I'm not sure what was going on in this book - I've read a lot of Bach's writing, but this one was extremely difficult to follow. Not only was it prett...moreI'm not sure what was going on in this book - I've read a lot of Bach's writing, but this one was extremely difficult to follow. Not only was it pretty trippy in its layout (as the reader, I wasn't ever sure if I was in a dream, a flashback, a hallucination, or an otherworldly experience..), but the dialogue was impossible, fragmented, and overall poorly executed.
If this story was to bring one hope, solace, or calm about what may be to come after this life, I'm not sure that he really achieved his aim. I've enjoyed his other books, and I feel really terrible that he had to go through what he did, and I'm glad that he found meaning in his experiences...but I just didn't get what I was expecting out of this story.(less)
“You sit in silence, don’t you? No hymns, no prayers, no preacher to make you think. Why’s that?” “We are listening.” “For what...morePassages that struck me:
“You sit in silence, don’t you? No hymns, no prayers, no preacher to make you think. Why’s that?” “We are listening.” “For what?” “For God.” “Can’t you hear God in a sermon or a hymn?” Honor was reminded of standing outside St. Mary’s church in Bridgport, just across the street from the Meeting House. The congregation had been singing, and she had been briefly envious of the sound. “It is less distracting in the silence,” she said. “Sustained silence allows one truly to listen to what is deep inside. We call it waiting in expectation.”
“When the mind is clear, one turns inward and sinks into a deep stillness. There is peace there, and a strong sense of being held by what we call the Inner Spirit, or the Inner Light.” She paused. “I have not yet felt that in America.”
“Honor Bright, you are one delicate flower. You think just ‘cause Quakers say everyone is equal in God’s eyes, that means they’ll be equal in each other’s?”
As a child she had been taught that everyone has a measure of the Light in them, and though the amount can vary, all must try to live up to their measure.
It always took some time for a Meeting to grow still and quiet, like a room where dust has been stirred up and must settle. People shifted in their seats to find comfortable positions, rustled and coughed, their physical restlessness reflecting their minds, still active with daily concerns. One by one, though, they set aside thoughts about business, or crops, or meals, or grievances, to focus on the Inner Light they knew to be the manifestation of God within. Though a Meeting started out quiet, the quality of the silence gradually changed so that there came a moment when the air itself seemed to gather and thicken. Though there was no outer sign of it, it became clear that collectively the Meeting was beginning to concentration on something much deeper and more powerful. It was then that Honor sank down inside herself. When she found the place she sought, she could remain there for a long time, and see it too in the open faces of surrounding Friends.
Taking a deep breath, she sought inside herself to find steadiness. Everyone has a piece of God in them, she reminded herself, even a man hiding in the yard.
More than these clues, though, Honor began to be able to sense when a presence hovered on the outskirts of the farm. It was as if she carried an inner barometer that measured the change in the surrounding are, as one senses the air swelling before a thunderstorm. The shift was so clear that she marveled none of the others seemed to notices. To her, people’s beings gave off a kind of cold heat. Perhaps that was what Friends meant by an Inner Light.
..now for the first time in America she really was completely alone, forced to confront the vast indifference of the natural world around her and the stars and moon overhead. This feeling grew so strong that at last it overwhelmed her, the hard cruelty of the world pressing into her like cold metal she could taste in her mouth. Honor had to stop in the road, gulping again and again as if she were drowning. She tried to escape it by turning inward as she did at Meeting to find the warming Inner Light, but she could not shed her overriding desire: that Donovan would come to save her from that metallic taste.
“How does thee do this every night? And all alone?” Honor shivered, thinking of the cold metallic pressure of the night. “You get used to it. Better to be alone. This” –the woman waved her hand at the woods around them—“this is safety. Nature ain’t out to enslave me. Might kill me, with the cold or illness or bears, but that ain’t likely. No, it’s that” –she pointed toward the road—“that’s’ the danger. People’s the danger.”
Before Comfort’s arrival, she had always been suspicious of them: the rocking seemed to her an aggressive sign of leisureliness. The constant rhythm set by someone else bothered her when she was sitting near an occupied rocker. Americans demonstrated their own rhythm in a much more public way than the English, and it did not seem to occur to them that others might not care for it. Indeed, Americans often went their own way with little consideration for how others felt: proud of their individuality, they liked to flaunt it. When Honor visited other Faithwell families, she had always chosen a straight-backed chair, saying it was better for the sewing she brought with her. Really, though, she did not want to rock in front of others and impose her internal rhythm on them.
