Read Between the Ravines: Reading with Patrick
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Gorton is excited to co-present with Lake Forest and Lake Bluff libraries a special night in the series Read Between the Ravines. Join us on Facebook Live for an interview between H. David Smith, Distinguished Senior Lecturer of Psychology at Northwestern University, and author Michelle Kuo about Kuo’s book, “Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship.”
In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle’s exacting attention. After two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities and leaves Arkansas to attend law school. Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick’s education—even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a “good” life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.
This event is part of a reading program called Read Between the Ravines. This Two Communities, One Nonfiction Book program brings together Lake Forest and Lake Bluff with the purpose of enhancing nonfiction literacy and inspiring discussion around real-world issues. Please visit https://readbetween.org for more information.
About the Author
Michelle Kuo is an Associate Professor, Program Coordinator for History, Law & Society in the History of Politics department of the American University of Paris and author of author of “Reading with Patrick,” a mix of memoir, history, law, and exploration of racial and economic inequality in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. “Reading with Patrick” was the runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and shortlisted for the Reading Women Nonfiction Prize and the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice, and praised in publications such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Christian Science Monitor, and Times Literary Supplement. “Reading with Patrick” has been selected for community reads programs that include the University of Iowa, the Yale Prison Education Initiative, and Washtenaw Reads.
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