The young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag yo...moreThe young can exasperate, of course, and frighten, and condescend, and insult, and cut you with their still unrounded edges. But they can also drag you, as you protest and scold and try to pull away, right up to the window of the future, and even push you through.
There was no sense in assuring her that she would have a good day, or, for that matter, a hard one; Cora didn't know what lay in store, for this day or any other. She could only promise to be there at three, to console, to celebrate, or to strategize, to help this child as best she could, to hold her hand and lead her home.
Was it mad to at least try to live as one wished, or as close to it as possible? This life is mine, she would think sometimes. This life is mine because of good luck. And because I reached out and took it.
Got as far as the chapter "Alice and Billups." My loan ran out before I could finish it. It's probably better that way, because at the rate I'm going...moreGot as far as the chapter "Alice and Billups." My loan ran out before I could finish it. It's probably better that way, because at the rate I'm going with finding time for recreational reading, I need to get started on the next book for April 4th.(less)
Eh. Kind of lame. A fluff read. No depth. Though, given the subject matter, you'd think there would be.
On a positive note I found one quote from the b...moreEh. Kind of lame. A fluff read. No depth. Though, given the subject matter, you'd think there would be.
On a positive note I found one quote from the book that rang true with me: "I had a huge thick biography of Harry Truman that I'd begun before the accident. But I coudnn't seem to make much headway in it. 'Reading is the first to go," my mother used to say, meaning that it was a luxury the brain dispensed with under duress." page 52 I, from experience, can testify this is absolutely true.
Oh, and one more: "I used to toy with the notion that when we die we find out what our lives have amounted to, finally. I'd never imagined that we could find that out when somebody else dies." page 155(less)
At first I was a bit intimidated by the epistolary writing style. And, if you are the same, please don't let it put you off or prevent you from readin...moreAt first I was a bit intimidated by the epistolary writing style. And, if you are the same, please don't let it put you off or prevent you from reading this book. Give it time and you will see that this writing style is what drives you to fall in love with the unforgettable characters in this book. Also, it will make you appreciate the art of letter writing, and fret for its demise in modern society. This was an uplifting read in spite of the theme of war. Prepare yourself to fall in love with the island of Guernsey and it's diverse and quirky inhabitants.
Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. p 10
Will Thisbee was responsible for the inclusion of Potato Peel Pie in our society's name. Germans or no, he wasn't going to go to any meetings unless there were eats! So refreshments became part of our program. Since there was scant butter, less flour, and no sugar to spare on Guernsey then, Will concocted a potato peel pie: mashed potatoes for filling, strained beets for sweetness, and potato peelings for crust. Will's recipes are usually dubious, but this one became a favorite. p 51
Men are more interesting in books than they are in real life. p 52
I, too, have felt that the war goes on and on. When my son, Ian, died at El Alamein - side by side with Eli's father, John - visitors offering their condolences, thinking to comfort me, said "Life goes on." What nonsense, I thought, of course it doesn't. It's death that goes on; Ian is dead now and will be dead tomorrow and next year and forever. There's no end to that. But perhaps there will be an end to the sorrow of it. p 104 (less)
"I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change."...more "I'm not Persephone. I'm not going to cheat on Henry no matter what season it is, and I don't care how much time passes. That isn't going to change." "What if things never get better?" said James. "What if Henry never loves you the way you deserve? What happened to Persephone... I don't want to see you repeat her mistakes. You shouldn't have to go through that kind of pain - you or Henry both. He's set in his ways, and he's never going to change. There's no shame in admitting your marriage isn't working - " "Just because we have some problems doesn't mean it isn't working." He sighed. "All I'm saying is that you have a choice, Kate. Understand that, please, and don't go running in the direction of Henry because you think you can fix him." "I'm not," I snarled. "I'm with him because I love him." "Then it shouldn't be too hard for you to make me a promise," said James. He was crazy if he thought I was going to promise him anything though. "Think about the possibility of living your own life instead of the life Henry and the rest of the council want you to live - and I don't mean consider it for half a second. I mean imagine what it'll be like if Henry never loves you like you love him. Imagine how it'll feel coming home to a cold bed and a husband who would rather do anything else than spend time with you. Because like it or not, if you stay, that's a possibility. And in return, I'll stop badgering you."
