Sheryl Sorrentino

A Warning/A Review

December 8, 2019
A Warning/A Review


A Warning/A Review

December 8, 2019
I was going to give A Warning five glowing stars. It is compelling, well-argued, well-written and singularly engrossing. And despite the fact that (as noted by other reviewers) there is “nothing new” here, if anything should breathe renewed life into our comatose, war-weary national debate, the “same-old” alarm bells blaring on these pages should, submitted as they are by the proverbial “fly on the wall”. Any voter of rational sensibility who cares a whit about Democracy ought be staggered and disgusted anew. My one-star “ding” is due to the following derelictions: First, the author suggests that some anti-Trumpers suffer from “Trump derangement syndrome” because we reject everything and anything the pr*sident says. Granted, even a broken clock is right twice a day, as the saying goes. But when right-thinking Americans are subjected to so much idiocy, inanity and malice from the pr*sident on a daily basis, we cannot be expected to give a fair and impartial assessment to each bit of drivel emitted from Donald Trump’s foul mouth. Frankly, the author speaks out of both sides of their own mouth when, on the one hand, they (I refer to Anonymous as “they” since we do not know their gender) invest 272 pages trying to scare the citizenry straight by confirming that, indeed, the so-called commander-in-chief is an unstable, unfit, dishonest and corrupt thug; but on the other hand, those who consistently react negatively to Trump are deranged and suffer from a “syndrome”. Puh-lease. Unless you are part of Trump’s “cult”, you, your friends and loved ones and all that you hold dear are being attacked from the bully pulpit on a daily basis. From where I stand, a strong, repulsed knee-jerk reaction to those attacks is 100% appropriate. Trump forfeited the right to any “benefit of the doubt” the day of his inauguration (which Anonymous recognizes as the acrimonious tragedy it was)—if not before. Second, the author argues that, despite Trump’s innumerable naked disqualifications, impeachment is too divisive, and the next election should determine whether this so-called pr*sidency terminates or continues for four more years. I might be swayed by that argument if the pr*sident were not attempting to tamper with said upcoming election. It has been well established—as the author concedes—that Russia tipped the scales in 2016. Those of us who voted for the qualified candidate in 2016 are still reeling from the fact that our election was attacked, and nothing is being done about it. Not only are we being asked to accept the “legitimate” electoral distorters (e.g., gerrymandering, voter suppression, the Electoral College), we are now supposed to ignore Donald Trump’s flagrant solicitation of a foreign power (Ukraine) to investigate a political opponent—not to mention his not-so-subtle nods to Russia and China for a repeat performance of 2016. Having lost all faith in the legitimacy of the upcoming election, I for one feel strongly that impeachment—successful or not—is imperative as a symbol of resistance, if nothing else. Third, I question the author’s final “warning” that Democrats must nominate a centrist as their candidate in 2020, in order to win over “swing voters” and “moderates”. That point might have some validity had Mitch McConnell not blocked Barack Obama’s centrist nominee to the Supreme Court (Merrick Garland) in 2016. Democrats consistently try to appease phantom “moderates” and “swing voters”, and lose whenever they do (think Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry). The last best example of the Democrats’ star power was Barack Obama, the first Black president and a two-term winner. The sad reality is that Republicans don’t play by the rules (and haven’t for decades); until they clean up their act and “play fair”, Anonymous has zero right (or credibility) to offer advice to Democrats. The fact is, an overwhelming majority of Americans support progressive Democratic policies—a woman’s right to choose, affordable housing and health care, preservation of the environment, and a living wage. Anonymous, an admitted Republican enabler of Trump’s tyrannical minority rule—has no right to opine on who the next Democratic nominee should be. Despite the above failings—and they are significant—I commend the author for making a chilling and earnest case for ousting the thug-in-chief pronto. I hope Trump supporters—whether voters or elected officials—take heed (though I seriously doubt they will). The author also makes an excellent point that Congress reflects the electorate at large; until we (as in the respective “bases”) stop being so uncompromising and polarized, there is little chance that Congress will rise above our own gridlock, as they merely reflect back at us the behavior we demand of them. (However, we will gain no ground in our national healing until Russia is made to stay out of the mix by whatever means necessary. I see no signs of Republicans supporting that effort. So again, don’t ask those of us on the right side of history to embrace our fellow countrymen and women until they unequivocally get behind this most uncontroversial mandate.) I will offer my own parting shot to voters: If by some miracle Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren manages to win the Democratic nomination, we’d better make damned sure to also take back the Senate and hold the House. Anything less, and it won’t really matter who the president is. We will spend four (or eight) more years helplessly watching America crumble.

