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Thoughts from the desk at Kalapuya Books

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May 23, 2019

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Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal

Our small town is surrounded by a larger, always changing world. Sometimes the events of that world impact our community personally as they did in 2009 when the national news shared the story of three American hikers detained at the Iranian border. One these young Americans was our friend, Josh Fattal.

An active member of our community, Josh had worked as the co-director of environmental education at Aprovecho. He left Cottage Grove after receiving a fellowship, working on health and community issues around the world. We missed him, and were glad he was doing what he loved.

Horrified, we watched Josh and his friends imprisoned on charges of espionage, facing a possible death sentence. Over the next two years, our community joined allies across the country and around the world to free our friend. We showed solidarity by participating in their hunger strikes, wrote multitudes of letters, made heartfelt prayers, floated handmade freedom boats down the Coast Fork; their photo stood vigil over the desk at Kalapuya until they were released. And, we celebrated as a community when Josh returned for his first visit after he was free.

Now, Josh lives in Cottage Grove with his young family, working on his doctoral thesis and planning to teach history. He remains a treasured part of our lives, gifting us with his intelligent awareness, so needed in the world, and here at home.

Unfreedom: Iran and the United States with Josh Fattal.

We invite you to meet Josh Fattal, co-author of a Sliver of Light and graduate of UC Berkeley's program in environmental economics and policy on Thursday, June 6 at 4: p.m. He will speak at our adjacent space, The Axe & Fiddle, 657 E. Main Street, Cottage Grove.

A Sliver of Light by Shane Bauer, Joshua Fattal and Sarah Shourd

Reviewed by Cristina Hubbard

This riveting memoir shares the ordeal of three American hikers who were captured on the Iraqi/Iranian border in the summer of 2009 and held captive in Tehran's Evin Prison on charges of espionage.

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Beautifully woven together by the three distinct voices of the authors, Shane, Joshua and Sarah chronicle their journey through fear, using their love and friendship for the courage to survive during two years of imprisonment. Their story is a tribute not only to their reliance on each other, but also to the fierce devotion of their families and friends, fighting an international campaign to win their freedom.

This book is stark and honest in its portrayal of the cruelty of confinement and the impact of the three friends' solidarity. Without losing their commitment to each other or their ideals, despite isolation and fear of death, they showed the world the meaning of endurance. It is a survival tale much needed in these broken times, showing us all how to find strength by holding on to one another.

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