to them. So they hit her brutally, until General González stated that he didn't come to fight a woman! She was Libertadora and Bolívar called her liberatrix!

The conspirators, supported by Santander, included the young politicians who hated Bolívar and wanted to change the government. They included 150 individuals; many were of high-ranking people such as Luis Tejadas (Santander deputy), Colonel Guerra (the garrison protector), the politician Florentino González, and Commanders Horment and Carujo. Yet, they were stopped by Bolívar's faithful battalions, which were led by Generals Córdova and Urdaneta and others like Herrán, Astillo, París, and their soldiers. This was the third attempt that occurred in October; the first was on his 45th birthday (28 July 1828) but failed because Bolívar was out in the city. The second was supposed to happen during a masked ball in August. The rules forbade wearing opposite sex clothes, but Manuela made a seen as she came wearing like a hussar and refused to uncover her face. This embarrassed Bolívar causing him to leave! She was criticized for her uncivil behavior but she wanted to protect the Liberator, her lover!

This conspiracy scarred Bolívar's soul for the rest of his life. He even decided to step down but stopped by his ministers and faithful friends and politicians. He also forgave the conspirators and refused to know their names as he knew that the head of the snake was Santander. But his government decided to punish the plotters. Each one of them testified against each other, resulting in executing some of them while others were imprisoned for a few years! On the other hand, Santander's mistress (Nicolasa Ibañez) and other patriots including Sucre asked the Liberator to forgive Santander. But Bolívar was haunted by the blood of the Black warriors, Piar and Padilla who were executed for rebelling! He felt that it is racist to listen to his companions and pardon Santander, a White man! Eventually, he was released from Bocachica jail and exiled in Hamburg! The author described how South American states suffered from xenophobia. There was hatred between Whites, Blacks, and Natives as well as between coastal and mountain dwellers. It was difficult to achieve Bolívar's dream of founding an amalgamated South America. So Bolívar decided to step down and grant the leadership to General Sucre. This of course was not accepted by other military men such as General Juan José Flores. Sucre also refused this appointment because he was eager to get back to his bride in Quito, who was pregnant with their first baby.

The Liberator tried to recover from his sickness (tuberculosis fever) by staying in Chia, Colombia. However, this was disrupted by the news of Colonel Obando rebellion against Sucre and Flores in Peru. Obando even united with General La Mar (who desired to free Peru from Colombia's command) against Bolívar. So the latter responded by sending General Córdova who succeeded in throwing Obando's army in January 1829. In addition, Sucre, O'Leary, and Flores attacked La Mar's army to win back Peru, which they did! So Bolívar signed a peace treaty with Peru, with La Fuente. This infuriated Córdova causing him to rally against the Liberator. Nonetheless, he was quelled by O'Leary and his soldiers. Páez also called Venezuelans to respond to Bolívar's call, 'to write the Liberator what they wanted him to do and what they expected from him.' They wanted independence from Columbia and from Bolívar!  

Regrettably, like Bolívar's body and soul, South America was blemished with unrest and ruins. For instance, there were troubles again in Mexico, Chile, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Buenos Aires. Moreover, Bolívar's star among the British, French, and Americans has dimmed. Their politicians and ambassadors called him a tyrant murderer Negro! In the end, Bolívar wrote to his minister of interior that after the constitutional congress in January 1830, he would leave reigning the free colonies, and settle in a foreign land. He added that it would be better to divide the nation into 3 separate regions: Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Later, he entered Bogotá for the last time in January 1830; he was a frail man due to his sickness and his wounded soul!

At the constitutional convention, Bolívar stated that Sucre should be his successor, which wounded Generals Urdaneta and Flores. Then he left the proceedings and gave his speech to be read by Sucre. He wrote that he didn't want to be leader anymore, urging the citizens to decide for themselves, and protect their free nation and stay united. He also tried to defend his reputation that was besmirched by the conspirators' foul lies (i.e.; wanted to be king) to achieve their ambition via establishing and ruling their own land at the expense of dividing Great Colombia.

His health was deteriorating rapidly, esp. that he refused to take medicine, as he didn't trust doctors. He was very weak suffering from fever and retching most of them time and eating spoonful of food/soup! So he convalesced in his place at La Quinta. He was taken care of by Manuela and his loyal servant José Palacios, accompanied by his nephew Fernando Bolívar. He was thinking about leaving South America and retiring in Jamaica or England. But he worried about the money as he had no pension salary, and selling his silver wear only provided a momentary sum of $2,000 that could only cover his travels! He decided to sell his copper mines (worth $10 million) in Aroa (Venezuela) but the latter government took hold of it, considering it a Venezuelan property and forbade its sale. His sister María Antonia even went into legal battles for him but failed!

