A great & honest viewpoint of life from an Afghan immigrant. The writing is at times simplistic, but the events and emotions are moving and heartbA great & honest viewpoint of life from an Afghan immigrant. The writing is at times simplistic, but the events and emotions are moving and heartbreaking. Shines an important light on the very real logical & emotional issues faced by many people as they deal with unstable/hateful governments and subsequently try for a new life in America. ...more
I loved this book, and I think it is a definite must read for anyone who has ever felt as though they are on the fringe of society.
*a few spoilers aheI loved this book, and I think it is a definite must read for anyone who has ever felt as though they are on the fringe of society.
*a few spoilers ahead*
At 23, I'm not exactly the target audience probably, since the main character is beginning high school and I've finished college already. I can't decide if it's a good or bad thing I read this so late.
It's good because it is quite melancholy, and there's a chance I would have slipped even further into that if I read it in my already-quite-melancholy state during high school...which could have been too much. On the other hand, that's precisely why it would have been good to read it then- to have something to connect to when all else seemed disconnected. As much as I connected with it now, it was more of a "Oh yes, I remember that" type of connection rather than a "Oh yes, I am going through exactly the same thing" connection. Still meaningful, but different.
Charlie is definitely a strange bird, but in a good way I think. I'll be honest and say that I didn't see the issue with Aunt Helen coming at all. In a way, I think it diminished the story to be honest. The reason Charlie was so easy to relate to was that he saw things just a little bit differently, and I felt like the Aunt Helen issue was supposed to "explain" why he was different. I personally would have liked it much better if it was just different...because he was different. No terrible trauma or anything, just a kid who was the way he was.
I also felt that way about him letting Patrick kiss him. He didn't seem to actively want it yet he couldn't say that to Patrick. I get that he didn't want to kick the guy when he was down, but at the same time he needs to truly be himself and say no. Letting someone kiss or touch you just to make themselves feel better is a terrible thing, in my opinion. It sends the message that you don't feel you have control over your own body and that is disheartening in my opinion.
I will say, this book is not about a true loner, which is what I expected for some reason. I think perhaps the point is that Charlie was/would be a loner except for the advice to "participate." As someone who struggles with that myself, I have to say that he had a much easier time finding friends than I ever had. He walks up to Patrick and Sam and boom, best friends who are older and cooler and yet still like you and introduce you to a ready made circle of people. Quite a lucky strike there, Charlie. I appreciate that it shows everyone does have a place, but he could have struggled a little bit more to find it. Yes, he had issues with friends...but he still had them. He had issues with his family...but it was still a caring environment. I mean, if I get hospitalized I'm having maybe 3 visitors (and 2 of those are my parents, the other is my husband).
I feel like this review is making it sound like I didn't like the book, which I really really did. I guess it's just easier to put into words what I would have improved versus the already great parts.
I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in less than 12 hours, so yay for having a day off work! It was great. The thing I liked best about this bookI absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in less than 12 hours, so yay for having a day off work! It was great. The thing I liked best about this book was that it wasn't "preachy" about feminism in any way. There were times it looked like it could go that way, but IMO the author was very good about highlighting both sides of an issue. If she didn't support something, she mentioned asking other parents why they allowed/supported that something. She may not always have agreed with their response, but for the most part I felt like she presented it respectfully. And she admitted that in several cases she didn't know the right choice, and admitted to acting hypocritically at some points (giving in & buying her daughter the princess Barbie for instance, after she originally said no and made her daughter cry). So this book wasn't a black and white "This is right, this is wrong" situation, it didn't make clear cut "this will screw your daughter up" statements. It was more of an exploration of the spectrum, including the gray areas, and looking at the possible ways the media & marketing & general treatment of young girls can affect them as people, both now & in the future as they grow up. There's so much I want to comment on, so I'm going to just start pulling quotes from the book. I marked a TON of pages, so this could be a long one y'all.
-She mentions a 2006 survey where school-aged girls reported feeling a "paralyzing pressure to be "perfect"":
Rather than living the dream, then, those girls were straddling a contradiction: struggling to fulfill all the new expectations we have of them without letting go of the old ones. ...they now feel that they must not only "have it all" but be it all: Cinderella and Supergirl. Aggressive and agreeable. Smart and stunning.
I found this to be very true. It's not enough that a girl is intelligent if she's not (today's society version of) pretty- she's then (often, not all but often) considered as undersirable romatically. So in order to be attractive to a potential partner, she also has to be physically alluring and then she'll be considered the "whole package." It definitely can be stressful, in my personal experience, to feel like if you excel in one area (ie school or sports or what have you) that it's not enough if you aren't also the stereotypical "girly girl." As Susan Douglas is quoted:
We can excel in school, play sports, go to college, aspire to- and get- jobs previously reserved for men, be working mothers, and so forth. But in exchange we must obsess about our faces, weight, breast size, clothing brands, decorating, perfectly calibrated child-rearing; about pleasing men and being envied by other women.