Perhaps, Honor thought one day, it is not that Americans are so wedded to individual expression, but that we British are too judgmental.
“I think deep down, most southerners have always known slavery ain’t right, but they built up layers of ideas to justify what they were doin’. Those layers just solidified over the years. Hard to break out of that thinking, to find the guts to say, ‘This is wrong.’ I had to come to Ohio before I could do that. You can, in Ohio—it’s that sort of place. I’m kinda fond of it now.” She patted the felt hat as if she were patting the whole state. “But Donovan…he’s too hard to shift.
Look for the measure of Light in her, she counseled herself, for it is there, as it is in every person. Never forget that.
Honor was not yet asleep when she felt a tiny presence next to the bed. In the glow from downstairs she could just make out the girl’s outline. Without saying anything the girl climbed into bed, careful around the baby, and slid under the quilt to press up against Honor’s back, like a little animal looking for warmth. She coughed a bit and then fell asleep. Honor lay very still, listening to the girl’s snuffling breath and her daughter’s almost imperceptible sigh, marveling that a black girl was snuggling up to her, as Grace had done when they were girls and it was cold. The barrier between them was dissolving in the warm bed; here there was no separate bench. Whatever the uncertainty downstairs, outside, in the world at large, in this bed with the children close by and reliant on her, Honor felt calm, and part of a family. With that clarity she too was able to sleep.
She sat down on one of the straight chairs in the middle of the quiet kitchen and closed her eyes. Since staying with Belle she had not often had the opportunity to sit in silence. It was always harder to do so without the strength and focus of a community. Collective silence contained a purposeful anticipation. Now, alone, her silence felt empty, as if she were not searching hard enough or in the right place. She sat for long time, taken out of the sinking feeling she sought by the interruption of sounds she would not normally notice: the crumbling of embers in the stove; the tapping of wood drying somewhere in the house; the clopping of a horse and turning of wagon wheels in the street in front of the shop. (less)
Let me start by saying this book should NEVER be classified as YA - the ONLY thing YA about it is the age of the protagonists.
Let me also say that, i...moreLet me start by saying this book should NEVER be classified as YA - the ONLY thing YA about it is the age of the protagonists.
Let me also say that, if I ever do end up writing (ahem, finishing) a story or a book or a memoir, if I could be even one-tenth as talented and successful in my word-crafting as Danforth proves she is in this debut novel, I will feel as though I have accomplished something great and worthy and incredible.
This book transcends so much of my ability to describe it's awesomeness that I'm really at a loss for how to review it. I had a late night of not being able to sleep last night, so I basically powered through the last 200 pages in the last few hours of yesterday and the first few hours of today.
I think this book is kind, smart, and important, just like we were taught in "the help". Aside from the queer theme (read: queer being anything other than the very narrow definition of heterosexuality and gender roles that is considered the cultural 'norm' and reinforced through perpetual portrayal in most of the media...I'm liking this new word in my vocab, and the discussions we had around it during 'safe zone' training last week [the timing of which sort of blew the issues of this book into monstrous proportions, because, well...WE HAD JUST TALKED IN DEPTH ABOUT ALL OF THIS F*CKED UP STUFF!]), the crafting of the characters and their situations was so true and intense as to be painful. There were so many "ohmygodyesmetoo" or "otherpeoplethinkthattoo?" or "holyshitsheclimbedinmyheadrobbedmythoughtsandwrotethemdown" moments as to be eerie.
If you are like me (and I recognize that not everyone is...but if you're reading this, you may just be, at least a little..), this book will break your heart. At least 100 times. And you will shake your head, and form shocked, disdainful "o" shapes with your mouth as you read, and you will press your lips into a hard thin line as you read some more, and you will have to consciously unclench your jaw, and you will feel, and feel, and feel.
That's about all I can say about it. You just hafta read it. Be ready to question your assumptions, especially if you've not had a lot of experience with queer culture. Be ready to enjoy some seriously awesome early 90s music references. Be ready to start to question your own motivations, "sins", and "icebergs" (you'll get it when you read it).
Supa quick plot summary for the future me in the unlikely event that I forget why, in 10 years, this book was so powerful: Eastern Montana, regular girl, maybe a little tomboyish, gets caught doing something that makes her super Christian town incredibly uncomfortable, gets sent to be "reformed" (so. many. ways. reformed. re-formed). Personal discover, triumph, and strength.
I read this so fast that there are 3 more weeks left on my library loan, if anyone in the Triangle wants to borrow.
