Wednesday, May 13, 2015

April Books 25-31

My reading slowed down a bit this month.  I blame the fact that I been working on my house a ton but you can also throw in the fact that after two months of having no Netflix I caved and we have it again.  My reading is definitely take a hit.  Take for example the fact that we are almost mid May and I've only finished one book, granted it was almost 600 pages but the thing was written for 12 year olds so you think I'd have gotten through it faster.  I need to get a move on.

The Program -Suzzane Young
So this is another one of your dystopian romances.  At this time in teen suicides have grown so high that something like 1/3 of all teenagers are killing themselves.  To combat this problem the government/ the school district starts a program where any kid who "catches" depression is sent to a program where they are wiped clean.  They don't remember their friends or really who they are.  Anything the program deems a trigger they take.  Sloane is acutely aware of the risk on both sides.  Her brother killed himself and she feels she is not properly able to mourn because her parents are constantly looking for signs that she needs to be sent to the program.  Her best girlfriend was sent to the program and no longer remembers any of them.  Sloane is trying to hold it together until another friend of hers kills himself and her boyfriend spirals into depression and is sent to the program.  This book was ok, not the worst but certainly not the best YA out there.  This is a series and I will probably not bother reading any of the rest.  One of the shockers for me there is actual sex in this book.  It isn't like graphic detailed sex but it is there, think the last Twilight book.  You sort of get used to YA taking it right to the edge but then pulling back.  I guess I just expect it.  I don't really know why I think that is the case, considering I think it's something like 80-90% of teenagers are no longer virgins when they leave high school, but since these books are often read by a much younger crowd I can of expect them to stay relatively clean.

The Color of Grace: How One Woman's Brokenness Brought Healing and Hope to Child Survivors of War - Bethany Williams
So spoiler alert here Bethany Williams brokenness comes from the fact that she thinks she picked her spouse badly when she married young and then she cheated on him, a fact that she was forced to admit to her whole church.  In that fact I had a really hard time feeling bad for her.  Infidelity is like my number one pet peeve.  It just is.  We live in a time of no fault divorces.  If you don't love someone anymore, if you think you want to love someone else get out of that marriage.  Give your spouse a break.  Don't drag them down into this drama, so I came in a little irritated at her, but after she decides that being married and the 2.4 kids is probably not for her Dr. Williams, a licensed psychologist (doesn't that just make it worse) decides to travel to Africa to spend time with woman and war affected children.  At first she just wants to help but as she spends more time with girls who have been wrapped and kept as slaves and boys who lived as child soldiers, many of them forced to kill their parents or other young children who are disobedient she resolves to start a curriculum to be used to help children dealing with psychological trauma the world over as well as try and fight to stop War Lord violence.  I was never able to fully relate to Dr. Williams, I understand everyone makes mistakes and that I too am a sinner, I just struggle with this issue a lot, but I did appreciate the work she was doing.  One of the things she points out during her travels is that she was witnessing some of the worst human suffering imaginable and something she noticed is that contrary to the US where many people blame God for suffering of question God's existence during times of trouble these people living sort of the lowest of the low lives instead just see God as hope and a place to turn with all their troubles.  I've thought on that all month what it is that makes those of us blessed with such abundance so incredibly undeserving of such.  I resolved to try and be a little more grateful and to try and be a little more helpful.

Unbecoming - Rebecca Scherm
I don't want to go into too much detail on this book, because it is one of those stories that is suppose to throw a wrench in what you think you know, so I'm just going to say this, there is a girl names Grace working in Paris restoring antiques going by the name Julie.  She has a past.  You are going to find it out.  She is never really likable.  The end.

A Fifty-Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France - Miranda Richmond Mouillot
This is the story of a family of the long lasting effects of the Holocaust and World War II.  This is the story of how one girl's childhood even though it is the second generation since is profoundly effected.  This is the story of a young girl trying to figure out why her grandparents haven't spoken in 50 years.  I've been watching this show Land Girls recently which while not entirely historically accurate (apparently there was quite a uproar about the military uniforms accuracy) has gotten me thinking about what life during World War II was like and how things like marriage, dating, morality did such an abrupt shift and men were constantly leaving home to fight and die and woman were left trying to scratch a living together, take care of children, and often leaving the home to work jobs that previously had only been available to men.  Throw in a bunch of GI's from foreign countries and a little fear and it no surprise that the world drastically shifted at this time.  Anyway Miranda really wants to understand her grandparents and why their marriage failed so explosively that they will not speak to each other at all.  She goes to France to live in a house they had owned together when newly married after the war, reads all the history she can find on them and tries to squeeze out any information she can from them.  In the end I don't know if she found the answers she was searching for or not, but war is terrible and what happened to the Jews at that time changed the world forever.  

Guantanamo Diary - Mohamedou Ould Slahi
So I listened to this via digital form while I was painting my bedroom and it drove the rest of the house batty whenever they'd come in because it was constantly saying the word redacted, but here is the deal, this is the only diary written to be published by a prisoner still imprisoned in Guantanamo bay.  If everything in it is true it is pretty horrific and I think actually there has been some confirmation that a lot of this information is true from FBI interrogators and translators who left Guantanamo because they felt that what was being done there was immoral and entirely unhelpful. There are bad people in the world, people need to be locked up, and I understand trying to get intelligence information can be very important to stopping future crimes but what our country is doing right now, well honestly it is shocking.  Definitely not something I think our Founding Fathers would be proud of at all.  

The Memory Place: A Memoir - Mira Bartok
I hated the ending of this book, just did not like it at all.  First off if you've read The Glass Castle, you've pretty much read this story.  Mira Bartok's mother is schizophrenic and her childhood and adult life in relationship to dealing with her mother pretty much suck because of it.  Eventually she feels like for safety she has to cut all ties.  I'm not saying I blame her for that.  In fact in lot of ways I understand.  Dealing with someone who is mentally ill can be exhausting and the laws in our country and the support systems just leave a lot to be desired.  So cutting your homeless mom off, well it can seem heartless to people from the outside but sometimes it is the only option left to people.  That part I got.  What I didn't like was that at the end of their mothers life when she had cancer and they came back to sort of see her to the end of her life and clean out her storage unit, after she passed the daughters pretty much invited everyone to the funeral, excepted all the sympathy started telling everyone that they should help homeless people because it might be someone like their mother, it just went on and on and I just found that part so frustrating.  It seemed selfish to me, you throw your mom away pretty much but then when she is dying and dead you want all the sympathy for having a mother who lived like your mother, I just don't think you get to have it both ways.  Lots of people liked it, thought it was deeply moving.  I just think you'd be better off reading The Glass Castle.  Feel free to consider me heartless.

The Witch of Black Bird Pond - Elizabeth Speare 
This is one of my all time favorite books.  I can't even tell you how many times I've read it or when I first read it...maybe I was 12?  I was walking through the library last month with my kids though and I saw it on a display case.  I picked it up, entirely just expecting to look at it and put it down but then I opened it up and started reading and I had to bring it home again.  16 year old Kit moves to Connecticut from Barbados after her grandfather dies to live with the only family she has left, an aunt and uncle she has never met and two teenage cousins.  She sticks out in the Puritan community with spirit and her satin gowns and soon catches the eye of the wealthiest man in town but she is headstrong and wild and quickly forms friendships with an abused girl and an outcast Quaker woman, friendships that lead to anger from the townspeople.  How is this book not a movie.  It would seriously be the best!


  1. I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond as a young reader, too! Thanks for all these book suggestions!

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