13 Years in America

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The powerful story of one woman’s search for happiness and fulfillment in modern-day America. More
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About Melanie Steele

Melanie is a writer, artist, and free-spirit who lives with her husband and daughter in Minnesota. To contact her, please send an e-mail to: Melsteele.writer@gmail.com. She’d love to hear from you!

Reviews

Review by: Mari Anjeli Lubrica on Dec. 05, 2013 : star star star star star
13 Years in America. I wonder. Would I be able to write something like this, too, like 4 Years (plus) in Malaysia? Or perhaps 2 Years in Australia? Or 25- 6 Years in La Islas Filipinas?

I didn’t expect this book to be so thought-provoking. Reading through the first few chapters simply gave me a glimpse of a life of a girl who fell in love, got married, left the country she grew up in, came face to face with the realities struggling young couples face, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t until I got to the latter chapters that questions about happiness, fulfilment, and conforming to the system that we live in as a whole started nagging me.

What is happiness? Is it found in the end point or in the journey itself? Where do we find our fulfilment? Do we find it in reaching our goals or in loving and making a difference in the lives of others? And are we content in living in the prevalent system in this world? Working our butts off, making some decent money, getting stressed, getting tired, saying hello to our loved ones every now and then, repeating this cycle over and over again? Is this the way life is supposed to be?

I highlighted some of my favourite passages from the book, but it appears as if my e-reader lost all but one. Still, I can share this passage here as a penny for our thoughts:

After a few minutes, we rise and keep going. This time I fall behind, and I start thinking about how the beauty and wonder of this mountain aren’t just at the top; they’re here, right now, around me. Have an open mind on the way up. That’s where the experience is. My whole focus for years and years now has been on a goal, on reaching and achieving. And that goal, no matter how hard I work or how far I go, is always further on. It’s almost like the goal is a mirage, always on the horizon, just out of reach.

Have an open mind on the way up. That’s where the experience is.

13 Years in America ended, of course, with Melanie Steele’s 13th year there. But for me it didn’t really “end”. It’s not that there wasn’t any closure — there was — but it wasn’t the closure I was expecting.

But I guess that’s just the way life is. It’s continuous, it goes on and on, and — a lot of times — the chapters don’t end in the way that we want them to.

So let’s just make the most of the ride. Let’s enjoy life and drink in the beauty, savour every word and phrase before the pages of our books are through. :)

http://mariscribbles.com/2013/03/27/thoughts-on-13-years-in-america/
(review of free book)

Review by: Mary Borsh on Aug. 16, 2013 : star star star star star
13 Years in America is a good story of modern-day struggles. The author really makes you feel her plight and helps you question your beliefs about modern society. I thought the characters were well-described. I felt like I knew them and was going along with them on their journey. I was sorry to see it end.
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Review by: Jessa Lund on June 16, 2013 : star star star star star
Beautiful story well-written. I read this in pretty much one sitting because I couldn't put it down. The honesty and bravery inspire me to question and change. Thank you.
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Review by: Blaine Zaid on April 01, 2013 : star star star star
This book was a relaxing break from the action-fantasy novels I had been reading recently. It tells of a young women's efforts to remain true to her ideals while dealing with marriage, work, college, and parenthood. It is well written, and the main character is believable. Her husband's character is a bit underdeveloped, but she does explain that he's a type of guy who generally goes with the flow, rather than steering the course. The author does present the positive and the negative ramifications of her idealism, and I think it would be a good one for high school students.
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Review by: Khalid Alzayani on Jan. 17, 2013 : star star star star
Nice book. I enjoyed reading it.
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Review by: Micah Simon on Dec. 30, 2012 : star star star star star
Steele you're awesome! 13 Years in America, I connected. I shared in her emotions, hopes, fears and success. Thanks for making it free.
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Review by: Sara Debussey on Nov. 26, 2012 : star star star star star
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is wonderful on many levels.

First, the writing is superb. Easy to read, interesting, smooth.