“I felt all the ways in which this world seemed so, so enormous--the height of the trees, the hush and tick of the forest, the shift of the sunlight and shadows--but also so, so removed.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
But if renting all those movies had taught me anything more than how to lose myself in them, it was that you only actually have perfectly profound little moments like that in real life if you recognize them yourself, do all the fancy shot work and editing in your head, usually in the very seconds that whatever is happening is happening. And even if you do manage to do so, just about never does anyone else you’re with at the time experience that exact same kind of moment, and it’s impossible to explain it as it’s happening, and then the moment is over.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
...and there I was sending all the wrong signals to the right people in the wrong ways. Again, again, again.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“I told myself that I didn't need any of that shit, but there it was, repeated to me day after day after day. And when you're surrounded by a bunch of mostly strangers experiencing the same thing, unable to call home, tethered to routine on ranchland miles away from anybody who might have known you before, might have been able to recognize the real you if you told them you couldn't remember who she was, it's not really like being real at all. It's plastic living. It's living in a diorama. It's living the life of one of those prehistoric insects encased in amber: suspended, frozen, dead but not, you don't know for sure.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“Everything was heightened the way it always is when summer is slipping away to fall, and you're younger than eighteen, and all you can do is suck your cherry Icee and let the chlorine sting your nose, all the way up into the pockets behind your eyes, and snap your towel at the pretty girl with the sunburn, and hope to do it all again come June.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post
“On the screen it rained and rained confetti, for minutes, and that glitter-rain, plus the cameras flashing and the lights from the billboards and the awesome mass of the crowds in their shiny hats and toothy smiles, made the world pop and shine and blur in a way that makes you sad to be watching it all on your TV screen, in a way that makes you feel like, instead of bringing the action into your living room, the TV cameras are just reminding you of how much you're missing, confronting you with it, you in your pajamas, on your couch, a couple of pizza crusts resting in some orange grease on a paper plate in front of you, your glass of soda mostly flat and watery, the ice all melted, and the good stuff happening miles and miles away from where you're at.” ― Emily M. Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post(less)
Teenage young love novel, vaguely reminiscent of the courtship between Bella and Edward, but only in the most disturbing parts of the novel. Some good...moreTeenage young love novel, vaguely reminiscent of the courtship between Bella and Edward, but only in the most disturbing parts of the novel. Some good parts, but the character of the rabbi was not well developed, and I've yet to meet a teen who speaks like Will Cohen...who I was just sure was going to turn out to be a vampire (but he's not, don't fear).
**spoiler alert** I intentionally have NOT read any other reviews of this book yet. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and the next day I...more**spoiler alert** I intentionally have NOT read any other reviews of this book yet. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and the next day I purchased the ebook version and read it in 3 days. I've read my fair share of spiritual memoirs, "tales from the beyond", etc.
I'm definitely on the fence about this one. I don't think it helps that I've been watching the whole first season of "New Girl" like it's a job - and therefore Schmidt's "douchebag jar" philosophy was close to the surface of my brain.
In honor of Schmidt and his jar, I highlighted several quotes that just SCREAMED "JAR!" to me. Here goes, my list of the top douchebaggy quotes of one of this year's best sellers:
1) How he met his wife: "She'd been on a couple of dates with my college roommate, Vic. One day, he brought her by to meet me - probably to show her off. As they were leaving, I told Holley to come back anytime, adding that she shouldn't feel obliged to bring Vic." *groan*
2) While in heaven: "Someone was next to me: a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes. She was wearing the same kind of peasant-like clothes that the people in the village down below wore. Golden-brown tresses framed her lovely face. We were riding along together on an intricately pattered suface, alive with indescribable and vivid colors - the wing of a butterfly." *really?!?*
3) On his forgetting of himself while in heaven: "How could I understand all that I did, yet not realize that on earth I was a doctor, husband, and father?" *In that order, buddy? Douchebag.*
4) "It's this thinking that catches the football in the end zone, that comes up with the inspired scientific insight or writes the inspired song." *Oh, so now football is so consequential as to put those who play it in direct connection with the Creator of the Universe?*
5) "Susan is an intuitive - a fact that never got in the way of my feelings about her. She was to my mind, a very special person, even if what she did was, to say the least, outside my straight-and-narrow neurosurgical view. She was also a channel and had written a book called Third Eye Open, which Holley was a big fan of" *! - don't end your sentences with a preposition, as if! *2 - so glad that you could see above Susan's gifts and continue to value her as a person, *3 - Holley really found a great anti-feminist kinda guy, since his wife is so weak-minded as to believe in silly things like intuitives, but her 'big stwong hubby is much more rational...GGRRRR.
