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Left an orphan at six years old in 1976, Kandace DeLain Davis grew up in Crossville, Illinois, at her grandparents’ kitschy roadside motor lodge. Seven years earlier, at the Anna State Hospital, Davis’s mother, Mary Ellen Stein, had met her father at what was once known as The Illinois Southern Hospital for the Insane, after suffering from mental illness and addiction most of her adult life. When Mary Ellen was found dead in 1976 with a knife protruding from her chest, her family believed it must be suicide. Fast forward to 2015 when Davis discovered a tiny article from her local small town newspaper,dated not long after her mother’s death,and Davis feared she may not have the full story. This newspaper clipping took her on a four-year journey, navigating through court documents and records of her mother’s over one hundred hospitalizations, searching for the truth of her mother’s death. Was this a case of die by suicide, or was she murdered?
In Out of the Night that Covers Me, Davis narrates her family’s history and details her investigation into the years, months, weeks, and days leading to her mother’s death. Not only does Davis reveal stories of her mother’s life, but she also lovingly shares anecdotes from the life of her grandmother, Faire DeLain Stein. Faire was a woman who made boundless sacrifices to protect the innocent victims of her husband Alvin’s tyrannical behavior and Mary Ellen’s mental illness. Davis includes letters, diary entries, photos, court transcripts, and re-enactments, and these cherished heirlooms tell a heartbreaking but triumphant story. The author interweaves her present day quest for answers with the pivotal events of her family’s early years and her youth in small town America.
This multi-generational family drama examines the decades-long domino effect of unhealthy choices of previous generations and the inherited heartache. However, surprising to readers, they will feel the enduring love of these three generations and realize how much we still have left to learn about mental illness. While Davis searches through her family’s history, we take a front row seat to Midwest life from the Roaring Twenties through the sixties and seventies.
The Stein family story speaks to the global issues of rising suicide rates, struggles to overcome addiction, and the continued poor treatment of mentally ill individuals. As a contrast, on Davis’s path of discovery, themes of friendship, love, and survival shine through as her loved ones and much of her family support her search. But most of all, the author’s investigation of her family’s tragedy in southern Illinois leads readers to a surprise ending where Davis learns that actually…
I Hope I Find the Wind is a lively collection of poetry and prose by poet Terry Focht. In these poems and reflections, Focht captures what matters most to all of us in life, but especially in his own, with themes of love and family, God and nature, historical events and cherished memories, overcoming adversity and hardships and hope and joy singing from the pages. Each poem makes you ponder life by offering a question, an observation or a masterfully woven image you will surely recognize from your own life: “How many footprints on winter’s blanket?/ Where are they going those footprints of children on nature’s quilt?”
He tackles tough subjects in this collection, too, such as his granddaughter’s and wife’s illnesses, children at the Mexico/U.S. border, a mother’s exhausting work and social justice issues. However, he also has fun in this collection—you’ll find yourself smiling at the poem, “Thinkin’ About Stuff,” when he writes, “The Secret of a Long Marriage/ Always say, “Yes, dear,” / and you’ll always be right./ The Worst Thing About Politics/ Politicians.”
Not only has Focht created a unique event in each poem and essay, but also the book as a whole tells a story—the story of his life from a kid in the Rust Belt to a husband in love with his wife to a proud father and grandfather. The poems and reflections tell the story of a life, and readers will see themselves in these pages.
This is not a book to read in one sitting or only one time. Look at the poem, “We Are From.” Each time you read it, you will discover another layer of where we are from. “We are from The Great Migration/ Seekers of Freedom/ Men of Steel/ Women of Faith.”
His prose flows from his pen and onto the page, creating nostalgia, especially in “Bell Buckle Cafe.” Readers will want to hurry to Tennessee and grab a piece of pie before they finish the last word.
I Hope I Find the Wind is a fantastic addition to any poetry lover’s shelf, and it also makes a great gift for a poetry lover or for someone who enjoys remembering life the way it used to be while also caring about the world we live in today. Life is full of complexities and simplicities—and so are the writings in I Hope I Find the Wind. It’s a treasure to read and will bring richness long after the pages of the book are closed.
Author of Out of the Night that Covers Me: A Family Memoir
Author of I Hope I Find the Wind: Poems and Reflections
Kandace DeLain Davis tells the story of her grandmother and her mother in small-town Illinois, starting over 100 years ago and ending with the truth of her mother's violent death.