-Much time is spent examining the Disney Princess products & general theme. She also visits the American Girl store, which would seem like the antithesis of the Princess. And while she isn't particularly fond of either, she does realize why some (most, in my personal experience) accept and even encourage these brands:
It is a peculiar inversion: the simplicity of American Girl is expensive, while the finery of Princess comes cheap. In the end, though, the appeal to parents is the same: both lines tacitly promise to keep girls young and "safe" from sexualization.
So while these brands may be, on one had, too expensive to be reasonable and on the other, too limiting...at the end of the day they feel safer than (very few) other options that are out there.
-There is an entire chapter dedicated to how just about damn near everything marketed for girls is pink. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of pink. I do like it, occasionally, but it seems that if you wear it you are proclaiming you are ultra-feminine...and I'm not. So it feels almost like lying if I wear it. She examines the marketing purpose of creating such a division, and also gives some background on how things were a hundred years ago:
...in the era before Maytag, all babies wore white as a practical matter, since the only way of getting clothes clean was to boil them. What's more, both boys and girls wore what was thought of as gender-neutral dresses. When nursery colors were introduced, pink was actually considered the more masculine hue, a pastel version of red, which was associated with strength. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy, and faithfulness, symbolized femininity.
But why does color even matter? Why is it gender-specific at all? It's suggested here that again, it's all a marketing purpose- so you have to buy two. Think about it- you have a daughter. You spoil her with everything that is girly...so therefore sparkly & pink. Then you have a son. Even if he's okay with using a pink baseball glove...the kids on the playground are probably going to clue him in that that's not the social norm by, say, tormenting him (either physically or verbally). This makes everyone upset, so you go buy him a brown "boy" glove.
-She also visits a children's beauty pageant- thing Toddlers and Tiaras (no, really- one of the families she spoke with was on the show). One of the main families she talked with had a disabled son in addition to their pageant daughter, and this was one of the reasons they began pageanting in the first place. The parents felt so guilty for having to focus so much time & energy on their son that they wanted to make up for by supporting their daughter in pageants- after all, you get told you're super special (if you win) and a tiara, just like a...say it with me...princess!
And isn't that, at ist core, what the princess fantasy is about for all of us? "Princess" is how we tell little girls that they are special, precious. "Princess" is how we express our aspirations, hopes, and dreams for them. "Princess" is the wish that we could protect them from pain, that they would never know sorrow, that they will live happily ever after ensconced in lace and innocence.
It's a sweet idea, and it's completely understandable why this appeals to both parents and children. But the thing people seem to want to forget is that it's just not logical. You can't protect them forever. They do grow up and they make mistakes and they do get hurt. The Princess fantasy might make for some nice memories and fuzzy feelings as a kid, but what if it's leading to life screwing them that much harder later?
-Like I mentioned in my first paragraph, though, this book did look at other things besides the stereotypical girly labels like Princess and Barbie...and she found issues there. Even in children's books written specifically to shy away from stereotypes, there is a resounding attitude of "anti-boy" in these supposedly "pro-girl" books. This is a problem I have long had with "feminism" and why I usually hesitate to read any books like this. Orenstein asks if this is really a better lesson to be teaching girls:
Step out of line, and you end up solo or, worse, sailing crazily over a cliff to your doom.
I have never understood why part of being an "empowered woman" meant shunning men...glad I'm finally hearing someone else ask that question as well.
-She also touched on the appeal of Twilight which, although embraced by women of all ages, was actually written for young adults (so ie teens). It has been critiqued for many reasons, part of it being that the main relationship between Bella & Edward is really dependent and (supposedly) mirrors abusive relationships. Bella lives solely for Edward, and goes into zombie mood when he leaves (sorry for that spoiler if you haven't read it :p). But PO nails a big part of the appeal- Bella isn't special. She isn't obsessed with her looks (even though Edward thinks she's beautiful & says others do to, she doesn't feel that way), she isn't at the top of the class, she doesn't have an awesome hobby, she doesn't play sports- she's completely average. While envying the beauty and specialness shouldn't be the main focus in life, it is a part of life for girls especially. And to finally have a character who isn't a princess or anything else special is a relief- especially when she still manages to snag the most want-able guy in town. PO also suggests that the fact that Bella & Edward don't have sex (until marriage) is a a welcome relief in a world that often screams SEX SEX SEX.
