one high school teacher...
two Rwandan refugees...
and a three year journey of self-discovery
Christine Jenkins is a high school math teacher who has never heard of Kinyarwanda or Kigali. Sonia and Eugene are Rwandan teenagers who have just set foot on American soil. Assuming they need a parent, social worker, and miracle maker, Christine enters their lives with naïve notions of how their relationship will unfold. Her attempts to overcome cultural barriers come in the form of awkward conversations, forced smiles, material gifts – and lasagna. Lots of lasagna.
A series of life-changing events throws Christine’s plans off course, destroying her sense of security and control. As she slowly discovers what matters most, Eugene and Sonia gift her with lessons of faith, love, and resilience. Based on actual events, Fake Smiles and Lasagna is a tale of the transformative power of unlikely friendships – and how to find joy in unexpected places.
"It’s personal, heartbreaking and funny at the same time. I would recommend it for people who liked “Eat, Pray, Love.” The story of Sonia and Eugene will tug at your heart strings, and it is perfectly woven into the story of Christine’s mother’s illness. Her desire to find herself amongst all the chaos of life is something everyone can relate to. You will get to know and love Christine’s family, as well as Sonia and Eugene, along the way."
Amy Bartelloni, Author of The Andromeda Series
"Christine Jenkins' 'Fake Smiles and Lasagna' is a wonderful, engaging, and deeply affecting story of family, an age-old tale told in an new way. Whether it's explaining bowling, body surfing, and sledding, or learning how to negotiate the vagaries of food stamps and English language acquisition, Chris shares her stories with an honesty and humor that make a reader feel as though she's sitting alongside a dear friend--waiting, always, for the next detail or anecdote. Spanning graduations, deaths, and childbirth, the book chronicles the moments in which we become a family and discover ourselves. Readers' smiles will be anything but fake as they laugh, empathize, and care for the gloriously flawed but wonderfully real families of this immensely readable first book."
"Fake Smiles and Lasagna is filled with humorous family anecdotes, often describing personality quirks that we can all relate to. It also contains a great deal of sadness, something not always easy to write or read about, but Ms. Jenkins does so without pretense or melodrama, and the end result is a sincere and heartfelt memoir about self-acceptance, family and friendship."