Unfortunately, his comrades in arm (Bermúdez, Arismendi, Paéz, Santander…) went against him and spread unjustified rumors about him. They claimed that he wanted to go and form an army and get back to attack and re-govern Great Colombia! In April 1830, Bolívar resigned and only Ecuador and its leader Flores offered him a refuge, not Caracas (Venezuela), his homeland, nor Bogotá (Colombia), the city from which he started his revolution! Moreover, after the riots in Bogotá's streets against Bolívar, Joaquín Mosquera and Domingo Caicedo were elected as president and vice president, respectively. To protect Bolívar from assassination attempts, Caicedo slept in the Liberator's house.

Subsequently, Bolívar left to Cartagena, leaving behind Manuela. There he waited for a ship to take him but the one that should carry him, Shannon, had to stop in La Guaira where Bolívar wasn't allowed entering. So until the ship returned, Bolívar stayed in Mount La Popa. In the meantime, he received good news that Venezuelans were calling for him to come back. This quenched his wounded soul! Yet he received a blow in the core after hearing about the assassination of his beloved patriot, Sucre! The latter was ambushed while on his way to Quito, to his pregnant wife. He got a bullet in his heart and 2 in the head. The foes were sent by General Obando, who fed them lies that Sucre was going to Quito to gather fighters and re-attack Peru! In Bogotá, Mosquera turned to be a weak leader, resulting in uncontrolled riots in which the people asked Urdaneta to rule Colombia. So the latter took over the government after Mosquera and Caicedo left the city. Bolívar didn't accept this, perceiving it a coup. So he asked Urdaneta to help Mosquera, the actual leader, in governing Colombians instead of taking his place!

Due to his inability to tolerate the heat and humidity of Cartagena, Bolívar moved to Barranquilla in October, where sadly he suffered from severe chills. He wrote to General Flores to avenge for Sucre, and to protect South America from chaos, crimes, tyrants, and from being divided. Luckily, one of Bolívar's loyal patriots, General Montilla sent him a ferry to bring him to Santa Marta with a French doctor (was in Napoleon's army). He also asked a wealthy Spanish man, Joaquín de Mier to take care of Bolívar in his hacienda. The Liberator stayed there for about 2 months, accompanied by his close friends (Perú de Lacroix), sister, nephew, and servant. He later was moved to Mier's sugar plantation in San Pedro Alejandrino. There he took his communion and wrote his will stating that he had no children, and only was married to María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro. He also indicated that he left the promised pension from Bogotá of 8,000 pesos (which never came) to his servant José Palacios, his property in Venezuela to his sisters, his books to be given to the University of Caracas, and his sword to Sucre's wife. He also wrote a note indicating that he forgave his enemies and haters, and if his death could fortify union in South America, he'd go happily to his grave! He died at the age of 47 on Dec 17 of 1830. The doctor (Alejandro Révérend) did an autopsy declaring that the Liberator died from deterioration in lungs that was attributed to tuberculosis. After 3 days, his corpse was laid into the ground.

Alternatively, Santander kicked out Manuela Sáenz from Bogotá 2 years after Bolívar left it. In these, she and her 2 loyal Black (woman) servants fought for the Liberator's reputation, by posting banners and fighting by hand, pistols, or sword with her attackers. She also protected Bolívar's documents from Bogotá’s government and thieves! In 1832, she moved to Paita (Peru) where she received Símon Rodríguez, Bolívar's 80-year old mentor. She got a small shop selling tobacco and wrote letters for sailors who couldn't read or write. She died in Paita in 1855, two years after the death of her companion, Rodríguez.

A few months after Bolívar's death, people celebrated him and built monuments of him in many cities. He was named Liberator of South America and this is how he remained. He was (is) the man who led a revolution traversing from Haiti to Potosí to kick Spaniards for good, despite that his vision of a united South America, similar to that in USA was shattered. Bolívar's principles of equality, eradication of racism, democracy, and fraternity also weren’t achieved in South America. For instance, Great Colombia was divided into 6 states, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Bolivia. In 1842, Paéz exhumed the Liberator's remains from the Cathedral of Santa Marta, just leaving Bolívar's heart in Santa Marta (Colombia). He brought them to La Guaira in a huge celebration and conducted a funeral over Caracas' mountain before burying the remains in the Cathedral. Of course, Paéz did this to achieve support from the people and elect him! Similarly, in 1870, Antonio Guzmán Blanco, a corrupt dictator who ruled Venezuela for 18 years, recruited supporters by exhuming the Liberator's remains and transporting them to the National Pantheon. President Hugo Chávez too used Bolívar's name in 1982 to become a leader of Venezuela, which he called the Bolívarian Republic of Venezuela in 1998 after changing the constitution.

This historical novel described the barbaric way in which the Spanish treated South Americans such as beheading and cutting leaders parts, placing them in cages and displaying them in different regions; burning people alive; raping women; and robbing churches, houses, fields…etc. Bolívar's army also was violent such as ordering beheading all Spanish prisoners! Spain also looted South America's gold and silver, abused and forced Natives to work in the mines and in sugar, cocoa and other plantations for free! Furthermore, and according to the anthropologist Alexander von Humboldt, between 1560s and 1780s Venezuela's population went down from 5,000 Spaniards, 10,000 Africans, and 350,000 Natives, to a total of 800,000 in which half of them were mestizo or mulatto! It is worth also noting that General Lafayette called Bolívar 'the Washington of the South' esp. that his revolution was under worse conditions than these of Washington. Bolívar had to liberate a diverse nation of different races and colors who lacked amicability.

