Just another amazingly great book! Again, quite without knowing it, I selected this book from my library's shelf not realizing it was considered a cla...moreJust another amazingly great book! Again, quite without knowing it, I selected this book from my library's shelf not realizing it was considered a classic American novel. Now that I've read it through, I can see why it holds that reputation.
This book is really a chronology of events in the life of the Nolan family of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It speaks of the abject poverty that existed in the early-1900s, of racism, sexism, birth, death, politics, war and one family's journey through it all.
Betty Smith combines strong female characters with their weaker male counterparts to build this stoic family of women who use education as a means to pull themselves forward with each successive generation; all the while holding true to their spiritual beliefs of the old country.
Read this book! The imagery Smith creates of a young girl growing up in an impoverished New York borough will keep you turning each page until you've finally gotten the whole Nolan story. And even then, you may be sorry the tale is over.
Note: The scene in the book that really took me in was of Francie sitting on her tree hidden fire escape with a pillow, a small bowl of pink & white peppermint wafers and a library book. It reminded me of myself as a small girl, when the sun, wind, sweets and a story made up the perfect afternoon. :)(less)
A delightful find that I wasn't really expecting. Written by an up-and-coming young Canadian writer, I found Sweetness in the Belly to be a very matur...moreA delightful find that I wasn't really expecting. Written by an up-and-coming young Canadian writer, I found Sweetness in the Belly to be a very mature and sophisticated story about a white English woman living as a Muslim in 1980's Ethiopia. I loved that the descriptive writing took me into the cramped alleyways and the dark huts of Harar and allowed me to feel the atmosphere through words. I became engrossed in the love story of Lilly and Aziz... hey, I'm a girl! But I also became invested in the lives of the secondary characters, willing them all to have happy endings.
There was one thing that upset me once I'd turned the last page. I was upset by the fact that so much of the book was invested in the lives of the family that Lilly lived with in Harar but when she was forced to flee, no more mention was made of them! Not even when she was living and working with refugees in England. No completion to their story, which would be okay with me, if Lilly had shown any interest in their fate. Sometimes in life, we don't always get to know what happened to certain people who touched our lives, but I couldn't buy that she didn't want to know what happened to the twins Rahile & Bortucan, their brothers and their mom.
Otherwise, one of my new favourites! I hope to read more of Camilla Gibbs books as I enjoyed the writing very much.(less)
I don't lightly put a book on my "All-Time Favourites" list but this book, undeniably, deserves such a distinction. I fell in love with it almost from...moreI don't lightly put a book on my "All-Time Favourites" list but this book, undeniably, deserves such a distinction. I fell in love with it almost from the first paragraph because I'm a total sucker for a great narrative. I loved the style and attitude of Hosseini as he took to telling this universal story of two boys, almost polar opposites, yet incomplete without the other.
Courage and cowardice. Integrity and immorality. Life and death. How dissimilar and completely compatible these concepts can be when put into the context of a life or two.
I love it when an author takes me from the comfort of my home into the sometime strained and difficult circumstances of another world; in this case, war-torn Afghanistan. Though we don't get to see Kabul at its most violent, we get to see the pictures of its eventual destruction at the hands of the Taliban regime and have the advantage of Amir's childhood recollections of the same boulevards and streetscapes. And its a heartbreaking story, one that I'm very glad Hosseini had the wherewithall to put down on paper for the world to read.
Too often, we North Americans are sheltered from the harsh realities of other peoples and lands. We are obsessed with our daily pursuit of a really good cup of java and let fall to the wayside the sufferings of others. We see the pictures on the television screens as we wait in line for our double mocha latte and then blink ourselves back into the here and now, forgetting about the obliteration of lives in worlds not so far away. Arrogance, I believe, is what has brought us to this point of disassociation. "It couldn't happen here," we think. I'll bet Amir and Hassan didn't see it possible either, from their perch in the tall trees of Baba's estate. But, it did.
I was grateful for this book. Happy to learn about the aspects of culture I've never had the opportunity to experience. I loved the kite imagery and now that I have reached my due date to deliver my baby boy, have thought much about teaching him the joy of kite building and flying one day. To show him the significance of building and mastering something that can fly, even if you cannot.(less)
I admit, I read Beloved because of the hype surrounding it. I didn't think I'd be all that interested in the story as I'm one easily upset by ghost st...moreI admit, I read Beloved because of the hype surrounding it. I didn't think I'd be all that interested in the story as I'm one easily upset by ghost stories; even short commercial clips of horror films give me bad dreams. But once I got into the first chapter of Beloved I was hooked.
