31 July 2007

4. The Newbery Project

The Newbery Project: The Whipping Boy

Please click on the link above to see the review of Newbery Award winner, The Whipping Boy

Flusi Cat

28 July 2007

3. The Girls Who Went Away

The Girls Who Went Away

Ann Fessler interviewed over 100 birth mothers who were forced to give up their babies for adoption during the post-WWII years. The stories were related by the mothers themselves and were heartbreaking. Through these stories, the despair and long-lasting emotional effects of giving up one's child were clearly portrayed. The work is somewhat repetitive, but perhaps it was the author's intent to lead the reader to understand the widespread societal norms of the times. I feel that the author would have completed the work with some indication of how these practices have been replaced with today's solution to unwed pregnancies. She, of course, indicates that post Roe v. Wade, young women have had the option for abortion. I think perhaps the same social stigmas are intact, at least in the Deep South. But certainly, the options are greater. However, the pain may be the same.

The most interesting outcome, for me, while reading this book was to remember my own teen years during the 60s and 70s. My best friend "went away" and there were rumors that she was pregnant. I never believed it because I could not believe that I, as her best friend, would not know. When she came back, we were no longer friends and I could not understand what had changed. Now I think I understand. Because she could not share this intimate secret with me, she must have felt it was difficult to continue our friendship. We continued to know one another through high school graduation and I know that she is now married with three children because I sometimes see her mother-in-law. I hope that she is happy and I am sorry that she had to experience what the women interviewed by Fessler described.


19 July 2007

2. Eat, Pray, Love

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

Elizabeth Gilbert details her year long search for peace, self-love, and balance after a very nasty divorce which left her less than centered and searching for something (God, by whichever name you choose) to bring her back to a joy filled life. She spends 1/3 of her year traveling all over Italy, enjoying the food and friends with great exuberance. Her next four months are spent in an ashram - Indian retreat, where she sheds the lifestyle she enjoyed in Italy for a more temperate existence where meditation allows her to truly find her way back to God. Finally, she seeks balance in Bali and finds that balance includes a new understanding of love, both intimate and sexual love, and love between friends.

I loved this book and found her writing style to be both informative and with an easy flow. I have seen some criticisms of this work and one that stuck with me was that she frequently uses cliches for intense situations or feelings. But the book felt very authentic to me and perhaps that was how she really felt. My only criticism is that the author leaves you hanging regarding events that took place in Bali. I mean, she tied up loose ends and you know how things were at the point of her departure. I guess, like most good books, it left me wanting to know more.

Library Cat

10 July 2007

1. Trans-Sister Radio

This 2000 novel by Chris Bohjalian was quite good - the story of a male college professor who falls into a romantic relationship with a divorced female teacher only months before his scheduled sex change operation. In chapters told in different voices, inclcuding the ex-husband of the teacher and her daughter, you follow the story set in a very small and prejudiced town.

I found it very interesting that the author provided considerable detail about the surgery itself and the emotional life of someone faced with growing up with the wrong body. Because I essentially agree that this is a possibility that is often dismissed by those less open to issues on sexuality, I really found these parts of the book compelling.

Because I don't like to find spoilers in posts - even when warned - I will not be adding anything other than the statement that you should make sure to read the whole book because I have heard there is going to be a sequel from this very successful author.