"What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head,...more "What is this place?" He looked amused. "Have you not figured it out already?" I felt my cheeks color. At least there was some blood left in my head, which meant I had a chance at standing without passing out. "I've been a little busy thinking about other stuff." Getting to his feet, Henry offered me his hand. I didn't take it, but it didn't seem to bother him. "It goes by many names. Elysium, Annwn, Paradise - some even call it the Garden of Eden." He smiled as if he'd told a clever little joke. I didn't get it, and my confusion must have shown, because he continued without me asking. "This is the gate between the living and the dead," he said. "You are still living. The others on the grounds died a very long time ago." A chill ran through me. "And you?" "Me?" The corner of his mouth twitched. "I rule the dead. I am not one of them." page 84
I couldn't have him, but with each evening that passed, I felt myself falling deeper and deeper for him, spiraling downward into a place where the word love was synonymous with pain. Every look, every touch, every brush of his lips, as innocent as they may have been - how could he say he only wanted friendship when he was treating me like his partner? When he wanted me to be his wife? I didn't understand it, and as time passed, I grew more confused. I didn't know what this sort of love felt like, but by the time winter started to come to an end, with the exception of my mother, I felt closer to him than I had to anyone in my life. It hurt to be away from him, but sometimes, when he told me stories of his life before me, his life with Persephone, it was agony to be with him. Still, our friendship was so strong that it felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was no one I'd have rather spent my time with, no matter how much it hurt. pp 217-8
"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that sel...more"He could not take his eyes away from the backs of her knees. As she stretched, her dress of a soft cottony flowered fabric rose up, exposing that seldom notice, ooo-so-vulnerable flesh. And for a reason he still did not understand, he began to cry. Love plain, simple, and so fast it shattered him." p22
"Don't paint me as some enthusiastic hero. I had to go but I dreaded it." p84(less)
Good. Particularly agreed with her stance on power struggles (p 146). Especially enjoyed the following chapters: Chapter 8 - Celebrate the Child You'v...moreGood. Particularly agreed with her stance on power struggles (p 146). Especially enjoyed the following chapters: Chapter 8 - Celebrate the Child You've Got, Chapter 11 - Being Present and Mindful, and Unwinding Without Electricity, and Chapter 12 - Empowering Kids to Create Their Very Best Lives. Solid information and advice. (less)
Before I say anything, I'd like to first and foremost admit that my knowledge in history is severely lacking. I was not a good student in school, and...moreBefore I say anything, I'd like to first and foremost admit that my knowledge in history is severely lacking. I was not a good student in school, and of all the subjects I floated through, history was certainly one of the subjects that took the hardest hit. Plus, they didn't have the History Channel when I was in school, which would have been WAY better than the lackluster instructors that turned me off to the past. That said, the only thing I really know about King Henry the Eighth is that he existed at some point in time and there is a children's song about him (and I do not even know the lyrics to said song).
Given that I have no previous knowledge or opinion of King Henry the Eighth, his first wife Queen Katherine, or any of the Boleyns for that matter, I went along with the story just fine, finding things quite believable (even though, as a work of historical fiction, we all know that they are not truth). I was not shocked, upset, or disappointed with Gregory's treatment of the characters like some readers have expressed, simply because I was a blank slate that knew next to nothing about these historical figures or their lives to begin with. So, while I found the work to be pretty entertaining, I accept that it is a deviation from historical fact.
The book sucked me and kept my attention quite well for most of it's duration (600+ pages) however it did lag a bit about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through. It just hit a couple of points when all I could think was "Is Anne ever going to marry the King already?" and "Is Anne ever going to get pregnant and carry a baby to term again?" Of course, given the nature of the book, the drama carried me through. And although many people have said the depiction of Mary's character was historically inaccurate (as well as the King's and Anne's for that matter), it didn't mean I couldn't relate to her wanting to get the hell out of that court and live a more pure and simple life with the man she loved in the country. I'd churn butter any day over having to deal with the stuff that went down in the court.
So, overall, a pretty entertaining read and a page turner. (less)
An absolutely excellent read. I picked this new book up at my library specifically because a decent chunk of the book dealt with the "Sun Corridor" of...moreAn absolutely excellent read. I picked this new book up at my library specifically because a decent chunk of the book dealt with the "Sun Corridor" of Arizona, which includes Tucson, where we lived for seven years. So I was particularly drawn into chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8. They were, in fact, the main reason I read this book.
Many important and familiar issues were addressed in these chapters, from the O'odham people of today, the issues of state land reform in Arizona, water shortage, climate change, and the phenomenon of the "urban heat island" that describes what is happening in Phoenix, water used for crops being diverted to supply mains of subdivisions, the foreclosure rate and the impact of the recession, the border wall a.k.a. "billion-dollar speed bump", and the impact on the natural environment.