-There was also a section about young actresses/singers that I really enjoyed. She looked at all the recent situations of these beautiful, innocent young girls and their transformations into crazy whores- Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, etc. PO suggests it is in fact the we (as in society) do place so much value on proving the innocence (speaking sexually) of these girls that once they grow up (which they all will) and begin to try to deal with their own sexuality that we feel betrayed and brand them as slutty. And being sexy or even having sex isn't neccesarily slutty. I think a big part of it is that parents freak out when stars grow up because it's a reminder that their own children are growing up. Hopefully not as fast as those in the limelight, but still. Honestly the outfits, etc that most of these stars are judged on aren't too much more risque than what I've seen people their age where here in the "normal" world. The difference is that these girls don't have their pictures taken and published for the entire world to judge over coffee.
-You can't deny it:
Even as I wish it were otherwise, even as I fight for it to be otherwise- I, too, know in my heart that how girls look does make a difference in how the world percieves them, and the more progress they make in other areas, the more that seems to be true.
The phases of our lives have become strangely blurred, as girls try to look like adult women and adult omen primp and preen and work out like crazy in order to look like girls.
-Comparison of the New Year's resolutions of a girl at the end of the nineteenth century to NYR's of a girl at the end of the twentieth century.
19th: Resolved: to think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversations and actions. Not to let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself more in others.
20th: I will try to make myself better in any way I possibly can...I will lose weight, get new lenses, already got new haircut, good makeup, new clothes and accessories.
-The dreaded "fat" feeling...
Although my body and I have reached if not peace, at least a state of adente, "fat" remains how I experience anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment. I feel "fat" if I can't master a new task at work. I feel "fat" if I can't please those I love. "Fat" is how I blame myself for my failures. "Fat" is how I express my anxieties. A psychologist once told me, "Fat is not a feeling." If only it were that simple.
-Catherine Steiner-Adair's opinion on telling girls they are beautiful (she is the director of eating disorders education and prevention at the Klarman Eating Disorders Center in Mass.); I found it interesting.
""You're beautiful" is not something you want to say over and over to your daughter, because it's not something you want her to think is so important. That said,...there are times when it is important to say it: when she's messy or sweaty, when she's not dressed up, so that she gets a sense that there is something naturally beautiful about her as a person. And it's also important to connect beauty and love. To say 'I love you so much. Everything about you is beautiful to me- you are beautiful to me.' That way you're not just objectifying her body."
-When Hilary Clinton was in the running for President, I often felt like she wasn't treated fairly. There was so much emphasis on the fact that she was a woman that it was ridiculous. And while everyone may say that Obama's race was a factor...I argue that there were just as many sexist jokes as there were racist ones. The part that killed me was that even in forums Hillary got questions that would never have been asked of a male canidate- for instance the "Pearls or diamonds?" preference question. WTF does that have to do with anything.
I had often wondered whether Clinton was a symbol of how far we'd come as women or how far we had to go.
And to go along with that,
Yet though we tell little girls "You can be anything you want to be," we know, from life experience, that that is still not quite true. At least not without a price.
And yet another esample...that basically describes me to a tee-
This is the kind of thing all the books about raising smart, strong girls fail to mention. Frequently, after I have given a lecture on the topic myself, someone has commented, "My daughter does speak up and stand up for herself, and she doesn't wear trampy clothes or caked on makeup. And do you know what she gets called? A bitch.
Again, it's sailing off the cliff...
-I've been searching for this myself...
an authentic, unconflicted balance of feminism and femininity, one that will sustain rather than constrain them.
-A perspective of the online world and how teens (although sadly some adults too) end up treating their identity from a researcher at Children's Digital Media Center: I sadly have to agree, and have thought about this more each time I wonder how people gain tons of followers on blogger/tumblr/etc.
The self, Manago said, becomes a brand, something to be marketed to others rather than developed from within. Instead of intimates with whom you interact for the sake of exchange, friends become your consumers, an audience for whom you perform.
-Acknowledging the hypocrisy of it all:
Perhaps that high-wire act, as much as anything, reveals the lie of girls' popular culture: if the sexualization and attention to appearance truly "empowered" girls, they would emerge from childhood with more freedom and control over their sexuality. Instead, they seem to have less: they have learned that sexiness confers power- unless you use it (or are perceived as using it). The fastest way to take a girl down remains, as ever, to attack her looks or sexual behavior.
How many times have we as females seen, felt, or- let's be honest- dealt this kind of judgement and hurt?
-A good basic principal to round it all out:
The point...is not so much to raise children who are cynical about the media as ones who are skeptical.