The author also beautifully described the nature of South American, including Malecón and Chimborazo Mountain in Guayaquil (now Ecuador). She also portrayed the beauty of Lake Chinchaycocha, Huayllay, Junín, Cundurcunca, Arequipa volcanoes, and the western desert, the beauty of Cuzco, and Lake Titicaca in Peru, and Potosí (currently in Bolivia). She also depicted the earthquake that hit Bogotá on Nov 16 1827 that killed many people, and a similar destructive one that attacked Caracas in 1812. Moreover, Peruvians claim that Bolívar reduced the riches of Per. But Arana argued that Peru wasn't even a separate state at the time, it was part of Great Colombia! Finally, the writer has roots of soldiers who fought with and against Bolívar. For instance, Arana's great-great-great-grandfather is Joaquín Rubín de Celis - a Spanish soldier who fought the Liberator in Ayacucho battle, and whose daughter married Pedro Cisneros Torres (Arana's great-great-grandfather) who joined Bolívar's army against the Spaniards.  


Bolívar said to his fellow patriots 'Don't compare your might with that of the enemy, because spirit cannot be compared to matter. You are men, they are beasts; you are free, they are slaves.'

Bolívar said to General Sucre 'To correct one's wrongs can only be considered a good deed, and good deeds should be rewarded.'

Bolívar said 'The printing press is the infantry of the Army of Liberation'.

Bolívar said 'A weak man requires a long fight in order to win. A strong one delivers a single blow and an empire vanishes.'

Bolívar wrote to General Santander about abolishing slavery 'Any free government that commits the folly of allowing slavery can be expected to be punished by revolution.'

Olmedo (representative of Lima's president Marquis Torre Tagle) asked Bolívar to help Lima in a letter indicating that 'Peru awaits the voice that bonds, the hand that leads, the genius that opens the way to victory'.

"Peru", Bolívar wrote, " contains two elements that are the bane of every just and free society: gold and slaves. The first corrupts all it touches; the second is corrupt in and of itself." He said the same about Jamaica in 1815.

'No one achieves greatness with impunity: No one escapes the fangs of envy along the way,' Bolívar's words at the end of his revolution and after the failed attempt of his assassination.

In his letter to Urdaneta, Bolívar wrote in Nov 1830, 'Building one good accord is better than winning a thousand arguments.' … 'Many generals know how to win wars, but too few know what to do with their victories.'

Bolívar El Libertador of Latin America - (February 24th 2023) 

After appointing a leader for each region, El Libertador left Caracas to check on his estates in San Mateo that were vandalized by the Spaniards, royalists, and patriots. He lost his family estates and fortune; yet, he insurrected all his slaves including his wet nurse, Hipólita. He was an ordinary citizen in terms of riches esp. that he rejected his salary from the government. Nonetheless and probably due to feeling guilty about the death of agent Plaza, he used his wage to buy a house in Quito and offered it to his widow, Bernardina! Later, Bolívar felt the urge to liberate Quito, Pasto, and Peru. However, he was preceded by the Argentinean San Martín, who founded a dictatorship in Peru after fighting and defeating the Spaniards. Unlike Bolívar, San Martín joined the brotherhood of Freemasons supporting its independence beliefs (Lautaro Lodge). This patriot leader liberated Argentina in 1813 in the Battle of San Lorenzo. Then crossed the Andes and kicked the Spaniards from Chile in February 1817 in the Battle of Chacabuco. This General made bullets from melting the church bells of the city. San Martín also refused to take money from Chileans (to pay for the expenses of the combats); instead, he gave the money to the government to build a public library. In 1818, Chile obtained its sovereignty in the Battle of Maipú.

In July 1821, San Martín negotiated Lima's liberation with Viceroy Pezuela, who left the city for good. Then San Martín named himself the Protector, and joined forces with Bolívar and his co-patriot General Sucre. Bolívar's army fought the bloody Battle of Bomboná in April 1822, kicking the Spaniards from Quito and Pasto, liberating them. In May, General Sucre and his men sacked the Spaniards in Pichincha battle, on the icy peak of the volcano. This battle was the third major battle after Boyacá and Carabobo. Following these heroic battles, the royalists in the Isthmus of Panama surrendered to Bolívar's leadership. In the same year, Bolívar chose Antonio José de Sucre to be his son, who he respected due to seeing his spirit in him.