6) "Quite simply, I'd never held myself open to the idea that there might be anything genuine to the idea that something of us survives the death of the body. I was the quintessential good-natured, albeit skeptical, doctor." *Oh for fuck's sake*
7) "With a brain affected by a deadly bacterial infection and mind-altering medications, anything could happen. Anything, that is - except the ultra real experience I had in coma." *OH MY GOD, are you kidding me? Did you really just say that?? Are you really that much more special than everyone else??*
Oh, and the names of his experiences were redonkulus. "Girl on the Butterfly wing"? Realm of the Earthworm's Eyeview?" Dude. REEEAALLY?? Do you know how many drugs he would throw at a patient that came at him with that crazy hackneyed crazy assed shit?
However, there were also several good gems to be found - here's a few:
In the worlds above, I slowly discovered, to know and be able to think of something is all one needs in order to move toward it. To think of the Spinning Melody was to make it appear, and to long for the higher worlds was to bring myself there.
You are loved and cherished. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.
If I had to boil this entire message down to one sentence, it would run this way: You are loved. And if I had to boil it down further, to just one word, it would (of course) be, simply: Love.
Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows - the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or that ever will exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.
We can only see what our brain's filter allows through. The brain- in particular its left-side linguistic/logical part, that which generates our sense of rationality and the feeling of being a sharply defined ego or self - is a barrier to our higher knowledge and experience.
It is my belief that we are now facing a crucial time in our existence. We need to recover more of that larger knowledge while living here on earth, while our brains (including its left-side analytical parts) are fully functioning. Science - the science to which I've devoted so much of my life- doesn't contradict what I learned up there.
The (false) suspicion that we can somehow be separated from God is the root of every form of anxiety in the universe, and the cure for it.
How do we get closer to this genuine spiritual self? By manifesting love and compassion. Why? Because love and compassion are far more than the abstractions many of us believe them to be. They are real. They are concrete. And they make up the very fabric of the spiritual realm.
I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition...we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. - Sir John C. Eccles (1903-1997).
But one thing we do know about particles is that each one is connected to every other one in the universe. They are all, at the deepest level, interconnected.
I believe it's a balanced load: therefore, 3 stars it is. (less)
This was SURPRISINGLY good - insightful, thoughtful, liberal, intuitive, subversive, and probably the first book I've ever read that made me think tha...moreThis was SURPRISINGLY good - insightful, thoughtful, liberal, intuitive, subversive, and probably the first book I've ever read that made me think that someone REALLY has thought about life, the world, and Christianity and tried to figure out how they all fit together. Worth a read.(less)
read about half- couldn't get into it, and the LONG mythical story of the Indian woman and her husband avoiding death was lost on me during my commute...moreread about half- couldn't get into it, and the LONG mythical story of the Indian woman and her husband avoiding death was lost on me during my commute - eh.(less)
I actually REALLY enjoyed this book! Was the best "trashy beach read" I've read in a long time..an experience probably enhanced by the fact that I was...moreI actually REALLY enjoyed this book! Was the best "trashy beach read" I've read in a long time..an experience probably enhanced by the fact that I was actually reading it ON THE BEACH! WOOT!! I heart vacation.(less)
Got the last autographed copy from Malaprops, author lives in Asheville :). It's a gorgeous book, and I'm savoring it a few pages at a time at bedtime...moreGot the last autographed copy from Malaprops, author lives in Asheville :). It's a gorgeous book, and I'm savoring it a few pages at a time at bedtime..it's like a prescription :)(less)
The writing in this book is really "just ok", to be quite honest. The characters are often 2 dimensional, predictable, and stale. Yet, at the end it s...moreThe writing in this book is really "just ok", to be quite honest. The characters are often 2 dimensional, predictable, and stale. Yet, at the end it starts touching on some really deep, spiritual stuff, universal truths and whatnot. That made sticking this book out a good choice.
THIS made me mad - and the fact that she never ONCE outright said the lesbians were a couple, and never had them do any more than hold hands once.... From Lovey's journal - "Sometimes I hate what this world has done to the word LOVE. You can love chocolate or pantyhose or somebody's shoes or a new hair color, but if you apply it to a person of the same sex who isn't kin to you, people look at you funny like you're queer or something. I guess I should say GAY, that's what they prefer to be called."
Seriously? This book was published in 2004, and this journaling was supposed to have happened in 2003. REALLY???
Forgiven (grudgingly) due to the amazing imagery of Asheville and even the mention of the Oakley branch of the Buncombe County lib. (Hi ladies! This one's' not overdue..) (less)