I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage: Write what you know. It’s not necessarily meant to be taken literally, of course, but basically it means to write about things you’re familiar with, that interest you. A perfect example of this can be found in Parker Bauman’s Tiny Righteous Acts.
So here’s the deal – Ms. Bauman is an immigration attorney. It’s her day job. In my opinion, I think it’s a job that balances out a lot of negativity created by other attorneys. You know what I mean, right? The ambulance chasers, the frivolous lawsuits, the patent trolls. Immigration attorneys actually help people. In a way, they rescue them. Knights in shining armor and all that jazz.
Ms. Bauman uses her experience as an immigration attorney as the foundation for this novel. At least, I hope it’s just the foundation. You’ll understand what I mean in a moment.
The story follows “Lottie” Fornea, an immigration attorney based in New Orleans. Without giving too much away, Lottie helps women who have been the victims of abuse (rape, beatings, etc) in other countries get their citizenship in the U.S. However, what eats at her is the fact that the abusers, who are still in their respective homelands, get away with the abuse while the women continue to suffer and carry the scars for the rest of their lives.
With the help of some dedicated friends, she decides to do something about it. Hence, the tiny, righteous acts.
I don’t want to go too far into the narrative or plot because that would spoil some of the surprises, but I will comment on some other aspect of the novel.
For starters, Ms. Bauman absolutely captures New Orleans on the page. I’ve visited the city many times and have fond memories (well, I can remember some of the visits) of the architecture, the people, and that indescribable vibe that can only be found in NOLA. Reading some of the descriptions of the restaurants and neighborhoods took me back in time, and I could feel the wind, smell the crawfish boils, and taste the alcohol all over again.
Additionally, the characters are stereotypically New Orleans. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. NOLA is a colorful city, the residents even more so. The language, the clothing, the attitudes, are all perfectly encapsulated here.
But even beyond that, Ms. Bauman does a fantastic job of describing the other locales visited by our protagonist. I’m not sure if she actually visited these cities, but they all felt very real to me. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was a travel agent on the side.
The story itself is a fun ride. It’s mostly light-hearted and fun, but it does have darker moments. However, Ms. Bauman does a wonderful job of balancing it all. There’s humor, a touch of romance, danger, and sacrifice.
When I finally put the book down I had to sit and think about the story for a bit. If nothing else, the story made me consider things I hadn’t given much thought to, like the perils of women in less-modern countries, the difficulties in them getting out and finding a better life, and the fact that in many places woman are terribly persecuted. I mean, I know this goes on, but it’s not something I consider on a day to day basis.
Tiny Righteous Acts brings this to the forefront, not in a preachy way, but honestly and without flinching.
Overall, a good, though-provoking read. Check it out.