Then, there’s the subject matter. It’s a brave story told by a regular person baring her soul. Her endeavors and struggles are laid out for us to enjoy.

Finally, there’s a deeper level of importance to this book, which gives food for thought on many issues we don’t take the time to examine enough: education, the treatment of elders, our emphasis on work over family.

Overall, 13 Years in America is a great, worthwhile book to read.
(review of free book)

Review by: Nick Fiocchi on Nov. 13, 2012 : star star star star star
I don’t usually write reviews but felt compelled to do so for this one. 13 Years is a true inspiration. If you have a hard time dealing with reality and following someone making an honest attempt at finding happiness, then you won’t like it. But if you are ready for some honesty and truth, then you’ll love and appreciate this book. Life isn’t sugar-coated here. Things don’t turn out the way you might want, but that’s life.

It’s easy to criticize someone else’s choices, but when you get to know the characters and understand their purpose, then their choices make sense and infact they’re the only choices that are possible without them selling out. Throughout the book, Melanie chooses the hard path because it’s real. She chooses poverty over conformity and authenticity over consumerism. I applaud her drive and perseverance, and I thank her for writing this book and sharing her inspiring story with others. I’ll be awaiting more from this author.
(review of free book)

Review by: R Ralan on Nov. 05, 2012 : (no rating)
I won't spoil Steele's perfect five-star rating, but it seems no other reviewer has mentioned that this is a story of failure from start to finish. The only genuine success is their child. Even Melanie's degrees, obtained at great cost, lead to nothing worthwhile. And the cause? Always choosing immediate gratification, never being willing to delay it.

Melanie talks her husband out of following the career he's spent years training for, simply because it would require two years in an undesirable location. She talks him out of it a second time even though their financial situation is poor. They borrow money at ruinous interest, then pay ten percent to cash the check rather than open a bank account. They rent land to grow a garden in hopes of saving more than $100 per month on food bills! They heat one home with a woodstove yet have to buy the wood. These decisions make no economic sense.

Along the line the author reveals a fear of the U S felt by west coast Canadians, seeming to find our nation a sort of East Germany without the language barrier. She gives two horrifying examples of U S history, neither of them quite accurate. The most egregious is the story of offering smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians, an incident that occurred in 1763 during Pontiac's Rebellion. To wit, the BRITISH defending Fort Pitt gave two supposedly-infected blankets to the besieging Indians. The ploy failed, no doubt because Indians had been exposed to smallpox many years previously, before the Pilgrims arrived, in fact.

Still, it's a compelling, well-written story. But memoir is easy--I'd like to see what she can do with fiction.
(review of free book)

Review by: Florence Renauld on Sep. 06, 2012 : star star star star star
I really, really love this book.
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Review by: Pat Van on Sep. 03, 2012 : star star star star star
Nicely done. Deep, moving story. Interesting characters. A message I can identify with. If you're looking for something honest, moving, and interesting, this is it.
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Review by: Kathy Minowski on Aug. 07, 2012 : star star star star star
Great book that is entertaining, fun, deep & inspiring. I recommend it. I'll be watching for more from this author.
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Review by: Kay MacDonnell on Aug. 01, 2012 : star star star star star
I enjoyed reading this book. It's an excellent read that is interesting and thought provoking and over too soon!
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Review by: Paul Smithson on July 18, 2012 : star star star star star
A very enjoyable read. When I started it I didn't really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised as to what an absorbing read it became. I was a little sad when it got to the end as I wanted more, which is a testament to how good the book is. So come on Melanie, can we have a sequel please :-)
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Review by: Patrick Lessard on July 15, 2012 : star star star star star
Awesome! If you're reading this, read the book! You won't be disappointed.
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Review by: Fiona LaFavor on July 15, 2012 : star star star star star
I found out about 13 Years on a blog and traced it here. I downloaded the free kindle version here and then I bought a print copy because I want a physical copy to have and keep. It’s a real treat to go along on the journey through this beautiful person's life. I laughed, cried, wondered and searched along with her, and when it was over I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend. A book so personal and so universal at the same time does not come along very often. I related to everything she went through even though my life has been completely different. I hope she writes more because I'm a loyal follower.
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Review by: Vince on July 07, 2012 : star star star star star
This is an inspiring book.
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Review by: Lovelyheart on June 20, 2012 : star star star star star
Highest rating. I'd give it more than 5 if I could.
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Review by: Becca Prinsen on June 05, 2012 : star star star star star
Great book. I read very quickly. Well-written and captivating. Love the writing style and the message. Sticks with you.
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Review by: Anne Pekel on May 22, 2012 : star star star star star
I love poignant, meaningful stories, and this one, folks, is it! Ms. Steele tells a complex, personal story with active prose and master storytelling. Every word matters, and every year builds toward a stunning climax where I found myself not only on the edge of my seat, but also deeply invested on a personal level. Ms. Steele, thank you for this book. Looking forward to the next one!
(review of free book)

