Rademacher releases third collection of stories

Tom Rademacher

Nationally acclaimed West Michigan columnist Tom Rademacher has released a third collection of stories, “The Book of CAKE.” It’s a series he developed around what he describes as “invisible people who shouldn’t be.”

Rademacher originally studied to be a special education teacher and was, in fact, working with special-needs children when he was offered the opportunity to write for The Grand Rapids Press. For 33 years, he endeared himself to Press readers with columns about, in his words, “everyday people both struggling and soaring.”

But the “The Book of CAKE” brought Rademacher back to his first love. Developed, written and published in collaboration with West Michigan’s expansive, Christian mental health agency, Hope Network, this book is an anthology of remarkable profiles taking the people and stories of Hope Network out of the shadows and silence where they so often live.

The book, rich in polished text and stirring photos—most shot by Rademacher when he’d gained his subjects’ trust—is the culmination of a year the writer spent in the offices, group homes, work sites, clinics, buses and families of Hope Network staff, volunteers, board members and, especially, clients.

The idea for the stories was rooted in Rademacher’s history: “Apart from my wife and children,” he says, “these are the people who belong in my heart.”

“Tom Rademacher came to us equipped with the gifts of a writer, the heart of a father and the desire to uncover and tell stories of hope,” Hope Network President and CEO Phil Weaver said. “He sat, he listened, he wrote, and he moved us all.”

Added Dan Devos, chairman of Hope’s boards of directors, “This book is infused with Tom Rademacher’s power. He’s a gifted writer. Even more, he’s an explorer who uncovers what is unique in each of us, a trustworthy friend who opens us to public view without embarrassment. For a year Tom lived with the people of Hope Network. This book is his journal.”

Among other stories, the book reports on a $600 mistake that nearly ruined a man, a message in a bottle, a janitor who can’t see, schoolkids on the rise, and inspirational sagas of men and women who have struggled valiantly against developmental disabilities, brain injuries, abuse, neglect and much more.

“I’m as proud of this collection of stories as I am the other two books I’ve authored,” said Rademacher, referring to “Splitting Wood” and “Knocking At Your Door,” both of which are collections of columns culled from the thousands he wrote during his career with The Grand Rapids Press. “What makes ‘The Book of CAKE’ especially significant to me is that it focuses largely on dynamic people who happen to have special needs, and given the fact that I graduated with a degree in special education, it feels like I’ve finally come full circle.”

Rademacher continued, “Every person in this book is a teacher, demonstrating through their grit and resolve how to live our lives. These are stories of hope, of love, of belonging.”

“The Book of CAKE” is now available in area bookstores for $19.95, with all proceeds to Hope Network. To order a copy by mail, send a check for $25 made out to “Book of CAKE” and send to Hope Network, 3075 Orchard Vista Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. For more information, contact cake@hopenetwork.org.

An author’s book signing is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17 at Schuler Books & Music store on 28th Street SE in Grand Rapids. The public is invited (and, yes, cake will be served). Readers can expect to also find the book at several Rockford shops later this month, to be announced.

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