In June 1822 and while being in Quito, Bolívar received a letter from John Quincy Adams stating the US recognition of the South American Government. At the same time, the Liberator met Manuela Sáenz, whom he loved dearly. After that, he preceded San Martín to Guayaquil announcing it a Colombian city, which San Martín wanted to be part of his Peruvian land. He was furious with this and refused to get of his ship, Macedonia, and meet the Liberator. Yet, Bolívar welcomed him in Guayaquil's port and got onto his ship inviting him to stay in his land. So they spent less than 2 days with unfruitful negotiations about which leader to be the sovereign of South America. Eventually, San Martín went back to Lima where he resigned; particularly, after the chaos (rioting against Monteagudao, the city's ruler in the absence of San Martín) that happened in the city due to not establishing a government or constitution to rule the city, despite setting laws. Subsequently, he wrote to Europe to send a Prince to govern Peru. Then left to Mendoza, his hometown in Argentine, took his daughter (his wife died by tuberculosis), and left to Europe where he lived for over 20 years.

Bolívar refused San Martín's offer to come and develop legislations in Lima because he had other responsibilities. This offer repeated 4 times by the Peruvian leaders including President Riva Agȕero, after San Martín abandoned his city and people. For instance, Puerto Cabello still needed to be liberated; chaos and riots still were going in Pasto due to the union of the royalists with the Spaniards; strengthening military forces in Bogotá, Caracas, Quito, and Guayaquil were required to fight any Spanish attack; and he needed the congress permission to leave Colombia. Eventually, he sent General Sucre and his troops to help Lima, who wrote to Bolívar that the city suffered from anarchy. Luckily, he got approval from the congress and set sail towards Lima.

Lima's patriot army was made of Chileans, Argentines, Venezuelans, and Colombians, and Europeans. The Spaniard General, Canterac, looted the city and its people before running away from Bolívar's army. The latter decided to follow Sucre's advice and let a Peruvian rule the nation. Moreover, Agȕero and Torre Tagle only wanted his help but didn't want him to be their leader! Yet, Bolívar addressed the corruption of the city's administration. Shockingly, Agȕero collaborated with the Spaniards, as he believed that only royalties could rule Peruvians. Consequently, he was arrested and exiled to Chile by General Santa Cruz. At that time, so many accusations and mistrust between Peruvian leaders occurred that risked the freedom of Peru. For instance, Santa Cruz was accused of having ambitions to build his own kingdom in La Paz, his hometown! Such issues worried the Liberator, who believed that freedom of Latin America depends on all cities including Lima and Quito!

El Libertador traveled through Peru, passing by its cities such as Cajamarca, Huaraz, and the cordillera between the Andes. Unfortunately, Argentine and Chile gave up on him and didn't send their fleets, although Páez has liberated Puerto Cabello. In January 1824, he suffered from fever (assumed Tuberculosis) in Pativilca, while traveling from Trujillo to Lima. He was happy to hear about the support to his people's case from the French Bishop, Dominique de Pradt. In February, shamefully Torre Tagle gave up Callao to the Spanish army, who declared the war on Lima. In response, Bolívar asked Sucre to hold his army and then asked the locals to use the cloth, wood, metal, bells and silver of the churches to work on making clothes, bullets, ammunition, and money to his army. In the meantime, he trained his forces to fight the Spaniards, which was reinforced by troops from Guyana and Patagonia. The patriot army made General Olañeta relent by using the advantage of the dispute between him and the Spaniards that resulted in sending Olañeta half the Spanish army headed by General Valdés in a different direction.

Bolívar and Sucre armies met in Huamachuco, then passed through Huánuco until reaching Cerro de Pasco, the silver mine that was robbed by Spain providing it with $12 billion. Upon arrival, the Rabonas, sturdy Indian women, nursed the soldiers. Then soldiers marched to Junín passing by Jauja. In August 1824, Junín Battle between the 2 armies ended in the patriots' victory, esp. that general Canterac underestimated Bolívar's army thinking that they were coward amateurs. In Jauja, Bolívar imposed legislations, and punished every citizen or soldier who looted or raped locals by executing them in the main square. Compared with the Spaniards forces, Bolívar co-patriots and soldiers had the advantage of knowing the geography of their land during the revolution in 1810-1824, as we say in Arabic اهل مكة أدرى بشعابها! Since Angostura Battle, Bolívar's manservant José Palacios, accompanied him during all his battles.

Bolívar was shocked to receive a letter from Bogotá congress ordering him to get back, and that he was stripped from his rank and naming Santander in his place! This was planned by the sly Santander. So in December 1824, the Liberator returned to Lima, where the fever attacked him again. He asked for Pan Americanism, to form a Spanish American confederation. President Monroe then announced his support to Bolívar. The Liberator refused the offer as he already liberated his land and didn't need the help of the US, which refused to help him at the beginning of his revolution! Generals Córdova and Sucre led the patriots against the Spanish army of General Monet in the Battle of Cundurcunca, which also was won by the patriots, liberating Ayacucho. By the end of 1824 and early 1825, the UK and US acknowledged Colombia as a country.

