Every Day Is a Gift
by Duckworth, Tammy

The Iraq War veteran traces her impoverished childhood, her decision to join the Army, the months spent recovering from the RPG attack that shot down her helicopter and nearly took her life, and her subsequent mission of serving in elected office.

Senator Tammy Duckworth is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has served as the junior United States Senator for Illinois since 2017. A proud Iraq War veteran and helicopter pilot, she represented Illinois's 8th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2017. Before election to office, she served as Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (2009-11) and Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (2006-09).

*Starred Review* In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth has a reputation for being both fierce and compassionate with good reason. While serving in the Iraq War as an Army National Guard Reservist, Duckworth lost both legs and severely shattered her right arm when the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was shot down. Her more empathetic ideals were forged early on when she suffered ostracism as the mixed-race child of a Thai Chinese mother and white American father, and then again during her teen years when her father's chronic unemployment led Duckworth to literally scrounge for loose change in order to put food on the family table. In this knockout autobiography, Duckworth tells her awe-inspiring life story, moving from her peripatetic childhood in Bangkok, Vietnam, Jakarta, and Singapore to her high school and college years in Hawaii, attending graduate school in Washington, DC and Illinois, and serving as a chopper pilot defying gender norms in Iraq. Her intense dedication to public service, fairness, and justice, and her relentless pursuit of personal excellence catapulted her to the House of Representatives, then to the Senate, where she became the first serving senator to give birth. With a breezy candor that is, by turns, intimate and assertive, Duckworth offers an affecting account of a life of sacrifice, patriotism, valor, integrity, and grace. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Heartfelt memoir from the senator and Iraq War veteran. Duckworth was born in Thailand in 1968, the biracial daughter of an enlisted American-born father and Thai-Chinese mother. As a child, she struggled with feeling "self-conscious about being different." Her family also relocated frequently, which contributed to feelings of uncertainty about her future. In 1984, they moved to Hawaii. Due to her family's financial situation, Duckworth held down numerous jobs while finishing high school. Although her life was stressful, she never gave up and was accepted to the University of Hawaii, where she got a bachelor's degree in political science. "With all the moving around we'd done," she writes, "and seeing up close the work my dad did with United Nations programs, I had developed a fascination with international affairs." After earning her master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University, she joined the Army ROTC and "fell for the Army like no one ever fell for the Army before." Though she began a doctorate program, she interrupted her studies to serve (she later completed her Ph.D.). Defying the odds, she became one of the few female pilots to fly a Black Hawk helicopter. In 2004, while on a mission in Iraq, her "world exploded" when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her helicopter and "detonated in a violent fireball right in my lap." She lost both legs and severely injured her right arm. During her long recovery, she met Sen. Dick Durbin and shared her thoughts about the desperate changes needed for women in the military, veterans, and their families. Durbin encouraged Duckworth to run for Congress. Feeling "a responsibility to be a voice forâ?¦young warriors," she became an advocate for veterans and held numerous public offices before becoming a senator in 2016. Despite the scars of discrimination, poverty, and war, her commitment to the service of others has never wavered, and her moving story demonstrates that "healing is always possible, and that the low moments can lead to the greatest heights." An inspiring example of the power of determination. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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