2 out of 4 stars
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Sara Tula is now a Chicagoan working as an accountant in a charitable organization that serves women, children, and others in need. In Will I Fly Again?, she shares the story of her life to empower women like her who have gone through many struggles. Born poor in rural Poland, she meets a lot of obstacles as she follows her dreams of getting a good education and building a happy family.
Sara narrates her story with wonderful English that belies her foreign origins. She writes with passion and simplicity, allowing the reader to connect with her and journey with her as she transforms from a fragile teener to the strong woman that she is today.
She was raped at 17 while in Poland; she kept the secret to herself. Her Aunt Helen’s offer to bring her to America to continue her schooling came at that point, and she grabbed it as the opportunity to escape her disgrace. Unfortunately, her aunt’s home in Chicago was not the haven she thought it would be. Helen and her husband Joe refused to send her to school and forced her to get menial jobs (as only those were available to non-English speakers). Despite these setbacks, Sara learned English from kind nuns and sent herself to school while working her fingers to the bone. When she started earning well, Helen and Joe charged her for board and lodging and other household expenses until she left them to live with her boyfriend Mark.
Mark was no hero either as he shed his loving facade and proved to be a lazy bum soon after they got married. Sara had to work hard to keep them all afloat. She had to keep two jobs, singlehandedly care for their two sons, and pander to Mark’s and her mother Harriet’s demands.
Her life seemed to be one trial after another, but her faith gave her the strength and peace to carry on.
Sara’s story will give hope to women of all ages, especially those who feel deprived and helpless. Young readers are welcome as there are no graphic scenes or foul words to watch out for. The book will also appeal to Christians because Sara, a devout Catholic, uses prayer as her refuge many times; she is a long-suffering and forgiving daughter, wife, mother, and niece.
The inclusion of several letters to and from her family in Poland is a nice touch as it boosts the authenticity of the story. The use of flashbacks to compare her life in Poland to her prevailing situation in Chicago also feels very natural. We also learn about Polish traditions like the oczepiny (unveiling the bride) and the Boze Cialo celebration (Pentecost rites). (Google told me, however, that Boze Cialo means Christ’s Body which is a Catholic feast celebrated ten days after Pentecost.)
While I found myself rooting for Sara to win all her battles, the story had some low points. There were scenes that were described in so much detail even when such was not warranted. These scenes include the visit to the American consulate for her visa, her food cravings while conceiving her first child, a taxi ride to buy diapers, and the minute details of a friend’s wedding. These superfluous side stories make the reader’s attention waver.
There were some observations about Mark’s behavior that were not explained. He was described as mumbling unfamiliar names and places; he was also shown as having wads of cash. I was kept wondering about the relevance of those statements.
I noted some inconsistencies in the dates and ages. Since the story spanned three decades, there was bound to be some failure of memory. A good editor could have spotted those inconsistencies.
The ending was abrupt; it gave me a “That’s it?” frown. I am actually not sure if I got a complete copy as that was the last page of the PDF file that I downloaded.
Grammar lapses also peppered the pages. The slips mostly related to punctuation (missing commas and hyphens, generally), run-on sentences (particularly in Mark’s dialogue), and a few missing words.
I give Sara’s story 2 out of 4 stars. Clearing the grammatical errors, obscurities, and inconsistencies and weeding out the superfluous details will catapult this story to 4 stars.
The cover features a canary in an open cage. Sara’s father had a favorite story about birds. Sara herself kept birds as pets. One can see that she likens herself to a bird. If you want to answer her question in the title, read her story. As for me, I wish she would not only fly but soar.
Will I Fly Again ?
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