While in Lima in 1825, Bolívar reformed the government, the treasury, legal system, and schools. He also resigned from the leadership of Colombia, leaving its ruling to Santander (Bolívar's man of laws). The Liberator needed to work on building Lima, specifically, that General Olañeta re-attacked Sucre's army, but was killed in the battle, resulting in the surrender of the Spanish troops. Bolívar's stay in Peru was marred by a consequence of assassinations of some of his men, including the deputy Monteagudo and minister José Sánchez Carrión. Bolívar also sent Marshal Sucre (Bolívar's man of war) to La Paz in an attempt to liberate Upper Peru, which eventually became Bolivia in August 1825, calling Bolívar its leader. In Cuzco, El Libertador canceled the race tax, gave rights to colored people to work in high positions that used to be held only by Whites, and built its infrastructure, schools, and the College of Cuzco.

Anarchy led to troubles in the liberated lands (Caracas and Bogotá) due to fights between Páez and Santander. There were troubles also in Chile and Argentina, where the latter had a dispute with Brazil over ruling Banda Oriental (which is now Uruguay). All this resulted from the “divide and conquer” strategy that Spain laid in America. They neither allowed locals to travel from one land to another, nor permitted talking or communicating with each other. Such acts were punishable by law. This resulted in unfriendliness and even hatred between Latin Americans. So Bolívar (man of difficulties) was called to help in solving the disputes to prevent wars between locals. In February 1826, Bolívar entered Callao that was celebrating its liberation.

In the same year, he wrote Bolívar's Constitution that consisted of legislators (senators, tribunes, and censors) and an electoral college. It also protected freedom of speech, work, traveling between regions, eradicated slavery, and stated a president for life for the whole land of Latin America who would have a representative in each state - similar to the US. Nevertheless, Chile and Argentina moderately received it, Colombia celebrated it, the UK praised it except for the ultimate power given to the president, and the US didn't support the latter notion as well as attacked the abolition of slavery. Bolivia approved the constitution months later, when Sucre was elected to be its president. He only accepted this position after asking to stay in it for only 2 years, as he desired to go back to his fiancée in Colombia!

Bolívar dreamt about one South American nation under his leadership and so he called for a meeting (Federation of the Andes that is also named the Congress of Panama) for leaders of the liberated land to which he also invited England. But and against his orders, Santander invited Haiti (lacks Natives and mainly consisted of Blacks), Brazil (it is lined with the Portugal kingdom), and the US (a too White nation). Unfortunately, the meeting was unsuccessful as the Argentines and Brazil declined to attend, Chile didn't join due to internal conflicts, and the Bolivian and American delegates arrived late. So only, Peru, Mexico, Greater Colombia (currently Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, and New Granada), and the Federal Republic of Central America (now includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Chiapas - a southern Mexican state), and the UK attended. The only beneficiary was Britain, which its delegates left with commercial deals.

In July 1826, a plot to assassinate Bolívar was discovered while being in Lima. Peruvians didn't want him to be their leader, and so he left to Colombia. In addition to that he was called by Santander to solve its internal conflicts, leaving Peru in the hand of Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, rebellion occurred in Lima garrisons lead by Bustamante, who wasn't stopped by Santa Cruz. This caused the collapse of the Peruvian government, and imprisonment of Manuela Sáenz who was sent on a ship to Guayaquil. This woman was loved by the people and soldiers because she was the messenger between them and the Liberator!

In January 1827, Bolívar entered Caracas and visited his house where his sister María Antonia, uncle Esteban, and his wet nurse Hipólita met him and supported him till the end. He also met his 17-year old nephew (Fernando, his dead brother's son) who was studying in Philadelphia. They told him that his sister Juana was in the mountains of Barinas. In the meantime, and while traveling in Guayaquil and through Quito to Pasto and Bogotá, Bolívar noticed the misery of the people about which he wrote to Santander. He also discovered that the $30 million loan from Britain was squandered illegally by Santander. And so he called for investigation, but Santander, with his senators, removed Bolívar from presidency since the law was in their hand. They pleaded that Bolívar's used the Colombian money to pay the Colombian army to liberate Peru! But what infuriated Bolívar was Santander's response to what happened in Peru, as he promoted Bustamante to colonel! So in winter 1827, Bolívar gathered troops from Caracas to Cartagena after talking to Paéz, who split from Santander and formed his own government in Caracas. The latter's soldiers joined Bolívar's army and marched to Bogotá to face Santander.

But the congress decided to meet Bolívar and gave him absolute power, because the public wanted Bolívar, their Liberator. This forced Santander to succumb and meet him. Bolívar called for a constitutional congress in Ocaña, where a delegate of each state would vote for a new constitution (edited by Bolívar) versus the old one that was supported by Santander. He supported the British ruling, as he believed that the Natives of South America were in mere ignorance (the work of the colonizers) and still needed time to learn how to practice democracy. So Bolívar believed that it is better to have one leader that unites the states, as well as to have an elected parliament where each state would be presented by a delegate. This was the new constitution, which many delegates believed that the old one must be updated, but they still didn't like to have a leader for life! Unfortunately, and due to many poisonous letters written by Santander stating that Bolívar favored to be king, the delegates voted for the old constitution. In the meantime, the English government supported Bolívar and his constitution, yet Americans were divided. For example, William Tudor switched from being a supporter to a hater. Beaufort Watts and Andrew Jackson saw Bolívar as a strong liberal leader. However, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and William Henry Harrison believed him to be a dictator or a crown hunter.