Musings on Thanksgiving and Family

November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving is a time for family, so naturally it starts me thinking about what, exactly, family is. Coming from a troubled and toxic family of origin, and not having spoken to my one remaining family member (my brother) since February, I think I’ve given this topic more thought than your average person. So I am taking the liberty of sharing my ramblings on family with you this Thanksgiving.

Broken down to its most basic elements, families are supposed to provide love and support. Families are, indeed, the foundational building blocks of society, so when they fail in one or both of these essential functions, it is, at minimum, disappointing and hurtful, and more typically psychologically, physically, and spiritually devastating. I am here to tell you why it is okay—imperative, even—not to spend Thanksgiving with unloving, unsupportive family members.

Let’s examine these two core functions of family: Whereas “love” refers to a family member’s subjective intention toward you, “support” speaks to their outward behavior. I’m not just talking about material support, as in food, housing, and paying the bills. Sadly, many families are mostly about that; if material support is adequate (or better than), family members may tolerate varying degrees of deficiency on the “love” side of the equation.

We have the right to expect that our close family members will do what they can to help us when we need it (at least insofar as their “help” won’t enable us to do harm to ourselves). But support goes beyond the physical/material/economic. How do your family members treat you, how do they speak to you? Do they value you as a human being? Do they respect your goals and dreams? Do they accept who you choose to love? Do they listen open-mindedly to what you think and feel and at least try to understand your perspective? If so, then you should feel lucky to have those people in your life. Today, try to disregard their foibles and shortcomings, as in reasonable doses of “annoying,” “self-absorbed,” and less-than-perfect listening and communication skills.

But while family relationships may feel “mandatory”—and to a certain degree they are more obligatory than other relationships—they are no different than any other relationship in the sense that they cannot be one-sided and function in a healthy, mutually-fulfilling way. So you should ask yourself not only whether you receive love and support from your family members, but whether you give it in return. If your honest answer is “no,” you either need to clean up your own act and “up your game” in that relationship, or let that person go. Maybe you have good reason to loathe or disdain a particular family member, in which case you have no business accepting their material support. And if there is someone you do not want in your life (family or otherwise), then it is kinder and more ethical to not accept their love and support while offering nothing in return.

Love and support don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand; we each need to decide whether one or the other is enough to sustain a familial (or any other) relationship. Plenty of people profess “love” in familial relationships, but don’t have anything to do with one another except at Thanksgiving. If that family member isn’t someone you’d feel comfortable asking for advice or sharing your genuine self with—or someone you’d be willing to listen to openly or help out in a jam—then are they really worth your precious time on an already stressful holiday? Only you can answer that.

Conversely, plenty of folks get financial help or other “favors” from family members that comes with lots of strings attached. The motivation behind such “help” may or may not be “love” in the donor's mind, but if it doesn’t feel loving on the receiving end, then it probably isn’t. If a material/financial connection leaves you feeling “bad” or “dirty,” then it probably isn’t being offered with a loving intent. Again, only you can decide whether compromising yourself in this way is worth it. Since such “gifts” typically come with an implicit quid pro quo that you spend time (holidays at minimum) with your benefactor, then you’d better show up to Thanksgiving dinner today with pumpkin pie in hand, unless and until you come to realize that the true price of such “support” is too high for your conscience to tolerate.

Many families will spend uncomfortable Thanksgivings—together or apart—today because of You-Know-Who. He has let loose some of the ugliest impulses in our already flawed society, and it has affected and split many families apart, mine included. Michael Moore says that “racists and misogynists should be shunned,” and I agree, except I would add “homophobes” and “xenophobes” to the list. We are allowed to quarantine those family members, to give them a temporary or permanent “time out” to let them know they have forfeited their place in our inner circles and dining tables. Sad though it may be, hatefulness is never loving or supportive. If you are such a loving person that you can tolerate hatefulness without becoming diminished or infected by it, then perhaps you are a better person than I. But I also think it takes strength and integrity to take a stand, draw a line, and stand up for what you believe is right.

