Acclaimed Harvard Sociologist and South End Resident, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Will Talk About Her Most Recent Book, "Exits: The Endings That Set Us Free," Tuesday, March 8 at 6:30 PM

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot at her home in the South End Three years ago, when Harvard professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot walked the 142 steps from her home to the South End library to talk about her previous work (The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50), she mentioned her next book coming out later that year, titled, Exits: The Endings That Set us Free.  She described it as an exploration of the premise that our society is pre-occupied with beginnings. "We ignore the departures," she said. Looking at many kinds of exits, from the voluntary to the forced, she found that endings can be a process that unlock regenerative powers "that set us free." On Tuesday, March 3, Lawrence-Lightfoot who won a MacArthur Prize for her work in 1984, will read from Exits. The title of her new book, due out in the fall, is called Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers. You can ask her about that, too.

Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Emily Hargroves Fisher professor of Education at Harvard University, and a fellow at the Bunting Institute and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.  The renowned sociologist' books include, among others, Beyond Bias: Perspectives on Classrooms (1979) (with Jean Carew); The Good High School: Portraits of Character and Culture (1983), which received the 1984 Outstanding Book Award from the American Educational Research Association; Balm In Gilead: Journey of A Healer (1988), which won the 1988 Christopher Award, for literary merit and humanitarian achievement; I’ve Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation (1994); and The Third Chapter: Risk, Passion, and Adventure in the Twenty-Five Years After 50 (2009). Upon her retirement from Harvard University, the endowed chair currently held by Lawrence-Lightfoot will officially become the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Endowed Chair, making her the first African-American woman in Harvard’s history to have an endowed professorship named in her honor.

The South End Library is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited. The event is free. We offer refreshments. Books will be available for sale, signing, and borrowing from the library. 






paul mcWhat do you do when your seven-year-old daughter is diagnosed with a potentially fatal blood disease about which you know nothing and which requires making decisions that may determine her living or dying? Paul McLean, a former sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, one-time arts editor at The Boston Herald and a stay-at-home father after his daughter was born, courageously fought to protect his child, preserve his sense of self even when it seemed everything changed by the day and, with his wife, made those difficult decisions. He also took meticulous notes, and wrote about his searing experience. Blood Lines: Fatherhood, Faith and Love in the Time of Stem Cells is the harrowing and honest account of who he once was, a regular guy with a regular family, and who he had to become as a result of the existential paul mclthreat to his child. McLean is the social media coordinator for the Harvard Community Ethics Committee (CEC), a former fellow in the Center for Bioethics program, a current community member of the Ethics Advisory Committee at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Research Subject Advocacy Board of Harvard Catalyst, as well as a social media contributor to The Hastings Center.




UntitledSaundra MacKay, who describes herself as a former “fat” child, will talk about her contemporary romance novel, The Measure of Love. It’s the story of Vanessa, a career woman who finds herself in a body the voluptuous size of which is not particularly valued in modern society, but who is nevertheless juggling the love interests of two very different men: Perhaps the value of size is in the eyes of the beholder after all? Find out what the author, who grew from a plus-sized teen into a large-sized adult, has to say about what she describes as “the mystique and splendor” of the women of size of today, and feel free to weigh in with tales of your own.



ROSS TERRILLross terrill

What Does China Want? you may have asked yourself, watching the latest military and economic developments involving America’s most important trading partner and not-infrequent political adversary. Renowned China specialist Ross Terrill will be at the South End library to talk about what he calls The China Challenge, and touch upon the latest conundrums posed by the once-locked-away empire that is now deeply intertwined in the global culture. Terrill, a South End resident, is the author of innumerable articles and many books, including The Chinese Empire; Biography of Mao; China in Our Time: The Epic Saga of the People’s Republic from the Communist Victory to Tiananmen Square and Beyond; Madame Mao; and The New Chinese Empire –winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2004. A Research Associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Terrill was a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly in the 1970s, when he won the National Magazine Award for Reporting Excellence and the George Polk Memorial Award for Outstanding Magazine Reporting for writings on China. Raised in rural Australia, he also also wrote The Australians. He has visited China almost every year for many years; within China, his biography of Mao, in Chinese translation, has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Terrill has recently been visiting professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and at Monash University in Australia.




Michelle Hoover’s two novels, The Quickening and Bottomlands, are both set in America’s rural heartland in the early 20th century. The Quickening, based on a great-grandmother’s journal, describes an unlikely friendship between two women in a time of harsh economic realities. In addition to being shortlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, it was a Massachusetts Book Award Must Read pick. Her latest, Bottomlands, is the story of a German-American family living in Iowa after the First World War, a time of strong anti-German sentiments. Struggling to survive as farmers, they are trying to piece together why their two teenage daughters vanished in the middle of a night. Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Born in Iowa, she lives in Boston.


TUESDAY, MAY 31, 6:30 PM


dog ladyOr is it the reverse? Monica Collins is The Dog Lady whose column appears in many publications, including The South End News, Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, The Cambridge Chronicle and Salem News. A former staff writer for USA Today, TV Guide, and The Boston Herald, Collins writes on her web site that she changed her journalistic focus from TV critic to lifestyle columnist after she acquired a West Highland white terrier. She has answered pet owners’ most confounding questions involving relationships, dog park etiquette, divorce and custody complications, and whether the dog belongs in your marital or single bed. One reader wanted to know why an earlier advice-seeker should not have mentioned in a job interview that the garment she was wearing that day had been knit from her dog’s hair (yes, you guessed it: too much information). With annual pet spending reaching close to $60 billion a year and American households owning almost 60 million dogs, Collins is barking down from the right tree, no doubt, and you can bark up hers at the library to receive her typically compassionate, intelligent and culturally resonant answers to your canine questions...



JENNA BLUMjenna blum

Jenna Blum, the acclaimed author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller, Those Who Saved Us (2004), and The Stormchasers (2010) will talk about her latest work, a novella called The Lucky One, published in the new anthology, Grand Central. A collection of stories related to the Holocaust by ten bestselling female writers, Blum’s contribution was one she had been reluctant to write as it meant returning to the subject of the Holocaust. She says on her web site that the research and writing of Those Who Saved Us, which explored how non-Jewish Germans dealt with the Holocaust, was a searing experience. But she remembered one story she had heard when she worked for the Steven Spielberg Survivors of the Shoah Foundation, where she interviewed Holocaust survivors. It had struck a cord with her, she said, and became the genesis for The Lucky One. It is set, like each of the stories in the anthology, on the same day in Grand Central Terminal right after the Second World War. Blum’s successful writing career began when she was fourteen, and her first short story won a third prize when it was published in Seventeen Magazine. Another short story, The Legacy of Frank Finklestein, won first prize two years later. Since that time, Blum’s work has been featured in Faultline, The Kenyon Review, The Bellingham Review, Glamour, Mademoiselle, and The Improper Bostonian. Blum has taught creative writing and communications writing at Boston University, was the editor at Boston University’s AGNI literary magazine for four years, and led fiction and novel workshops for Grub Street Writers in Boston since 1997.