The Middle of Everywhere moves beyond the headlines into the homes of refugees from around the world. Working as a cultural broker, teacher, and therapist, Mary Pipher has once again opened our eyes--and our hearts--to those with whom we share the future.
Though Lincoln, Nebraska, seems a strange gathering place for refugees from all corners of the globe, it is the setting for Mary Pipher's The Middle of Everywhere, an ardent, anecdotal, and at times moving study of some new arrivals to the United States. Pipher emphasizes the resiliency of the refugees--from Laos, Bosnia, Northern Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Union--whose homeland tales of death, privation, torture, and multi-pronged persecution vary only in the details. In America the refugees must learn a new language and pick their way among the temptations and wonders of a complex land. Does a Publishers Clearing House notice mean one is a millionaire? What is aluminum foil? Is an overdue library book a jailable offense? Pipher visits classrooms and homes and offers extended portraits of a female family of Kurds and a bewildered clan of Sudanese, as well as snapshots of many other refugees. She is a harsh critic of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and an advocate of "cultural brokers"--the social adjustment equivalent of practical nurses. --H. O'Billovich