One final thought: Being part of a functional human family is essential for our survival. Because we don’t get to choose our families of origin, and not all of us are fortunate enough to have created new families as adults, we need to rethink and expand our definition of family—the larger the better. Our human family includes our friends, coworkers, bosses, the checker at the supermarket, our neighbors. Beyond our inner circles of friends, there is our larger community and its various institutions. Indeed, it includes the economy at large, so it matters how we treat the folks we must deal with every day in order to survive—doctors, lawyers, auto mechanics, insurance agents, waiters, the homeless, to name just a few. These relationships—however fleeting—set the tone and functionality of our human family. If we are unkind, selfish, or unjust toward the members of our extended human family, we are guilty of breaching the basic tenet of family, i.e., to give and receive love and support. Likewise, when insurance companies, banks, pharmaceutical companies, Facebook, and our government cheat and scam us, treat us with disregard, misuse our personal information, or manipulate and oppress us financially, then they are breaching that same tenet on a massively destructive and immoral scale. The world would be a far better place if the people running these institutions would rethink their own definition of “family.”

Wishing you all a happy and safe Thanksgiving, however, and with whomever, you spend it.


"White Like Me" Proves that Racism is Alive and Well

August 12, 2018
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged SonWhite Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

White Like Me takes no prisoners in exposing this country's sordid racial history and its present-day vestiges, which every thinking person should realize are alive and well—thriving, in fact, under this current administration. He takes an admittedly squirm-worthy subject matter and makes it superbly understandable through his user-friendly, almost "folksy" chronicle of his personal life experiences of white privilege. I couldn't put this book down, which is usually not the case for me with non-fiction writers. Indeed, this racial exposé that is equal parts memoir truly makes the political personal, which is exactly what this nation needs if we are ever to have a "white awakening."

That being said, this book is not perfect. While overall it's a five-star read, it contains a half-dozen or so annoying typos ("your" for "you're"; "effect" for "affect"; and others I noticed but didn't initially mark because I wasn't expecting so many). I see White Like Me was published by a small press in Berkeley, California, so I can somewhat forgive this. But for as important as the subject matter is (especially with a "racist-in-chief" occupying the Oval Office), the otherwise excellent job Mr. Wise does shedding sunshine on darkness could stand a fine-toothed editing so that its presentation is equally excellent. Also, Mr. Wise, like many storytellers allowed to expound on important political/social issues through uncensored personal vignettes, sometimes veers afield or draws questionable conclusions from his personal experiences. But this is nothing that said "edit" couldn't fix.

For example, while I generally agree with the author's argument that "political power," when held by people of color, does not necessarily translate to "economic power," his example of the Prime Minister of Bermuda does not hold up to intellectual scrutiny. Alex Scott (the Black Bermudian PM) was made to apologize to a white political opponent for an anti-white comment he made via email. I daresay that (before January 2017 at least) had a white U.S. politician made a similar comment about being "sick-and-tired" of receiving criticism from people who "look like" thus-and-such Black person, he (or she) would have been chastised and forced to apologize. Mitt Romney's ("those people" don't even pay taxes") remark probably cost him the 2012 election. So while I do not disagree that Black elected officials too often have to kowtow to the sensibilities of white opponents and constituents (one need look no further than Barack Obama to see this phenomenon in play), I think the above Bahamian example falls flat.

Other than these minor weaknesses, White Like Me is a powerful read, made all the more compelling because it is written by a privileged white male—one who recognizes that being Jewish (like being gay) does not automatically obliterate one's white advantage, and who has truly put his money where his mouth by dedicating his life to exposing and combating racism. His oft-repeated example about how his grandparents' home (in a racially-redlined district) helped finance his college education, while tiring in its repetitiveness, hit home for me. My father, lacking even a high-school diploma, was able to buy a ten-room home in a solid, all-white neighborhood with good schools and virtually no crime. It abutted a tonier town across the city line. All throughout my life, I, a veritable "nobody" with no connections, saw doors magically open as I got my education and sought higher-paying jobs and better opportunities. First, by virtue of my (actual) Jewish last name, I was (nod, nod; wink, wink) invited with open arms into probably a dozen predominantly Jewish law firms in various roles over the course of my career. Second, when I told interviewers, in all types of jobs, where I had grown up, the knowing nods affirmed me as being "one of them" despite my sketchy-upbringing, despite being half-Jewish and half-Italian, despite being female, and despite being solidly lower middle-class/borderline "white trash." That childhood address branded me a well-raised, solidly middle-class white girl who had come up on the "right side of the tracks." I moved seamlessly from cashier in high school, to secretary and paralegal in college and law school, and ultimately to attorney at large and "exclusive" law firms on both coasts. Had I been a Black woman from the Bronx sitting for those same job interviews, I seriously doubt those doors would have flung open so easily.

