Monday, September 24, 2012

Book # 49 - The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

A little girl encounters a naked man in the meadow.  Creepy to begin with, but over time, Henry De Tamble, the time traveler,  endears himself to Clare Abshire.  Henry meets Clare in different time periods of his life, while she ages chronologically.  Eventually, they meet at the appointed time build a life together as husband and wife.  His time travel often disrupts their relationship, but Clare persists.  A story of love.  Confusing at times and somewhat vague in the end.

Book # 48 - Tender at the Bone

Tender at the Bone
Growing up at the Table
Ruth Reichl

Although I don't like to cook anything fancy or anything that has more than five ingredients, I loved this book! Part memoir, part cookbook, it is funny and touching. I could smell and taste the buttery warmth in every chapter.

Book # 47 - A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying
Ernest Gaines

A young black man, Jefferson, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Convicted for the murder of a man in a robbery gone awry, he listened to the defense attorney call him "so simple that he was a hog, not a man."  His godmother, who was at the sentencing, appealed to the Grant Wiggins, local schoolteacher, to grant him one wish - to make Jefferson a man before he went to the gallows.

Set in the Civil Rights era in Bayonne, Louisiana.

Book # 46 - Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare

When my son was having difficulty with the burden of homework, my husband and I reassured him that Mommy and Daddy were there for him.

"How could I help?"

I was totally unprepared for the answer, "Could you start reading Julius Caesar?"

So, one hot summer day, when I was supposed to be training for the 3-Day Walk for the Cure, I sought the refuge of the air-conditioned library to find tools to tackle this task.

With the help of Cliff's Notes, Shakespeare for Dummies and some simplified children's books, I read Julius Caesar!  Another great tool was No Fear Shakespeare, an online comparison of Shakespeare's English and modern English.  I was very happy to be able to help my son with his essay.   Finally, it wasn't Greek to me.

Happy to say, I caught the Shakespeare bug, and went on to borrow books on tape.  So much easier listening to the play than reading the verse.

Book # 45 - The Sisters Antipodes

The Sisters Antipodes

Jane Alison

277 pages

Dysfunctional family x 2.

Two families meet in  Australia.  The fathers are diplomats.  The mothers are both young and beautiful. The children, two sets of sisters, are practically alike.  Within a year, the parents swap partners, and each family gets reconfigured.

Major consequences for the girls who never felt loved by their fathers.

Painful and poignant memoir. Written with honesty. Soul searching without psychobabble. Every little girl needs her daddy, and when this basic need is not fulfilled, the ramifications into adulthood may prove tragic.

Book # 44 - The Diary of Ma Yan

Diary of Ma Yan
The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl
167 pages

I borrowed this book in the hopes that my daughter would read at least one book during the summer vacation.  A Chinese girl in a poor village anguishes at her parents' decision to stop her schooling.  This is something my daughter could not relate to, so I ended up reading the book because it resonated with some  difficulty in my own childhood.

This is a story of how a little girl values education.  Her diary, though simple and rudimentary, becomes a tool to help her family and her village.

Book # 43 - How to be an American Housewife

How to be an American Housewife
Margaret Dilloway
276 pages

A Japanese mother and an American daughter come together to resolve the past.  Shoko seeks the help of her daughter to help her reconcile with her brother Taro who was still in Japan.  She was too ill to travel to Japan, so she asks her daughter Sue to intercede for her.  Sue brings her own daughter Helena, and together, they begin their journey into Shoko's past.

Masterful weaving in and out of the present.  Graceful transition to memories and back to the present.