Thus in late 1827, Bogotá government was ruling 4 states, Venezuela, New Granada, Quito, and Panama. Venezuela finally calmed down under Paéz leadership, and General Flores was able to regulate Ecuador. Yet, Bogotá contained one-third the population of that of Lima, the city of Kings (~25,000 vs. ~75,000). Furthermore, in August 1828, Bolívar swore the oath to be the leader and defender of Colombia. He was called the president-liberator. The government noted that the main goal was to build their nation. In addition to that because the people favored Bolívar over Santander and the country was not ready for quarrels between politicians, Santander was sent to be the Colombian ambassador in the US.


Bolívar El Libertador - The American Liberator - (January 27th 2023) 

Bolívar the American Liberator by Mari Arana is an electrifying historical saga about the man who with help of co-patriots was able to liberate his country Venezuela as well as Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Peru between 1810 and 1825 from the Spanish, who colonized South America for ~350 years. The first Spaniard who exploited New Granada was the missionary Fray Domingo de Las Casas in 1533. The Spaniards imposed harsh rules in the colonies via a document from King Ferdinand in 1480 forbidding the non-Spanish from education, press, working in high/sensitive positions, owning stores, and voting. They also enforced racism in Latin America. For instance, Mantuanos was the highest class in Latin America - descendants of the Spanish conquerors; followed by Creoles (Whites born in the Colonies); and the mixed race who are called Pardos. The latter could be Mestizo (White and Indian), Mulatto (White and Black), and Sambo (Black and Indian). There are also different names for slaves depending on the lightness of their skin: quadroons, quintroons, octoroons, moriscos, coyotes, chamisos, gíbaros, and others.

The book described the descendant of Simón Bolívar from a rich Creole family originating from the Basque. Bolívar had colored roots from his father side, since his grandmother was an illegitimate daughter of a relationship between her dad and a maid whose color isn't identified. Simón was born in 1783 in Caracas to Don Juan Vicente and Doña Concepcíon Palacios. Nursed and raised by the Black slave Hipólita. He had 3 older siblings; María Antonia (6 years), Juana (5 years), and Juan Vicente (2 years). Unfortunately, tuberculosis took his dad and mom when he was 3 and 9 years old, respectively. So the Palacios family took care of the children and ran their inheritance (haciendas in the valley of Aragua, a copper mine, cattle ranches, rum distillery, and fields of fruits, sugar, cocoa, and indigo). But Simón's uncles (Carlos, Esteban, and Juan Félix Palacios and others) neglected him. He was a mischievous child who used to run away from his tutor and play in the backstreets with the lower class kids! This wasn't accepted by many Mantuanos. Eventually Simón was guided by Father Simón Rodírguez, who educated him about liberty and egalitarianism by reading Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and other philosophers esp. from the Renaissance period.

In 1799, Bolívar left to Spain seeking adventure and education, stopping by Mexico for about 7 weeks where he mingled in the Mexican society. Then left to Madrid where Marquis of Ustáriz hired tutors to teach Bolívar. In the meantime, he met María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro. After a 2-year engagement that was objected by her dad, they got married and left to Caracas where she died after 8 months by yellow fever. She was his true love after whom he didn't marry but had numerous relationships. The most woman hated by his men was Pepita Machado due to participating in making decisions. Yet Manuela Sáenz was a colonel who saved his life more than once, was assigned in his liberating army, and stayed with him until his death.

Bolívar then traveled to France where he was amazed by Napoleon for some time until the latter crowned himself Emperor and became a dictator. The novel also shed light on the way Napoleon fooled King Carols IV, wife, and son, and conquered Spain and Portugal. Accordingly, Queen Maria and a thousand of the royal family left Portugal to Brazil in 1807. In 1808 and after Napoleon conquered Spain, a group of Creoles formed resistance and declared the first independence of South America. It started in Quito and spread to Buenos Aires, Bogotá, and Mexico. Yet this was brutally faced by the Spaniards, led by Marshal Emparan. Later Bolívar met his exiled mentor Símon Rodríguez, and traveled with him and Fernando Tel Toro (Teresa's cousin) to Italy in 1805 enjoying the Roman history and Caesar's glory. On top of Monte Sacro he pledged to God and his mates to liberate his country till his last breath. 

Bolívar met the British Foreign minister, the Marquis of Wellesley in London in 1810, who refused to recognize the independence of the Spanish colonies because he wanted to maintain the trade relationships with Spain. In the same year, the Juntas of Caracas were established by royalists to rule Spanish colonies in place of the impeached King Ferdinand. They fought the colonizers but failed in obtaining freedom, thus were replaced by the Regency. The Regency ruled their nation, which reached Caracas, and restricted voting only for the Spanish! This was faced by rejection by many people including Bolívar and his Creoles acquaintances. Between 1810 and 1814, the most vicious Spaniard General was José Boves. He led the Legions of Hell, who was supportive of the Royalists (Regency in the colonies), and therefore did horrible crimes against the natives. His division burned villages, assaulted women, butchered citizens of every city and village…etc.

