about the book

The San Francisco Chronicle:

“In principle, it seems wise for 30-year-olds to wait until they have experienced life more fully before publishing a memoir. But if that principle took hold, readers would have been deprived of “Loyal to the Sky,” a memoir by 30-year-old Marisa Handler. That would have been a shame…During her relatively short life, Handler has yearned to create [a world that works for all], and has traveled the globe in her quest. Her wisdom transcends her youthfulness; she writes with grace and insight…Handler vowed to devote herself to world peace, and she has never wavered. Although that sounds like a clichéd thread for a memoir, she makes it work through her relentless questioning — of herself and others — as well as her masterful prose.”
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Book list:

“Born to liberal-minded Jewish parents in apartheid-era South Africa, Handler was raised to question the unfairness of the world. In this brightly detailed blend of personal memoir and political reportage, Handler recounts her life of activism, which starts as a young girl when she stands up to her classmates in Cape Town. After attending college in Berkeley and spending a year in Israel, she realizes her calling in life is a path of compassion. Handler devotes herself to political organizing, traveling to India, Nepal, Peru, Ecuador, and speaking all over the United States. For readers interested in liberal political activism in this new century, including war protests in 2003, the FTAA protests in Miami, and protests during the Republican National Convention in New York, this is a must-read. Most entertaining are the lively descriptions of such groups as the ‘Knitters for Peace’ and the ‘Dot Commies,’ and descriptions of behind-the-scenes encounters. A deeply intelligent, absorbing call to action.”

Publishers Weekly:

“In this memoir-cum-call to arms, Handler examines her literal and metaphorical journey from her South African childhood through her family’s politically motivated move to America to her adult involvement in the global justice movement. From assisting Amazon Basin communities threatened by oil companies, to protesting at the 2004 Republican National Convention, Handler has put her values into action with tenacious creativity. She ably conveys the histories of places many people couldn’t find on a map in a lively, moving and funny voice.”

Lilith magazine:

“For most of us, tikkun olam, repairing the world, is only a small part of our busy, complicated lives. Not so for Marisa Handler. Her memoir, Loyal to the Sky: Notes for an Activist, is a lively and revealing behind-the-scenes look at the global justice movement and Handler’s personal journey toward living a compassionate life… From saying “no” to apartheid in a South African schoolyard to saying “no” to oil companies in the Amazon Basin, to war in Iraq, to free trade and Republican policies, Handler puts a face–many faces–on the global justice movement…Handler’s story confronts us with the challenge and power of personal moral choice and the possibilities for many individuals together to change the world.”

Contact magazine:

“If you’ve ever donned a black armband to protest the war in Vietnam, burned a bra, or taken to the streets for a Civil Rights march, you will enjoy the strong clear voice of this young Jewish activist. Part personal, part political, and part poetry, Marisa Handler, a true citizen of the world, takes us on a journey of self-discovery where we not only applaud her growth and vision, we recognize our own.”

The Indypendent:

“Loyal to the Sky is the fist on the table that quiets the room full of activists quarreling over what message to put on the sign or which route to take in the march. Shhhh. Can you hear the thumping of your heart, the feeling you get when you want to confront the police or sneer at the woman walking down the other side of the street? We can be glad that Handler didn’t wait another couple decades before writing this memoir. With only thirty years under her belt, she speaks directly to those of us knocking our heads against the wall working for social and environmental change, feeling that with every step forward we end up three steps back.”


“This book is one woman’s memoir of her work to date as a writer and activist. With humour and grace, Handler explores the complexity of participating in the global struggle for social justice. She shares her personal and professional evolution as an activist from the first time she confronted injustice with the single word, no – no to the systems and institutions that dehumanize and destroy…Her work taps into the sometimes-mixed feelings of revelation, confusion, guilt and joy that many activists experience on our path to create a better world… And of course, you’ll be inspired to run your own self-reflection gauntlet.”
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blog To:

“Loyal to the Sky is both personal odyssey and adventure story. Its structure actually reminded me of the monomyth that Joseph Campbell described as “the hero’s journey”. This book could be read and enjoyed for its interesting environs, its likeable writer, the political insight it offers or its striking and elegant prose. I enjoyed it for the all of these but primarily for the questions Handler is brave enough to ask. “
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