Nigerian immigrants’ affair turns to obsession in Ohio

The bumpy adulterous relationship between two Nigerian immigrants in Ohio is the theme of Preying Mantis: The Story of Tarissa by Lyn Thomas of Shaker Heights.

The novel begins with Lennox Obi, whose 15-year affair with Tarissa “Trish” Adoja has come to an end. Having sent her innumerable emails and texts, and driven from his home in Shaker Heights to Columbus, where Trish lives, he has been rewarded with a complaint against him for stalking and harassment. Len decides he has no option but to take his own life.

The story then returns to the beginning, the night when long-married Len, a middle-aged scientist at NASA Glenn, meets Trish, who works as a librarian at Marion Correctional Institution, at a party and is instantly smitten. Believing she is his soul mate, he pursues her and begins by writing and calling; then he takes her to a conference in France. He spends tens of thousands of dollars helping her and her family, without thanks or repayment. Then Trish’s affection cools, bewildering Len.

The narrative is oddly specific in some places, like the intimate details of a health scare Len has on a flight home from Rome, but vague in others: There are many references throughout the book to a “family business” Len and his wife, Magda, operate, but no clue is given to the nature of the business, even when Len offers to finance a branch office for Trish after she is laid off from work.

Of interest is Thomas’ explanation of the complicated cultural lives of Nigerian immigrants in America, such as their elaborate parties and social structure. When Trish has illness and tragedy in her family, legions of relatives arrive from Nigeria and stay permanently, using up all the hot water and bankrupting Trish with food and utility bills.

Preying Mantis (softcover, 329 pages) costs $14.75 from online retailers.

CEO tells of youth, family struggles

On My Own: Recollections of an Unlikely CEO by Cuyahoga Falls native Bruce Hendrick is, in the main, the story of a good-hearted, ordinary boy, maybe a little more mischievous than some.

Hendrick takes the reader through family trips to Baker’s Acres, where his paralyzing fear of water surfaces; going to confession and deciding which sins to confess, like throwing snowballs at nuns (during Lent, yet); setting off fireworks at Boy Scout Camp; a total meltdown when a pretty girl holds his hand.

Hendrick writes about these pranks with skill, but it is in his memories of his mother that the book is at its most powerful. Carol Testa Hendrick was “stormy and strong,” and married Ralph Hendrick when she was 17. By September 1961 they had two sons, but months later she developed neurological symptoms that were diagnosed as encephalitis. She spent several months in a coma and, when she awoke, remembered nothing of the previous two years … including having had two children.

Hendrick’s description of his mother’s subsequent life, suffering convulsions, headaches, sudden fits of rage and living on an “artificial soup” of medication shows the mixed frustration and compassion of a child who wants to “fix” his mother but can’t.

On My Own (156 pages, softcover) costs $12.95 from online retailers. Bruce Hendrick owns a leadership training service in Shreve.

Events

Barberton Public Library (602 W. Park Ave.) — Brad Ricca, author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the Creators of Superman, talks about the history of comics in America and signs his book from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Summit County Public Library (Tallmadge Branch, 90 Community Road) — Tallmadge author Amanda Flower reads from and signs The Final Reveille, first in her Living History Museum series, and Murder, Served Simply, fourth in the Amish Quilt Shop mystery series she writes as Isabella Alan, 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Parma-Snow branch, 2121 Snow Road) — Best-selling author C.J. Box signs his work (the Joe Pickett series has 16 entries), including the new North Dakota-set Badlands, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Advance notice is given for an Aug. 12 appearance by Kate DiCamillo, selected by the Library of Congress as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. At 5 p.m. DiCamillo will unveil a mural representing her theme “Stories Connect Us”; an ice cream social will follow until 6:30 p.m., and at 7 p.m. DiCamillo will discuss her work, including Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. Registration for both is required; call 216-661-4240.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Coinciding with neighboring Twinsburg’s Twins Day, Suzanne Cordatos and her twin sister, Sonja Anderson, will sign their middle-grade adventure books: Cordatos’ Lost Crown of Apollo, about an ancient artifact a boy finds on a trip to Greece, and Anderson’s Sophie’s Quest, about an owl and a mouse who team up to learn secrets in the Holy Land, 1 to 3 p.m. Friday. Paul Moir of Medina signs The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, about a supermodel and her bitter twin sister, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Julie Walker Mitchell signs her inspirational book 365 Days of Hope, 1 p.m. Saturday.

Snowball Books (564 W. Tuscarawas Ave., Barberton) — The Beacon Journal’s “This Place, This Time” local history columnist Mark J. Price will sign copies of his new book Lost Akron from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.