Later Bolívar met Miranda, the arrogant leader who tried to liberate the Spanish America but failed, and therefore was hated by Mantuanos. But Bolívar convinced him to try again. The fight began in 1811 but failed after several months, particularly due to Miranda's lack of leadership and betrayal. For instance, he feared for his life, thus agreed to surrender to the Spaniards' General Monteverde in the garrison of Puerto Cabello, who promised him a prize. Nonetheless, Monteverde imprisoned him till he died. Noteworthy that Miranada called for slave's insurrection to assist in fighting the colonizers in 1812.

On the other hand, Bolívar's brother was sent with co-patriots to buy ammunition form the US but sadly, their ship was wrecked by a storm that killed them. However, the republicans freed Valencia, and Bolívar hoped to get to Caracas via Cartagena after uniting with New Granada (currently Columbia). Spaniards also used the race card, they convinced the colored (Blacks and Indians) that the Whites will enforce slavery and that Spaniards were better rulers than Creoles or Mantuanos, which worked. The colored Americans joined the Spanish army fighting against Bolívar, Del Toro, and Miranda's armies. Luckily, Bolívar's family friend Iturbe helped him depart to Curaçao, leaving his estates robbed by the Spaniards.

In December 1812, Bolívar didn't give up; he borrowed money and left to New Granada (Tunja, Cartagena, and Bogotá) with his co-patriots to buy ammunition and recruit fighters. To do so, he wrote the famous "Cartagena Manifesto", describing the reasons behind their loss. Bolívar announced the end of slavery in June 1816 and asked all races to participate in getting rid of the Spaniards. With the help of General Labatut, they marched to Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Tenerife crossing the river heading towards Mompox, Ocaña, and Trujillo, liberating them. Then he tried uniting Granadans to liberate Venezuela. He and General Mariño succeeded in defeating the enemy at the Magdalena River, liberating East Venezuela. Bolívar was a sturdy athletic man, who used to endure long hours and days of riding on his horse (Palomo), which is why he was called 'Iron Ass'. Next, Bolívar entered Caracas in 1813 at which he was called El Libertador. Five months later, he addressed the public to choose their government and resigned. But he was re-elected. Unfortunately, Bolívar was betrayed by Piar who started a race war against him. So he was captured and shot in 1814. This saddened Bolívar, yet he had to be strict to prevent insurgency. What made it worse was the rebellion of Manuel del Castillo and Santander, who were jealous and didn't fully support him. This resulted in losing Cartagena. Nevertheless, other patriots assisted him including his uncle Palacios, nephew Leandro Palacios, cousin Florencio Palacios, his neighbor Antonio Briceño, his auntie's husband José Félix Ribas, Generals Sucre, Girardot, Urdaneta, Bermúdez, Soublette, Ducoudray, Montilla, and Arsimendi (liberated La Guaira).

So Bolívar left to Kingston trying to get finance from Wellesley but with no success. Yet a Jewish wealthy Dutch merchant (Luis Brion) provided him with a battle ship. In addition, an English merchant (Maxwell Hyslop) gave him a loan to restart his revolution. In 1816, the Spanish general Morillo enforced a law allowing his soldiers to kill and attack any revolutionary or anyone dealing with them. It is the same year Bolívar set sail from Haiti to Venezuela to start a 3rd revolution. Unluckily, there were traitors who transported false messages between Bolívar and his co-leaders resulting in losing the battle, calling him a traitor! Even Bermúdez tried killing him, which forced him to run away to Haiti.

A few months later, Arsimendi and the leaders who attacked Bolívar earlier approached him asking to lead them. They discovered that Bolívar, with his charisma and strategic leadership, was the only one capable of liberating their land. So he returned and joined Páez and others to attack the Spaniards. They liberated Angostura (currently Ciudad Bolivar) and San Félix. In 1817, he set out for Guyana during which he was betrayed by Mariño (Liberator of the East). The latter went East instead of West of Venezuela to form a new government for himself. This resulted in losing Barcelona and Casa Fuerte. Yet, Venezuelans ignored Mariño's leadership, who was later forgiven by Bolívar. Bolívar however, liberated Guyana before leaving to fight in Barcelona. During these rough times, the Royalists tried to kill or poison Bolívar a few times! In fact, once a traitor attacked Bolívar's tent but instead he killed one of his entourage since the Liberator was in the town.