"So this used to be a farming community," says Propst, "and now its last harvest is these homes, but the crop, for the time being, has failed." page 202
"Look at it," he said. "It's an ugly damn thing, it makes a lot of noise, it does a lot of damage, it costs way too much, and it doesn't work - that's how you know it's a federal project!" - Odle on the Border Wall page 228(less)
Good book. Pretty much the same core idea behind it as Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, but probably a better main-stream pick for the harder-...moreGood book. Pretty much the same core idea behind it as Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, but probably a better main-stream pick for the harder-to-convince parents, especially those who came from and swear by a brickwall kind of family. Brickwall? You know: 'Our way or the highway' parents who gave out spankings and groundings freely. It actually describes the three common types of families: Brickwall (just mentioned), Jellyfish (there are two sub-types), and Backbone (the one you should strive for). It was interesting to compare these styles with my own upbringing, and even the bit I know about my parents upbringings. Not my favorite parenting book, but a good one, and I value it in the fact that it might get the message across to folks who may be too rigid or too warped themselves from their own childhoods to open their minds to How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk; Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves; Liberated Parents, Liberated Children; Unconditional Parenting; and books of the like.
- - - - A Few Quotes:
A good check of a parenting tool is "Would I want it done to me?" As simple a question as it appears to be, it can make the difference in how we parent this next generation. I believe that for the first time in our history we have the tools necessary to break the cycles of dysfunction, abuse, and neglect. We now have the individual and collective awareness of the damages that physical and emotional abuse can cause a child, a family, and a society. I am not naive enough to believe that it will be simple to make the necessary changes. There will be strong opposition from those who believe children are property to be owned and controlled. Some will fight to the bitter end to assert their "right" to abuse their children physically, emotionally, and sexually. I also know that those of us committed to making a change must also fight the demons from within, for we carry in our mental toolboxes destructive tools that are well-worn family heirlooms, passed on from generation to generation. page 15
Jellyfish families of both types have little external or internal structures. A permissive, laissez-faire atmosphere prevails. Children are smothered or abandoned, humiliated, embarrassed, and manipulated. They become obnoxious and spoiled and/or scared and vindictive. Since they receive no affirming life messages from their parents, they view themselves and the world around them with a lack of optimism. They end up being afraid of expressing themselves. They keep their feelings under guard and spontaneity in check; or they swing to the other extreme and become reckless, uncaring, uncontrollable risk takers. page 49
Many attempted suicides are not failed attempts but desperate cries for help. Both the brickwall family and the jellyfish family can set the stage for these desperate cries. The brickwall parent has told the child for years to stifle his feelings of hurt, anger, and frustration. ("Don't cry." "Don't walk away from me. You will listen to me." "Do what I tell you to do, and no arguments, please.") Solutions for problems are dictated by the parent to the child, with no opportunity for discussion or dialogue. ("You will bring your test scores up by studying every night for two hours." "You will replace Mr. Smith's planter, and tell him you are sorry." "Share that toy with your brother, right now.") Love is held out as a reward for behavior the parent approves of, and withheld for behaviors the parent doesn't like. ("If you are well behaved, I love you. If you are not, I won't." "Get away from me. You are a bad girl." "Let Mommy give her big girl a big kiss for winning the spelling bee.") Perfection is good. Mistakes are bad. (For example, an honor student gets a B and thinks his whole world should come to an end. A young girl starves herself to become like the model waifs who are the "ideal" weight.) The jellyfish parent has been inconsistent in his own expression of feelings, one moment flying off the handle for a minor infraction, the next laughing at something his child got punished for yesterday. The child's feelings are ignored ("Go to your bedroom right now and stay there until morning. That should teach you to talk to me like that." "Did you hear how he told his teach off? What guts he has." "He's not sad. He has nothing to be sad about.") Problems are not solved. They are ignored or glossed over. ("Don't worry about Mr. Smith. He'll get over his anger. It was only an old planter, and I know you didn't hit it on purpose." "Three D's and four F's. That's not as bad as it looks. You should have seen my report card when I was your age.") Love is also highly conditional. However, in a jellyfish family the conditions for it are inconsistent. One day a hug is given, "just because I wanted to give you a hug." The next day a hug is withheld because the child "upset Dad." Reaching adolescence with a sense of learned helplessness, coupled with hurt and anger, a teen from either family can become