Drink good coffee and read good books

Because there is no friend as loyal as a good book.

Lost girls

Lost girls: An unsolved American Mistery by Robert Kolker tells the story of the four acknowledged and one suspected victims of the so-called Long Island Serial Killer.

Far from being a book centered on whodunnit, it focuses instead on the lives of the victims, and on the events that led them to face their fate. Finally, we are told the story of women, who were mothers, and sisters, and daughters, and not only, as mostly depicted by the press, escorts advertising on Craiglist.

We learn about the struggles they had to overcome, and that they were trying to overcome when their lives were taken too early; all of them working the only job they could find and that could pay enough to make ends meet and support their families.

We get to know their relatives, with their strengths and flaws, and their constant battle to shed light over the last minutes their mothers and sisters and daughters lived. An undefeatable quest for the truth, and to finally see the killer on trial and eventually convicted. Maybe this would give them some peace; I surely wish them all so.

But Megan, Melissa, Maureen, Amber, and Shannan (the latter not officially recognized by the police as a victim, and whose death has been controversially ruled as an accident), can be considered lucky, as Jessica, not mentioned in the book but whose remains were found near the others.

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Argentina’s angel

I found this book almost by mistake: I was looking for something completely different when I metaphorically stumbled across this one.

After turning the last page, I can say it was a fortunate twist of fate. A short story, written in an essential yet poignant way, tells the life and disappearance of Gisela Tenenbaum, daughter of Austrian immigrants and one of 30.000 victims of the Dirty War in Argentina.

Through excursus on the family history and memories of her friend and relatives, Gisela stops being in name and comes back to life, young and full of hopes and dreams and ideals like she was when she was made disappear, almost 40 years ago, by the military.

No, there is no happy ending; for her family, there will be no closure, either. But for all the readers there is a chance to get to know a strong woman whose name will never be given to a street, a square, a school, but whose life is a powerful reminder of why we need to say “Never again”.

And, like Gisela, thousands more have disappeared, and they are so many that one could forget that there is a story, a family, a friend, a lover, behind each and everyone of them.  But there is also a wall where these names become again people, flesh, and blood, and dreams, and hopes and fears: http://www.desaparecidos.org/arg/victimas/muro2.html .

Let’s not forget them.