In 1817, General San Martín (kicked the Spanish from Argentina) helped Bolívar in fighting the Spaniards in the icy Andes and Chile. He also asked the help of Paéz - the Lion of Apure and liberator of llanos plains and Apure. They fought Boves’ and Morillo’s armies, liberating San Fernando and Calabazo after going into a bloody fight, during which their armies were much smaller than that of the colonizers! In June 1817, Bolívar fought by establishing a newspaper 'El Correo del Orinoco' that informed Spanish Americans, who Spain wanted to keep them ignorant, about what was happening in the world! It counteracted the false news published in the Spanish paper 'Gaceta de Caracas.' Moreover, Bolívar's agent in London, Luis López Méndez assisted in recruiting men from England and Ireland to fight in his army in 1817. Within 5 years, over 5000 Europeans joined his revolution since their countries were suffering from famine!

Afterwards, General Paéz left to fight in New Granada whereas Bolívar returned to Angostura via the snake-infested Orinoco to appoint the Second National Congress, before joining Paéz and other leaders (Soublette, Briceño Mendez, James Rooke, and José Anzoátegui) to liberate New Granada. They succeeded in forcing the Spaniards to withdraw by attacking them from the top of Páramo de Pisba, after crossing the Apure and Arauca Rivers (filled with crocodiles and vultures), tolerating the torrential rain and savannas floods in Casanare, and the icy Andes, particularly the Páramo de Pisba. They fought Barreiro's army valiantly in August of 1819 in Boyacá, and continued to liberate Bogotá from which the Spaniards had already ran away! In Bogotá, Bolívar (36 years) was received gallantly by the Granadans. In this war, he lost 2 co-leaders who were decapitated, president Torices and Camilo Torres. Yet, Bolívar and other co-patriots worked on liberating other cities including Coro, Cartagena, Cúcuta, Pasto, and Quito.

In Bogotá, El Libertador founded a government by setting laws, a court, and police system; assigning war and interior ministers; building schools, and houses for orphans and war-widows; canceled the King Ferdinand taxes and fined priests who aided the Spaniards! He also left Santander in charge of the city before leaving to Venezuela. Santander established the legal foundation of Colombia. But he was a self-absorbed money-lover who rejected emancipation of slaves. In the meantime, the Liberator felt so lonely and missed his mistress Pepita who died trying to reach him, esp. that he lost contact with his family and sisters who were mourning their spouses. He found a new woman, Bernardina who refused him and married her lover, officer Plaza.

In Venezuela, Bolívar discovered that his co-patriot Anzoátegui, the fighter of Bocyocá, died. In addition, the other co-leaders disregarded his orders. For instance, Paéz didn't check on the west, Mariño didn't support Bermúdez, Arismendi rebelled and started a revolution that caused his imprisonment, and vice president Zea orders were overlooked. So Bolívar returned in December to Angostura. His prudence helped in maintaining the law by ignoring what his co-patriots did, because he needed them to expel the colonizers once and for all! So he re-assigned them, Zea as vice-president of Angostura, and Arismendi ruled Margarita. Then he addressed the Congress to establish the Republic of Greater Colombia. The Congress also voted for Bolívar to be the Republic's president, Zea his vice-president, and Santander and Roscio as vice-presidents of New Granada and Venezuela, respectively. Then, Bolívar set the road to Caracas after ordering his co-leaders to assist him to liberate it. Urdaneta moved to Caracas, Soublette left to Orinoco, Bermúdez located in Apure, and Paéz to attack from the west.

In January 1820, the Spanish monarchy rejected Morillo's military support request, as the King feared having the same bloody end of that of King Luis XVI of France. At this moment, Morillo understood that his only option to survive and go back to his bride was to negotiate a peace treaty. He met with Bolívar on Nov 27 in Santa Ana, where they signed ceasefire agreement. The new republic was recognized by England and the US (esp. after buying Florida from Spain). Bolívar's revolution mainly was supported by Henry Clay – a congressman from Kentucky, stating that the 18,000,000 Latin Americans were fighting for liberation. Nonetheless, he was hated and attacked by Baptis Irvine, a reporter who considered Clay a charlatan. While Bolívar was trying to liberate Caracas, the citizens of Guayaquil (Ecuador) fought and acquired their independence.  

El Libertador also wrote to Spain asking them to announce the complete freedom of the colonies but they refused, not knowing that their army was rickety. He needed to kick the Spaniards who primarily were residing in Puerto Cabello. So his plan was to deceive the Spanish by forcing them to split their army. He directed Bermúdez to attack the Spaniards in Caracas. He also commanded Páez and Urdaenta to join his force and hit Miguel de La Torre's soldiers (commander of the Spaniards after Morels left to Spain) in Carabobo. This was known as the Battle of Carabobo, the major combat in Greater Colombia that occurred in June 1821. In July 1821, Bolívar assigned Páez (after promoting him to general in chief) and Mariño leaders of western Venezuela, and Bermúdez to rule the eastern side. Before this, he wrote to Nariño (the temporary vice president of Colombia) complaining that all the good men/politicians are dead and the ones left are corrupt. He attributed these bad qualities to the 300 years of being brutally colonized. For instance, Spanish Americans were abused, enslaved, and kept illiterate, making them unfriendly and even antagonistic, which miserably was exacerbated by the 10-year war. Thus, he believed that democracy couldn't work, not until the people are educated and enlightened!