depressed and self-destructive when faced with the normal frustrations of the age. Wanting help, but not knowing how to ask for it, he physically hurts himself to get someone to notice his real pain. If the anger is greater than the hurt, the teen might attempt suicide to punish his parents. "See what you did to me? I'm going to make you suffer now." If the hurt, the anger, and the depression become chronic, a teen may see no way out of the pain except death. Then the attempt is not a cry for help; it is really a botched suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of teen deaths, with accidents and acts of violence being first and second. Some accidents are actually veiled suicide attempts. Taking drugs can be a slow form of suicide. A backbone family is rarely confronted with attempted suicides. The environment the child grows up in where his feelings are accepted, his ideas count, his basic needs met, and his mistakes seen as learning opportunities provides the structure to flesh out a sense of his true self and the tools necessary to help him solve the myriad problems he will face. Nevertheless no cry for help is ignored, laughed at, or dismissed as foolish. pp 124-6
It's going to take example, guidance, and instruction from us to impart to our children the wisdom of peacemakers: Violence is "the knot of bondage"' aggression only begets more aggression; passivity invites it; and assertion can dissipate it. Peace is not the absence of conflict. It is the embracing of conflict as a challenge and an opportunity to grow. page 148 (less)
Joy for Beginners centers around Kate, a woman who has just come out the other side of her cancer treatment. During an intimate party with friends to...moreJoy for Beginners centers around Kate, a woman who has just come out the other side of her cancer treatment. During an intimate party with friends to celebrate her recovery, she promises to do something that terrifies her: rafting down the Grand Canyon, so long as each woman in the circle of friends agrees to do the one challenge she gives them.
And so we are taken through each of their individual challenges and stories - Caroline, Daria, Sara, Hadley, Marion, Ava, Kate - as we learn how they are all interconnected with one another, what their particular challenge was, and why.
Unfortunately, for me, there just wasn't enough "glue" in between all their individual stories to form a solid cohesive impression in my mind in the end, and ultimately the book felt more like six short-stories that occasionally referred to each other. I pretty much picked up on the connections between characters when they were made, but the weren't lasting impressions.
Overall it was a quick and good read. While I found it easy to relate to each character, I'm sure everyone will find themselves drawn to a particular person and their challenge.
- - -
Kate looked at the woman around her. I twas an incongruous group - it reminded Kate of a collection of beach rocks gathered over time by an unseen hand, the choices only making sense when they were finally all together. Daria and Marion were sisters, Sara and Hadley neighbors; Kate and Caroline had met when their children were in preschool - individual lives blending and moving apart, running parallel or intersecting for longer or shorter periods of time due to proximity of a natural affinity. It had taken the birth of Sara's twins, and then Kate's illness, to weave their dissimilar connections into a whole. pp 5 - 6
Hadley's house was small, bought almost four years before with the money from her husband's life insurance policy, the one that listed "automobile accident" but never told you about the red of a car slamming out of its lane, the way life couldn't be insured, only paid for. The way the future could become a bank of clouds you couldn't fly over. page 133
"You know," Marion said, "I met a woman once when I was a teenager. I knew she had gone through a lot, but she was so strong, so compassionate. I asked her how she could be the way she was, and you know what she told me?" Hadley shook her head. "She said, 'You can be broken, or broken open. That choice is yours." page 146
She wondered who the architect was who had first understood that basic human need to have a place, a moment, to pause before entering, to shift from the person you were outside to the one you would become when you walked through the door. She hadn't gotten that, she thought, looking at the porch - when Sean died, there had just been before the phone call and after. No illness, no aging. Just Sean and then no Sean. No porch to stand on, to get ready to go inside. page 149(less)
Brace yourself to fall into this subtle, character-driven novel. Haruf skillfully brings the reader into the lives of a select collection of individua...moreBrace yourself to fall into this subtle, character-driven novel. Haruf skillfully brings the reader into the lives of a select collection of individuals living in the rural town of Holt, Colorado. In their stories you will observe a poignant display of humanity. Each of their unique and yet interconnected stories will remind you of why you believe in good people and leave you with a sense of hope. On the contrary, it will, at times, also remind you of the ugliness that lurks in the world as well. Ultimately you will lose yourself in these characters' lives and feel as though you have come to known them as you know people in your real life. This book has a quiet yet profound impact that I surmise will stay with the reader long after the last page has been turned.(less)