Learning Diversity from the Past – by Jennifer Smith

In the midst of the chaos I call life these days, I find that I frequently desire to lose myself in the pages of a good book. I have recently discovered a nugget of gold. This book has a way of reaching out and connecting to its readers through a series of compelling short stories. The author, Deborah Levine, is a phenomenal communicator of real life lessons through deep personal accounts of challenges that leave you wanting more. I was entertained as well as academically stimulated and felt as if I was experiencing a larger part of the world.


Coming from a Jewish background, Deborah Levine is able to give unique insight into her young childhood growing up during a time when the world was in turmoil. However, the beginning of this book is far from a history lesson. The author gently guides us through scenes of her childhood growing up on the island of Bermuda. Close family ties are very evident and heartwarming. The cultural differences are gently underscored as is her growing into her real life mission of ‘making a difference.’

My favorite features are the little portions Deborah has named “take always.” They are located at the end of each individual section she writes. Not only are they a great wrap up to help cement in your memory what you have just read, they also serve as diversity lessons. Since the book is journey to becoming a diversity pro, these small tidbits seem to be stepping stones to that final destination. A specific one even begins with “A diversity pro should…” while another is a heart spoken provoking paragraph about the way we have let the faith of our ancestors slip away from us.

A word that comes to mind when thinking of Ms. Levine’s book is ‘refreshing’. It is hard to find honesty, sincerity, and faith in literature today. The author doesn’t have to scavenge the deepest parts of her imagination to make the book wholesome and exciting. Instead, she is real with her audience speaking from her own life and hoping to give a little something back along the way. I laughed at the joy she shared about a teenager named Polly who was full of life during a time of treacherous war, in other places I simply wanted to mourn. Still, every part was captivating to me no matter what the setting.

The second section of this book is entitled “My Top 10 Holocaust Conversations.” I was unsure of what to expect upon arriving at this fork in the road, but I was pleased with what I found. She describes her first real life encounter with Holocaust survivors as feeling curiosity about seeing the tattooed numbers placed upon their bodies. The diversity lesson she teaches us is this: we all have our differences; we all come with “tattoos” of some kind. The gift of diversity pro comes with the understanding that there is a time to ask about the tattoo, and a time to keep silent until information is volunteered.

There are extraordinary people presented in Deborah’s book. I hope some of them are able to see themselves through her eyes because she has painted a few friends and family in extraordinary light. While the author is not proud, the last section entitled “My 7 Lucky Attempts at Making a Difference” shows us that she truly is as exquisite as her words depict. A secret we uncover in this portion is that our author was also a dancer. Deborah Levine undertook the task of teaching a dance class to 14 blind students. To me, this sounds like a challenge I would quickly shy away from. The encounters she considers “making a difference” seem more like monumental achievements than slight chances to me. There are many more real life surprises for you to discover.

I consider myself a lover of books; I can read novels and renowned works in a matter of hours. As I read the book, and then skimmed and browsed it again, I searched for some form of “constructive criticism” if you will. Something that would be expected, such as “This book was great, BUT….” I feel many writers want to give you all the warnings that they can before you spend your precious time embarking on a journey into a new book. However, despite my efforts I came up short. I enjoyed this book immensely. The short sections make it easy to read if you only have a few minutes here and there to escape your world. Deborah is candid, and warmth radiates from the pages. I believe you will find joy and comfort in the words she writes; just as I did.

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