This is something that I hope I can portray to my children once I have them. Hell, it's something I am still trying to live myself. ...more
I should honestly probably wait and write a review after I've had more time to process what I just took in.
The book is told through the eyes of two woI should honestly probably wait and write a review after I've had more time to process what I just took in.
The book is told through the eyes of two women. One is married to a doctor, one is the mother of that doctor's patient. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that the doctor strikes something up with the mother.
The book promotes a lot of questions: about exactly what constitutes cheating, is there ever an acceptable reason, does it matter how the spouse finds out, can you ever move past it...many very difficult and upsetting aspects of an unfortunate situation.
For the most part, I was able to relate to the characters. Or, if I couldn't relate to them within myself, I knew someone like them. Cheating is not the only fleshy topic in this story, as it also touches quite well on aspects of motherhood, the sisterhood of women (if this does in fact exist), family and how crazy that organization is, and the materialistic & social pressures so often placed on/accepted by women.
I am not going to say that I enjoyed this book, because the topic makes me uncomfortable (I don't see how someone who has voluntarily stood in front of their family, friends, and God and taken vows which pledged them to another person can think of those vows being broken pleasurably). It is difficult and messy and unfortunate. But Giffin took this messy topic on head first, and for that I applaud her. This story showed the different "shades of gray" so to speak.
I personally related much more to the wife, whether because I am one myself or because Giffin chose to make her portion of the story be told in first person. The patient's mother was understandable at first but eventually became a stereotype and quite annoying. The absence of the man's perspective seemed to symbolize the fact that ultimately, each one of us is responsible for our lives and actions. Those we just to include make choices that affect us, but at the end of every day we make our own choices....more
I absolutely L.O.V.E.D this book. It was so amazing. I really needed to read something inspirational and uplifting, and this was it.
As usual, I didn'tI absolutely L.O.V.E.D this book. It was so amazing. I really needed to read something inspirational and uplifting, and this was it.
As usual, I didn't agree with everything in the book. I think when it comes to religion, it's almost impossible for 2 people to truly agree on everything. But there was enough in there that I did agree/identify with that I will probably reread it a million times in my life.
I grew up in churches in NC that are just like the ones Ronda describes in this book. I've seriously sat next to half of the characters in this book at one point or another I think. What I recognized in those churches and in the strong Christians I was blessed to be surrounded by, but haven't yet been able to master, is the habit of honestly, truly making Christ the center of my world. I tend to freak out for a while, trying to handle issues myself, and then pray, instead of heading straight to Him at the first sign of trouble. So to read so many examples of people doing just that, putting Jesus first, is definitely something I can learn from.
I love the common sense sayings sprinkled throughout the book right along with Bible verses. It's just so definitive of the atmosphere I grew up in. I think that the faith part of this book is something that everyone, no matter where they're from, can relate to. But there are certain things that are just different in the South...and Ronda mentions them all. There's just a rhythm, a certain way of doing things that you can't really explain. It just is what it is. And I miss that, I need that comfort of being "home." It probably doesn't make sense to miss a geographical area, but the South is so much more than that. It's a culture all of it's own, and it's the one I belong too. There Christianity was a daily part of my life. The hardest part of moving for me is always finding a new church, a new supportive group of Christians that I can call my brothers & sisters. And I think part of that is because Christianity is treated differently there. I know there are devout, outstanding Christians all over the place but like I said, the rhythm of how to do things is different.
Ok, kind of a stupid example but here is the best way I can think of to explain it: There is a country song called Copperhead Road that has a line dance to it. But there are tons of different versions, I know of at least 3. Each version resembles the others, they're all to the same song, & serve the same purpose. But when you first move to an area, it takes some catching on to switch to whatever version is dominant there. So for me, the way of worship is just different outside of the South and it's taking me a while to catch on. Which is part of the reason I loved this book- it was my version, my rhythm...it said what I needed to hear in the accent and style I needed to hear it in.
