Zacharias, Karen Spears 1956(?)-

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ZACHARIAS, Karen Spears 1956(?)-

PERSONAL: Born c. 1956; daughter of David Paul Spears (a military staff sergeant) and Shelby Spears; married; husband's name Tim (a teacher); children: four. Education: Graduated from Oregon State Univeristy, 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking.

ADDRESSES: Home—Hermiston, OR, and GA. Office—Tri-City Herald, P.O. Box 2608, Tri-Cities, WA 99302. Agent—c/o Sharyn Rosenblum, HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., New York, NY 10022-5299 E-mail[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER: Journalist and commentator. Tri-City Herald, Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland), WA, reporter, 2000–. Lecturer at Vietnam veterans' events; Vietnam Women's Memorial, member of board of directors.

MEMBER: Sons and Daughters in Touch, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, Virtual Wall, Orphans of War Foundation.

AWARDS, HONORS: C.B. Blethen Award for Distinguished Feature Writing, 2002.

WRITINGS:

(With Rufe McCombs) Benched: The Memoirs of Judge Rufe McCombs, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 1997.

Hero Mama: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost in Vietnam—and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Veteran and Vietnam Veterans of America.

WORK IN PROGRESS: An historical novel.

SIDELIGHTS: Karen Spears Zacharias's first book, Benched: The Memoirs of Judge Rufe McCombs, is about her coauthor, a Georgia lawyer, judge, and mother who was appointed a superior court judge in 1982. According to Jeanette Davis Mantilla in the Journal of Women's History, the book contains "insights about the issues and choices faced by ambitious, college-educated women" at a time when there were few female professionals.

Zacharias also wrote her own memoir, Hero Mama: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost in Vietnam—and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together. The book recounts the author's emotional journey from the day in 1966 that her family learned of her father's death in Vietnam (Zacharias was nine years old at the time) through the emotional problems of orphanhood and her mother's withdrawal and inadequacies as a single parent to the family's eventual reconciliation and journey to Vietnam to the very spot where the author's father was killed. Critics praised Zacharias's straightforward, moving approach to her topic. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the book's "main point" is that "a soldier's death brings pain and sorrow to many generations of his family," while Sarah Jent, writing in Library Journal, stated: "Although her story is often grim and tear-inducing, the author celebrates her family and speaks with a genuine and true voice."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Zacharias, Karen Spears, Hero Mama: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost in Vietnam—and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of Hero Mama, p. 703.

Journal of Women's History, winter, 2000, Jeanette Davis Mantilla, review of Benched: The Memoirs of Judge Rufe McCombs, p. 220.

Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Sarah Jent, review of Hero Mama, p. 130.

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of Hero Mama, p. 50.

ONLINE

Hero Mama Web site, http://www.heromama.org/ (April 17, 2005).