November 24th, 2008


I Live Here

A friend gave me the book I Live Here by Mia Kirshner, J.B. MacKinnon, Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons as a (very) early birthday present because she knows how I feel about Mia Kirshner. Mia can do no wrong in my eyes. If I discovered her in the process of murdering an old man for his Social Security check, I would only run my fingers through her hair and make out with her. Mia is my kryptonite.

I didn't know what to expect from the book. I already knew Mia had a soul because, well, those eyes! But after reading I Live Here, I discovered depths to the glamorous actress I hadn't realized were there. Now, on top of an inappropriate celebrity crush, I also have an enormous amount of respect for her.

I Live Here is a work of non-fiction, published with support from Amnesty International USA, about Mia's trips to four of the poorest, most desperate places on Earth to gather information and stories from the people: Chechen refugees living in camps in Ingushetia; Burmese refugees in Thailand, most of whom are forced into the sex industry; frightened women in Ciudad Juarez, on the Mexico-Texas border, where over 400 women have disappeared in the last decade, most of them later found dead, their deaths unsolved; and orphans in Malawi, Africa, where one in five people are HIV positive. It's a harrowing, eye opening work. Sometimes it's hard to believe how much misery and suffering exist in this world. We don't always want to be reminded of it, either. It's difficult to read about these places and the desperate people who populate them. But it's also heartening to see how much hope they hold in their hearts for a better tomorrow. The human spirit doesn't give up easily, even in the worst of conditions.

The design of the book is outstanding, too. It's comprised of four separate booklets, one for each place she visited, that are filled with journal entries, stories, photographs and -- most interestingly -- comics: each booklet has at least one "graphic novella." The four booklets are themselves encased in a single hefty, folding cover that is created to look like a whitewashed brick wall. It's hard to explain, actually. You really have to see it.

Highly recommended, and not just because it's Mia.