Shelf life

Stealing home

Susette Kelo and her ''little pink house,'' which was eventually disassembled and moved to another location in New London. Susette Kelo and her ''little pink house,'' which was eventually disassembled and moved to another location in New London.
February 1, 2009
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Twelve years ago Susette Kelo, an EMT who raised five sons, bought her first house. She loved her little pink cottage and its view of the Thames River in New London, Conn.

That love was tested the following year when the city offered to pay a premium for the house. Kelo declined. The city vowed to take her house and others in the area by eminent domain. Kelo rallied her neighbors and became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit heard by the US Supreme Court.

In the new book "Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage" (Grand Central), Jeff Benedict tells a page-turner of a tale about ordinary people challenging city government and Pfizer, the drug manufacturer seeking to expand into Kelo's neighborhood.

In a highly controversial decision in 2005, the Supreme Court sided with the city. The plainspoken Kelo, continuing her opposition, became a folk hero. Rallies were held across the country. Fan mail arrived from all over. Wearing a jacket the color of her house, Kelo testified before Congress.

In the wake of the ruling, many states - but not Connecticut - have strengthened protections for homeowners in eminent-domain cases. Kelo and the other five plaintiffs in the case moved out of New London, vowing never to return.

Kelo and Benedict will be honored at a reception Thursday night from 5 to 8 at the Union Club, 9 Park St., Boston. The cost is $10 for nonmembers. RSVP by Monday. Details at

Love lines
On Valentine's Day, 40 bookstores throughout New England will make it easy to say "I love you" with a signed children's or young-adult book. More than 125 authors and illustrators will be signing books, demonstrating drawing techniques, and visiting with young readers from 10 a.m. to noon.

Kids Heart Authors Day is the brainchild of Mitali Perkins, a Newton author of young-adult books who will be appearing at Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth. At Village Books in Roslindale, the focus will be on authors who write for teenagers. For details on participating stores, visit

Uncommon Americans
President Obama cites Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, a onetime slave turned abolitionist, as major influences. The relationship between the two contemporaries and what it meant for the nation is explored in Harvard scholar John Stauffer's "Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln" (Twelve).

Stauffer will discuss "Giants" as part of the Massachusetts Historical Society's celebration of the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth. The lecture begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday at society headquarters, 1154 Boylston St. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are requested (617-646-0557).

Coming out
"Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force - The NYPD," by Christopher Dickey (Simon & Schuster)

"Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice, and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves," by G. Xavier Robillard (Harper)

"Pow-Wow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience - Short Fiction From Then to Now," edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank (Da Capo)

Pick of the week
Caitlin Doggart of Where the Sidewalk Ends, in Chatham, recommends "Addition," by Toni Jordan (Morrow): "Grace Lisa Vandenburg's self-described 'counting thing' goes far beyond a charming quirk. Often funny, always lovable, this endearing novel of obsessive compulsive disorder and romance is outstanding."

Jan Gardner can be reached at

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