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5 Books We Loved in 2022

By Allison Kooser

There’s nothing quite like exploring the world through the pages of great novels, memoirs, and stories. Every month, the Opportunity International Book Club expands our minds, perspectives, and understanding as we dive into a new book—and we are so grateful to read alongside friends around the globe.

As author Jhumpa Lahiri famously said, “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” We couldn’t agree more. As we step into a new year, we’re looking back at five of our favorite Book Club selections from 2022. These books made us think, helped us learn, and immersed us into profound stories.

Strong Connections: Stories of Resilience from the Far Reaches of the Mobile Phone Revolution by Rosa Wang

Rosa Wang spent a portion of her career helping Opportunity International clients use digital technology to connect to financial services and other resources. At Opportunity, Rosa was instrumental in expanding mobile banking and digital solutions for families in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In her 2022 book, she recounts the stories of some of the remarkable people she met. Through these powerful narratives, she shows all of us just how transformative a simple cell phone can be.

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate

Katherine Applegate wrote Home of the Brave for a young adult audience, but its lessons are important for all of us. Through the story of a young Sudanese refugee navigating the challenges of a Minnesota winter and a new life in the United States, we learn about the plight of refugees around the world, the power of community, and the importance of hope amidst never-imagined circumstances.

One line we can’t stop thinking about: “Today, tomorrow, sooner or later, you will meet someone who is lost, just as you yourself have been lost, and as you will be lost again someday. And when that happens, it is your duty to say "I've been lost, too. Let me help you find your way home.’

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

We love curling up with a great novel—and Bianca Marais’ story of a Xhosa woman and a 10-year-old girl living in apartheid South Africa was exactly that. Through a heartbreaking and beautiful story filled with both hope and loss, we got a better look at the meaning of justice—and the importance of opportunity for all.

One line we can’t stop thinking about: “Fear is what makes us human and it is in overcoming fear that we show our strength.”

 

 

Those We Throw Away Are Diamonds by Mondiant Dogon

A powerful memoir, we couldn’t wait to dive into Mondiant Dogon’s story of fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo as a child. After spending time as a child soldier, suffering severe hunger and violence, and living in UN tent cities for decades, Dogon is now a voice of hope—for refugees and for all of us.

One line we can’t stop thinking about: “I hoped that none of these new refugees would be forgotten as we were for decades, forever lost in a permanent impermanence.”

 

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

In the spirit of great memoirs, we also read Nadia Owusu’s personal story of a girl growing up across cultures and countries. Born to a Ghanaian father and an Armenian American mother, Owusu followed her dad’s UN career to Italy, Uganda, England, and Tanzania. Her memoir is a deep reflection on the meaning of identity, family, and home.

As Malala Yousafzai described, “In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies—find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid ground across countries and continents. I know the struggle of rebuilding your life in an unfamiliar place. While some of you might be familiar with that and some might not, I hope you’ll take as much inspiration and hope from her story as I did.”

One line we can’t stop thinking about: “History is a story, my grandfather said. I offer a friendly amendment: history is many stories. Those stories are written, spoken, and sung. They are carried in our bodies. They billow all around us like copper-colored dust that sometimes obscures everything. In those stories, we grasp at meaning. We search for ourselves, for our place, for direction. We search for a way forward: a woman warrior, a complication man, an invitation home, a meteor, a lake, a child landing with a splat. Destruction and creation. Changes in light, terrain, and atmosphere. Delicate new freedom. Hope.”

It was a great year of reading—and these are just a few of our favorites. Want to explore even more great Opportunity International Book Club selections? Check out everything we’ve read over the last five years at opportunity.org/bookclub!

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