I think it is extremely important for every white person, regardless of background or economic station, to take stock of how their skin color has advantaged them—to whatever degree. That task honestly and humbly completed, we have an obligation to speak out whenever and however we can to acknowledge the disparities in treatment that have so benefited us compared to our brothers and sisters of color. We must recognize "white backlash" and so-called "reverse discrimination" for precisely what they are: white angst and resentment not about unfair treatment, but simply about being asked to cede a tiny bit of our privilege so that others might have a shot at the things all of us want: a decent, safe place to live; a job with a living wage; a good education for our children. Even that small bit of recognition and "sharing" is apparently too much for white people to abide and get behind. How shameful.

White apathy to racial injustice is pervasive, because that injustice benefits white people and is largely invisible to us. It is so embedded into our legal system and social fabric that we view racial injustice—if we acknowledge it at all—as something happening "out there" someplace else to someone else—to "those people" about whom we might not especially care because we're essentially doing okay. And even if we do care, what are we supposed to do about it anyway? Shouldn't "they" just "get over it" and "move on"? And how can anything we say or do possibly help move the needle?

I loved Wise's allegory of a new CEO who had just taken over a multi-billion dollar corporation. He blithely tells his CFO that he plans to ignore the liabilities column of the balance sheet because "he wasn't there" when those liabilities were incurred. Too many white people argue that "my family never owned slaves" (if that happens to be true—many white families can trace their roots—and their privilege—back to slave-owning families) or "I never personally oppressed Black people," ignoring the fact that each and every one of us has been born into a system with unpaid liabilities on its balance sheet, those being the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement and continued separation of Black and brown people. To quote Mr. Wise: "The notion of utilizing assets but not paying debts is irresponsible, to say nothing of unethical. Those who reap the benefits of past actions and the privileges that have come from whiteness are certainly among those [who] have an obligation to take responsibility for our use of those benefits." How true, typo notwithstanding.

As for what difference anything I do can make, Mr. Wise argues compellingly that ultimately "winning" the battle is beside the point. There is a long and largely ignored history of white resistance to racism and injustice in this country, and it behooves decent white people to identify with that version of our white heritage and to join in. Resisting racism, standing on the right side of these issues, and taking the moral high-ground (rather than standing idly on the sidelines while this ugly battle rages)—that is the point. It boils down to what sort of person you want to be, and what sort of life you want to live. For every one of us white folk—and especially those who call themselves Christian or "people of faith"—there is no more important question to answer in this lifetime.

I was also persuaded by the author's arguments as to why racism and unequal treatment harm not only people of color, but white people, too. Systematic unfair advantage presumes that white people aren't good enough to "make it" without the head start and "leg-up" we implicitly and undeservedly expect as our birthright. This allows too many mediocre white people to excel while only the most spectacular people of color are allowed similar gains. It lumps all white people into the same selfish, ignorant, clueless "basket of deplorables" in the eyes of our darker-skinned brothers and sisters, when many (most?) of us can, should, and in fact want to "do better" by them.

Just as our current pr*sident has given license to white supremacists to "come out of the woodwork" with their tiki torches and vile rhetoric, Mr. Wise gives moral imperative to decent, right-thinking white people to "show up" and SPEAK UP. For that message alone, for that permission, Mr. Wise's book deserves five stars.

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"A Little Life" is a Little Too Huge

July 22, 2018
A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was convinced about a third of the way through that this book would be a five-star read and one of my all-time faves. But when an author writes an 800+ page saga, she had better be darned sure that the last 500 pages are just as engaging as the first 300. Sadly, that was not the case here.