I don't feel like I can truly describe how awesome this book is. It's just something that has to be experienced for yourself. All I can say is that I didn't read this book so much as gobble it down (picture someone who's been on Atkins for a few months giving in to a loaded baked potato), and that I will probably read it regularly throughout my life because it is one of the few Christian books I felt like was real instead of just preachy. ...more
I thought this book was amazing. It was a very clear and poignant look inside the world of Aspbergers. I do not have the disorder, I don't even know aI thought this book was amazing. It was a very clear and poignant look inside the world of Aspbergers. I do not have the disorder, I don't even know anyone who does. But I think anyone who is interested in people, and especially anyone who has ever felt like a misfit in some way, can relate to and appreciate this book....more
I really loved this book. It is about a woman's struggle with her precocious step son on the heels of her own daughter's de**spoiler alert** *SPOILER*
I really loved this book. It is about a woman's struggle with her precocious step son on the heels of her own daughter's death from SIDS. I have never had to deal with that so I can only imagine what it's like, but it would be impossible to not feel for this woman who is in so much emotional pain and so conflicted in nearly all areas of her life. ...more
**spoiler alert** I had to admire Scarlett. She starts off quite vapid and shallow, but she is indeed a product of her times. To rise up and be the on**spoiler alert** I had to admire Scarlett. She starts off quite vapid and shallow, but she is indeed a product of her times. To rise up and be the one who takes control after the destruction of Atlanta (and basically everywhere else in GA) was surprising but also amazing. I think it proves that no matter what is on the outside, there are qualities inside each one of us that we will never know of until we're forced into certain trying situations. It's not so much her determination that was surprising (she's entirely too selfish to fail) but more the ease she showed in becoming a business woman and head of the household. Most people would have assumed she was nothing more than an air head, but she understood business and money much more than most men, and had the grit to make more.
She did annoy me with her stupid "love" for Ashley though. He so clearly was never man enough for her. I was very disappointed that he was mistaken in his feelings for her and gave her a semblance of hope for their relationship. He wanted her the way a child wants a toy, which is just pitiful when Melanie stood by him and understood him so well. Honestly I think Melly was a hero more than anyone else in the story. She had a quiet grace that truly does represent the best of the South, and I bawled my eyes out like a baby when she died.
Rhett was also a favorite. He was so himself, at all times, no matter what people thought. While I didn't always agree with the things he said, I have to admire someone who can be so honest and reliable in character. It was a little disappointing at how quickly he changed upon the birth of Bonnie, and I think it's quite ironic that the child he had with Scarlett would be the reason he stops loving her. Their conversation at the end of the book only furthered my bawling.
It was more painful than I had imagined it would be to read the account of the Civil War. On the outside it probably seems like there are no similarities between the Civil War and OIF, but once you have seen your soldier off to war it's impossible to read of anyone else doing the same without feeling tumultuous emotions. It is for me, anyway.
Obviously you can't speak of the Civil War and the South without mentioning race. I think this book does a great job at bringing the complicated racial relations into light. Scarlett and her family truly did love their slaves, even if sounds like an oxymoron. Maybe they did not view them as equals, but they viewed them as allies. There were many slaves/former slaves in the book that truly were a part of the family: Mammy, Dicey, Pork, Peter, Big Sam, even Prissy as annoying as she could be. It was an honor that they stayed with their families even given the choice not too. I'm sure some people criticized them, but at least they would be comfortable. Big Sam's account of his time spent up North made me feel so bad for him. I would honestly rather work in a field and be appreciated for that than to be sat down at a fancy table with people who only invited me so they could feel like they were doing to "proper" thing, yet had contempt in their hearts for me. And the Yankee ladies' awe at Scarlett suggesting a black nanny was so frustrating! It illustrated the ironic racism from the North that (in my experience) is still here today. Everyone below the Mason-Dixon line is accused to being racist by birth (I know I have been) but it's so often those who fought on the other side that can't bring themselves to associate with another color. The class system between the slaves (house slave, field hand, etc) was so amusing...usually when people speak about the South and race they view it as all white people hating all black people. In GWTW, however, the African-Americans (I can't bring myself to say negroes as in they did in the book, I feel like I'll be called racist) had a system that was almost caste like. The judgment Mammy especially passed on "free issue" blacks (not the word she used) or trashy whites was very different from the attitude so traditionally imposed on slaves.
There were many other customs and traditions of the South that, while I love my heritage, I'm very glad we no longer have. Like the morning period, for example. Dressing in all black for years seems awful! And for everyone who dies, no matter the relation? I know both Melanie & Scarlett did it for Charles (brother & husband, respectively) and then for Mr. O'Hara (Scarlett's father). I don't recall them doing it for any females, but I believe the only ones who died were Ellen & Bonnie and there was so much going on at that time I may have missed it. I also don't remember the men having to dress in that fashion...
The Southern ladies were so remarkable to me. They bring to mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water. These women were the best well-bred in the state, and yet they rolled up their sleeves and treated hundreds, probably thousands of dying men. They opened their houses when they had to for the Cause, even if it was a lost one. They buried their men and gave up their jewels, along with time and energy, not to mention what little money was left. Their dedication may not make sense to some, but they were fighting for their way of life at home just as much as their men were on the battlefield. It's often been said that Southerners are stubborn, but I think it's more a loyalty to what we know...or maybe I'm just waxing philosophical and making generalizations I have no right to make....more