- N. N. Light
Nonprofit Girl by Ann Beltran is a Celebrate Mothers Event pick #womensfiction #mothersday
Title: Nonprofit Girl
Author: Ann Beltran
Genre: Women’s fiction
Liv, white, privileged, and somewhat sheltered, is graduating from Seattle University at the time of the millennium. Aspiring to do good while crossing cultures, she travels to India on a nonprofit internship, where she loses herself in transit, betrays her long-time, live-in boyfriend, and lets herself be drawn into an affair. Against a backdrop of India’s epic, The Ramayana, and its lovers Rama and Sita, Liv’s romance evolves from exotic idealism into a tawdry conclusion. Liv returns home and seeks advice from her best friend Elyse, who is clear, decisive and assertive – all things Liv is not. She awakens to her heritage as her mother, aunt, and grandma share their stories of the unwanted pregnancy meme in their family. Liv bends to life, as self-absorption in her decisions belies her altruism, and her need to buy time by lying erodes her integrity. While finding her feet as a feminist, she falls in love with the Sweet Pea within and becomes a heroine who breaks with cultural assumptions while making traditional choices.
This coming-of-age story begins the Nonprofit Girl trilogy that evolves into a family saga and is populated by strong women of all ages. Against a backdrop of nonprofit work, we share in the choices, consequences, and small victories over fifteen years of a reflective and caring feminist.
Thursday, March 23, 2000
Liv searched the pharmacy shelves for the pregnancy tests. She hadn’t known where to look or what the brands were so had inquired in a low voice. The intensity in her eyes coupled with the grim expression on her face conveyed to the pharmacist behind the counter that this was a young woman who had missed her period and was concerned.
The reply was unnecessarily loud: “Look for e.p.t. over on aisle ten after the tampex.”
A mumbled thanks came from a face surrounded by a volume of long, curly hair reminiscent of the sixties. Shit. Let it not be true. She paid avoiding the cashier’s gaze. Stepping out into the damp chill of a Seattle March day, she was tempted to return to the flat near Seattle U that she shared with her boyfriend and take the test right away. But she needed to go back to the refugee office first to complete her volunteer project.
Walking quickly towards a sandwich shop, the tactile fold of the bag curled into her fingertips moved her worry towards a possible new reality: what if I’ve made the first big mistake of my life? Her porous confidence that she was doing a reasonably good job of beginning her life stretched thinner as people in line simply looked at her. Can they tell? Do they still see me as a normal looking college girl or do I look screwed up? Self-absorbed she grabbed her sandwich bag and forgot to pay until the guy at the counter called after her. Fumbling to get her wallet, she placed the drugstore bag on the counter, noticing you could vaguely see the bold product name through the plastic. Exiting hastily onto the street, she bumped into a child lagging behind his mother. “Watch where you’re going!” was the parental reprimand.
Yes, watch where I’m going. Had she dramatically altered the direction of her life by what happened in India? She intended to hurt no one, and especially not Devin whom she had been with for what seemed like forever. An alter ego, a different Liv, she was the one who succumbed. Mumbai. Rama. The pregnancy test. Let it not be so.
Her gait slowed under the gloomy sky as the mental black hole was claiming her. Then she thought of her teammate from last semester, Amy. Abortion. Right. That’s what Amy did. There’s a way out. Don’t panic.
Entering a brick rehabbed building, Liv took the stairs up three floors to create a slower reentry into the situation she had left: a refugee mother of two who didn’t speak English and needed a job. How tantalizing the future was when Liv interviewed for this internship to assist refugees who were being re-settled here. The faces and tales of Somalis, Sudanese, Ethiopians, and others began to populate her inner territory letting her color herself a multi-cultural global citizen. This spring internship at the International Rescue Committee – unpaid work as her dad would remind her – followed her substantial full quarter winter internship in a Mumbai sustainable agriculture nonprofit. The two experiences combined to provide an impressive set of experiences for her summer post-graduation launch into nonprofit work. Perhaps the IRC would extend her refugee work into the summer, while she searched for her first big job? Her confidence in her skills had been growing. But now this.
As though shouldering a forty-pound backpack Liv climbed to the third floor office, struggling to bring her attention to her task as one might grab for a tether in space. Finding a job for a refugee from Somalia, I can do this. There were phone calls to make. Often the big hotels were willing to employ people with limited English language skills. If luck struck in the form of an interview, she would accompany the woman to the hotel.
How am I going to take this test without Dev knowing? That was a real concern. Maybe she could take it after work in the office bathroom? Or did she need to be with someone, maybe Elyse, with whom she could share anything? Not that Liv had said anything to anyone so far about what happened with Rama in India. But if she could talk to anyone, yes, it was Elyse.
Amazon CA – https://amzn.to/3LGtCiJ
What makes your featured book a must-read?
The Nonprofit Girl Trilogy is truly a celebration of mothers and daughters! Up to the very ending of the last book which ends on Mother’s Day. You will find yourself somewhere in this story, whether as Liv, at 21, and beginning her adult life, 7 years later as she must face the consequences of her choices, or at 35, when life is complicated in so many ways. And all along the way, it’s women and their daughters in new stages of relationship, sharing histories, guiding each other, and trying to make the world a better place.
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It was late in life I took up writing novels. I’d finished my career - so what to do with all those experiences as a lawyer, executive, professor? With all those people I met in business, government, and nonprofits? Well, it seems they’re all in me, and now they’re finding their way out in bits and pieces in my characters.
This was especially true of the Nonprofit Girl Trilogy. From my experiences of adoption of my son, my head was full of voices from his birth mom, his half-sister, my mother, my girlfriend who was adopted, and so on. Each wanted to tell their story. As did I with all my own nonprofit experiences. And I had traveled to India to see my Guru and wanted to blend in the spiritual experiences of that life. It all wanted out!
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