Yanagihara's writing is admittedly strong (although there's an awful lot of "telling" going on), and the story--while depressing--is a compelling one. But it peaks somewhere around the end of the first third and then loses steam from there. The last 100 pages felt torturous, like a botched tooth extraction. I found myself losing patience and simply wanting this thing to end. I also felt resentful that this obviously talented author couldn't tell her story more efficiently. Truly, there is no fathomable reason why this book needs to be 814 pages, other than ego-based self-indulgence, which is a form of reader abuse.

One reason for the unnecessary heft is the many poorly-developed secondary characters (friends, their lovers who come and go, neighbors, mentors, co-workers, spouses of the above, etc.); I could not keep track of them all. There are also way too many meaningless and repetitive dinners and get-togethers. But that wasn't even my biggest problem with this story.

The "take away" is supposed to be that the protagonist, Jude St. Francis, suffered horrible, unspeakable (literally) abuse for the first 15 years of his life (parsed out stingily in various "information dumps" over the first 600 pages or so); and while Jude managed to go to college and become a successful attorney, his inability to speak about or process his horrific past in any meaningful way eats away at him (literally) for the next four decades. This is itself a valid, plausible, and interesting proposition. But the author doesn't stop there.

Jude St. Francis starts out as a government lawyer at the U.S. attorney's office. Somewhat early on, however, he quits that job to work for a corporate law firm, a veritable sweatshop where he works six or seven days a week, often until midnight or all night. Meanwhile, despite being physically unavailable 20 out of 24 hours each day, and despite remaining on a personal level a closed, damaged, and at times abrasive human being with a vice grip commitment to preventing any true form of intimacy, Jude somehow magically draws to him a cadre of loving, loyal lifelong friends, a "pro-bono" on-call physician, and a partner like Willem (who is a world-renowned actor, no less). Okaaaaay . . . . .

I accept that there are many instances in this book--indeed, fiction in general, when we are asked to suspend disbelief (e.g., the similar meteoric career rise of Jude's three friends), and I am usually happy to do so. But the notion that such a psychologically damaged, socially meek, and physically weak and vulnerable character as Jude would be able to sustain--much less thrive under--the crushing, non-stop demands of a high-profile law firm is beyond preposterous to me. As an attorney familiar with such places, I can tell you Jude would not have lasted a year. His relentless work schedule exhausted me, even as the author conveniently glossed over how socially and physically draining these demands would be to the hardiest among us. I'm sorry, the author cannot, on the one hand, spend 800+ pages hammering home the myriad ways in which Jude's ghosts preclude him from living a full life--from loving freely, from having sex, from not mutilating himself, from functioning--and on the other expect readers to believe that he sheds those disabilities like Clark Kent and turns into Superlawyer when he walks through the doors of Rosen Pritchard (or whatever it's called). And then, when he deigns to come home to shower or keep a social engagement, this stubborn, self-destructive, and uncompromising individual magically draws to him and sustains a cadre of loving, loyal friends and a partner like Willem.

Jude is a person who, in real life, would live a lonely and isolated life--not due to his physical limitations so much as his emotional ones. In this story, he leads a charmed and socially-embraced one despite his own best efforts to ruin every good thing (other than Rosen Pritchard) that comes his way. But even that "stretch", in and of itself, would not have made me dislike this book. In the end, the stretching of this tale over a tiresome 814 pages is what ultimately did the trick.

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The Book of Unknown Americans

March 24, 2018
The Book of Unknown AmericansThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5. The Book of Unknown Americans is a hidden gem that I happened to pick up (as an audio book) before a long drive. It is a moving and touching story about the budding romance between Maribel Rivera, who suffered brain damage in Mexico following an accident, and Mayor Toro, a shy teenage boy who is able to see through Maribel's limitations, and even her physical allure, to the beautiful soul within. The story is told against the backdrop of a group of immigrants living in an apartment building in Delaware. The central characters are the Riveras—Arturo, Alma and Maribel—who have recently immigrated from Mexico, and the more "established" Toros—Mayor and his parents, Cecilia and Rafael—who immigrated from Panama years earlier to escape that country's violence.

