In the classic American story, opportunity is always in front of you. You finish school, find a job, buy a home and start a family; it's a rosy dreamscape.
But that world is one-dimensional. Income inequality is just about as American as baseball and apple pie. And though the economy has improved in the past few years, the unemployment rate for black Americans, now 13.2 percent, is about double that for white Americans.
The debut novel from writer Anthony Marra happens to be set in a world that most of us only have conjectures about. In "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena," Marra transports readers to Chechnya, a war-torn Russian republic that has long sought independence.
The lyrical and heart-breaking novel begins in 2004 when eight-year-old Havaa watches Russian rebels abduct her father, accused of aiding Chechen rebels, in the middle of the night. The little girl is later rescued by her neighbor, who colludes with another doctor to eventually form an unlikely family amid the daily violence.
A massive storm system has dumped more than 10 inches of rain over San Antonio, leaving the Texas city flooded and at a standstill.
Texas Public Radio's Ryan Loyd reports the area is still under a flash flood emergency. Ryan filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"Some people didn't have time to make it to safety in rain drenched San Antonio. A woman died when raging flood waters swept her away in her car. So much rain fell that it floated a city bus. Major highways are completely submerged.
It was cold and rainy today in Boston. Still, thousands of runners laced up their shoes and headed to Kenmore Square.
That's the site of the final mile marker for the Boston Marathon. On April 15, when two bombs exploded near the finish line, thousands of runners could not finish the most illustrious road race in the world.
These may sound like the makings of a Roald Dahl children's book (he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). But at London's Kew Gardens, visitors can now immerse themselves in such fantastic-sounding experiences like rowing down a blue-dyed boating lake to the aforementioned island, which features a 15-foot replica pineapple towering over a banana grotto.