Review by: Nicki on May 20, 2012 : star star star star star
My reasons for giving this book 5 stars are many: the writing style (excellent), the story (awesome), the message (important), and the take-away (I wish it hadn't ended!). The rating says it all, its excellent!
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Review by: Rachel on May 16, 2012 : star star star star star
Beautifully-written, fast read. It chronicles 13 years in the life of one woman. Simple idea, yet the insight and undertones from what is experienced will move you. Its through the simplicity that the complexity emerges. What’s wrong in America? Why is it wrong? How is it impacting people? All this is explored in a fluid and engaging narrative.
(review of free book)

Review by: Julie Mendoza on May 16, 2012 : star star star star star
Nice to see someone writing the truth about how things are. Is the story powerful? Yes. Is the message spot-on. Yup. Do I recommend it? You bet.
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Review by: B. Nealey on May 14, 2012 : star star star star star
This is an excellent book by a fantastic writer. I LOVED it! I'm seriously inspired by this story.
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Review by: Erica Mae on May 13, 2012 : star star star star star
Well-written story. Good read!
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Review by: R.J. Sawyer on May 13, 2012 : star star star star star
I agree with Billi...it's amazing how engaging this book ends up being. At the end you look back and realize how cool, to be brought along on this woman's journey. A lot of years and ground is covered, yet the writer's style is succinct and engaging. Great writer and fabulous story!
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Review by: Lucy on May 13, 2012 : star star star star star
Great book; fast read; engaging story. 5 stars!
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Review by: Ron Bauer on May 12, 2012 : star star star star star
I didn't really know what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised when I read this story. It has all the elements I love: interesting story, believable, interesting characters, and a good take-away. Want to laugh, cry and everything in between? Then read this powerful book.
(review of free book)

Review by: Michael Millier on May 12, 2012 : star star star star star
I love stories with rebellious characters and this one fits the bill, with Mel running from conformity for 13 years. Keep running, Mel! You're an inspiration we could all take a lead from.
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Review by: Phil on May 11, 2012 : star star star star star
well worth the read. not a dry memoir... reads more like fiction, but it's cool that it's true
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Review by: Beth's Reads on May 11, 2012 : star star star star star
This is a great read! I feel like it was so important so touching. We're entering a new era and this book has a lot of important things to say.
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Review by: Billi Jakob on May 11, 2012 : star star star star star
At first i thought it was starting a bit slow, but then I realized that it begins in 1998 and brings readers into what it was like then. Then, wow! it's the past 13 years that we all lived through, all put in perspective with deep insight.
(review of free book)

Review by: Linda on May 02, 2012 : star star star star star
I was happy to find such a good book for free. It's a full-length story that you'd normally expect to pay for. Most importantly, it's awesome! Like the description says, it's gripping, and more. Read it!
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Review by: Mikaila on April 10, 2012 : star star star star star
A powerful story that drew me in and brought me along on an incredible journey of disappointment and hope. Personal and universal at the same time; frightening yet beautiful. I couldn’t put it down.
(review of free book)

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