The Book of Unknown Americans has a valuable place in our current national debate over immigration. At its core, it shows that immigrants—legal and illegal both—are simply human beings with human stories and problems and challenges; people who crave—and deserve—a chance at a better life and should not be condemned for pursuing better circumstances; and, for all that they might gain, immigrants pay a high price for uprooting their lives and attempting to set down roots in the U.S.

The Riveras' story is gripping and heartbreaking. Alma is the voice of this family, and she tells her tale with uncensored emotion. I was pleasantly startled by the appearance, for the first time, of Arturo in the very last chapter, when for whatever reason, we do not hear from him directly before that. Through his wife's eyes, we learn he is a good man and is an endearing character (whereas Cecilia's husband, Rafael, is not) despite the strains in their marriage and his human frailties. Nevertheless, introducing Arturo's voice at that late stage, given what had happened to him previously, was a bold if confusing creative move.

I would give this book five stars but for the extraneous characters (e.g., the building owner; the busybody neighbor "Quisqueya", who is supposed to be Puerto Rican but whose name refers to the island of Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic in particular). For me, they detracted from the plot's momentum and also injected a flippant quality to an otherwise somber tale. Perhaps that was the author's intent.

Despite some quibbles, I think The Book of Unknown Americans is a notable work that merits a thoughtful read.

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Yellow Crocus

March 24, 2018
Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this book. It was a short and gripping read, both the early chapters focused on Mattie and the later ones centered around Lisbeth. Many have criticized its portrayal of slavery as not being brutal enough, but I disagree, seeing as how the story depicts quite accurately how slaves essentially had no dominion over their own bodies. Mattie is wrested from her own infant to provide milk to the mistress's newborn; she is later whipped when her husband escapes from a neighboring plantation. Mattie's son, Samuel, has no say when he is sold away from his mother (Mattie) at the young age of ten. And, most poignantly, a young, nameless slave girl has no say when Lisbeth's betrothed decides to "relieve his needs" by raping her under a willow tree. I don't need more graphic blood and gore to get the picture.

Mattie is a beautiful character whose fortitude, faith and graciousness are not obscured by her inhumane lot in life. Lisbeth is an unexpectedly sympathetic character grappling with the inextricable role her own station in life plays in the systemic injustices perpetuated upon her nurse and the fallacy of her mother's and fiance's flimsy justifications for slavery's unseemly way of life.

I especially love that the book is written by a local (Berkeley) author and possibly self-published (through Amazon). And I found the original cover haunting. This is clearly a real photograph, possibly of an actual slave and her charge. The young Black woman's mouth is blocked by the baby's head, which is apt if unintended symbolism. And her eyes, though not terribly clear, express unmistakable pain and sadness.

Highly recommend.

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Three Weeks With My Brother

March 24, 2018
Three Weeks With My BrotherThree Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas Sparks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, but I choose to round down because this book has gotten a lot of hype which perhaps left me feeling disappointed.

The story wasn't what I expected. It's formatted as one part travel guide, one part memoir. I found the travel portions somewhat boring, inasmuch as I thought this would be a travel adventure in the vein of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, or a life-and-death nail-biter like 127 Hours.

In contrast, the memoir is a sweet tribute to the enduring love between two brothers who have suffered a disproportionate amount of neglect and loss and yet conduct themselves with humor and good grace. But their individual and shared misfortunes are tempered by incredible good fortune in becoming a millionaire author and businessman, respectively. And their saintly wives--I mean, what woman with five kids (and a mostly unhelpful writer husband whose primary "chore" is getting the mail so he can escape the household chaos) says, with a smile on her face, "Sure honey, take this three week around-the-world vacation with your brother while I stay here taking care of our five kids"?! I confess I lost all affinity with the author from that moment forward.

That being said, Three Weeks With My Brother contained enough touching moments and moving passages to keep me engaged and earn a "better than average" rating.

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On Hiatus

February 18, 2018
I have not blogged of late, and while I have begun writing a seventh novel (Leaving the U.S. for Parts Unknown), it quickly became the casualty of my first case of severe writer's block.

I have decided to take a break while our country splutters on life support. Writing fiction feels frivolous to me right now. Setting our nation back on course feels like the more pressing object of my limited time, attention and activism.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me to date. I have six wonderful novels available for your entertainment and enjoyment, each one unique and unconventional in its own right. One way or another, I promise I will be back.

