Friday, February 19, 2010

(21) The Bag Lady Papers by Alexandra Penney


On December 11, 2008 news reports all over the world were saturated with the headlines that Bernie Madoff was guilty of running the largest Ponzi scheme ever known to the people of America. Over 13,000 people had trusted Madoff with their fortunes. In most cases, vast fortunes. On December 11, 2008 over 13,000 people realized that their fortunes, vast or not, were gone.

Author and artist, Alexandra Penney was one of those people. Her whole world stopped and her worst nightmare had come true. She was penniless. That would be like me waking up to find that all of my teeth had fallen out. Teeth falling out is a common nightmare and apparently so is the nightmare of becoming a bag lady. Alexandra Penney is one of many successful women who have this nightmare. To discover that your nightmare has come real is at minimum, paralyzing.

In her new book, The Bag Lady Papers, AP walks us through those dark days after December 11th. She gives us the back story of how she worked hard as a single mother to become a successful magazine editor and artist. But she also talks about the paralyzing fear that gripped her in those dark days. She even googled The Hemlock Society. Her world was shattered. She was not sure she would ever be okay again. From firing her long term housekeeper to canceling her subscription to the NY Times, Alexandra Penney has to reduce her expenses to survival mode.

It doesn't matter how much money you have. When you lose EVERYTHING, your world is shattered and as a reader, you can't help but be empathetic of what she went through. The Bag Lady Papers is well written and engrossing. By the end of the book, you truly feel as if you are a friend of AP's. She just puts it all out there for us to read. That takes courage. No matter who you are.

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I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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