Land of the Freaked and the Home of the Dazed

December 10, 2016

Trolling for sample emails and information about imploring electoral college electors to “vote their conscience,” I stumbled upon some alarming and sobering comments from people who have already done so and been rebuked by these haughty public officials. Case in point: a woman who emailed the electoral college only to receive the following (highly abridged) response to her very innocuous email:

“Nice try though to get Electors to place their personal opinion above the will of the people.

Please note that, in my state, Elector voting is regulated by state law (i.e, Electors are bound by state law in regards to how each will vote). Also in my state, encouraging someone to violate a law is a CRIME. Since you are encouraging me to violate a state law, I have turned your email request over to the proper legal authorities for their handling as to a legal disposition. Good luck with that. Signed: 7th Congressional Chairman GOP

Jerry Rovner CAPT (USNR/NJSG-ret) Freedom is not Free”


Is this for real? And, if so, does it sound like America to you?? I’m almost afraid to post this blog! Aside from feeling shocked, disappointed, and upset by November’s election results, I am growing increasingly frightened as events continue to unfold since Election Day. Every new incident points to an incoming oligarchy, with its attendant and swift denial of Constitutional protections and human rights for ordinary citizens like you and me. I legitimately fear four years (and possibly many more) marred by escalating strife, ever-increasing moral and physical decay, mounting desperation, and—unimaginably—all of this culminating in armed conflict on our own soil. Think this notion is crazy? Have you any idea how many guns there are in our country—legal or otherwise? Given that every boundary of decorum, truth, and common sense was breached during this unprecedented election, is it irrational of me to perceive my nation—and our future—as being in imminent peril?

Before Mr. T. won the electoral vote, I didn’t realize just how much I took my country for granted. I never even thought about it. Like a dependable-if-sometimes-arranged marriage of 36 years’ duration (that’s how long I’ve been voting), I loved my homeland and made certain assumptions about it—one of them being I don’t have to hawk-watch everything my government does, and I can go about my business and live my life in relative peace. I presupposed a certain amount of cheating (i.e., thievery), in exchange for which I expected this country’s elected officials to maintain an outward semblance of decency while they did their jobs—the most important of those being keeping the “system” on track and preventing derailment when Corporate America oversteps.

But now, I can’t focus on anything but the news—on what our president-elect will do next. Fearing each subsequent outrage, I check my phone and iPad several times daily. Every time, I have a visceral reaction to the latest cabinet appointment, outlandish tweet, or reported hate crime. Maybe I should stop following the reports. Clearly, it is upsetting me. I am self-aware enough to ask whether I am having an unjustified knee-jerk reaction to everything DT says and does, but I don’t think so: To react in any other way to this Machiavellian aftermath would be to make excuses in order to safeguard a delusion of blissful ignorance.

Indeed, some friends and colleagues recommend limiting media exposure, for our own sanity. That would undeniably ameliorate my frame of mind in the short run, but to what end? If I have to blind myself to reality in order to preserve my sanity, how does that make me sane? How “sane” is it for otherwise rational people to willfully stick their heads in the sand while a groping conman—the literal embodiment of the emperor with no clothes—rapes our country from behind, and the legitimately insane cheer our debasement in celebration?

If you think I am overreacting, please leave a respectful comment and explain why. Keep in mind, “Let’s wait and see how it goes” is a calming platitude—until we find ourselves careening toward a crash landing with an egomaniacal celebrity apprentice at the helm. If only real life could be more like Madam Secretary, where each Sunday night our untarnished nation records another happy ending—brought to you by competent and compassionate statesmen and -women. I fear this chapter of our real history will not end as rosily.



Sheryl Sorrentino: Real Fiction for Real Women™

Sheryl Sorrentino is a practicing attorney by day who unexpectedly discovered her passion for writing after learning of a long-deceased half-brother in 2007. She is the author of five novels (Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz; An Unexpected Exile; The Floater; Stage Daughter and Stop & Frisk) with a sixth (Smarter Than That) slated for release Spring of 2017. She lives with her husband and teenage daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can learn more about Sheryl Sorrentino by visiting her Facebook page at!/pages/Sheryl-Sorrentino/249323025094995. Follow Sheryl on Twitter at @SherylSorrentin.