I learned plenty from this book. The main thing that struck me (and perhaps it did so because I read it while 9 months pregnant) was the realization that slaves did not even own claim to their born children! It was a bit of a shock to me to read how easily slave owners tore children from their mothers who were of more use to them in the field than in the nursery. The fact that Sethe was quite uncertain as to who her mother was... well that was just a heart-breaking a-ha moment for me.
I think the one thing I want to say about Morrison's writing is how pregnant (that word again!) it seemed to me. By that, I mean that though the book isn't the longest or thickest I've read, she packed so much into each paragraph, sentence and word! I remember thinking early on in the book that I hadn't read that far into it and already I knew an exorbitant amount about the characters and plot. It seemed with each turned page, another three should be added. I believe that's a testimony to the rich and descriptive writing style of Morrison.
At times the writing seemed a bit too vague and poetic for me to grasp. I read it late at night when I couldn't sleep due to an uncomfortable belly, so that may account for some of my lack of understanding. But the three chapters written in the first person (Sethe, Denver and then Beloved herself) were stand outs. Beautiful monologues by a trio of women all suffering from the tragic events of one fateful day 18 years ago. Especially appreciated was Denver's chapter in which we get to hear the inner voice of the character that at times seems so contrary and strange. Finally, we get the chance to discover her own secrets about how she feels about her mother and what her mother did to her brothers, sister... even herself. I enjoyed watching Denver become a strong women when at first she seemed so weak and almost unlikeable.
As a former drama student and stage manager, I usually read a book and take in all the clues the author throws out about context, costuming, lighting and stage direction. Makes me wonder if Morrison had this story in mind for the stage right from the beginning. I'm sure it makes a remarkable production and I'd love to see it performed. I will also have to make a point to see the movie. Just to see if it compares at all to the richness and completeness of the novel.(less)
Another heart-breaking book about the lives of girls who have suffered at the hands of the FLDS church. A great book and a triumph of the human spirit...moreAnother heart-breaking book about the lives of girls who have suffered at the hands of the FLDS church. A great book and a triumph of the human spirit and the criminal justice system.(less)
I have now read this book through twice with several years in between readings and I have to say... one of the best books I've ever read. Much of that...moreI have now read this book through twice with several years in between readings and I have to say... one of the best books I've ever read. Much of that is due to the fact that the book chronicles the events of a typical Mennonite family living in Russia during this time period. Eventhough most of my family had already left for Canada at this time, I still enjoyed reading about the lifestyle my ancestors would have been living had they never left.
I learned a great deal about the traditions, relationships, social institutions and the wealth of Mennonite farmers during those days. And though it was hard to read, I took great interest in the slaughter of the family by the peasants as it struck at the heart of the deep-seeded and ugly roots of poverty at that particular time and place in history.
I highly recommend reading this book for all Mennonites. And for those who are not... read it and learn something about a peace-loving people who are willing to die for their beliefs.(less)
Another great book with fantastic imagery and a pull-you-in storyline that had me turning the pages until the story had come to an end. I was quite ca...moreAnother great book with fantastic imagery and a pull-you-in storyline that had me turning the pages until the story had come to an end. I was quite caught off-guard by this book. I was only expecting to enjoy it somewhat and it, but instead it became one of my favourite books! I can hardly wait to read more from Jane Urquhart.
Some of my favourite parts were how the mother and father tied the boy in the shed to keep him from wandering off and the pain of his release as both a blessing and a curse to the entire family. I enjoyed the scenes where the sister made the red coat on the floor and the pattern was forever etched into the wood. Loved how the two storylines of an old day-dreaming priest and the girl collided on unique and yet same levels. I thoroughly enjoyed the reunion of brother and sister and the journey that they take to France.
Trust me, read it and you'll know why it's become one of my faves!(less)
I learned a lot about bees! Reminded me a bit of the Macauley Culkin movie My Girl. Was a great contrast to having just finished reading Beloved. This...moreI learned a lot about bees! Reminded me a bit of the Macauley Culkin movie My Girl. Was a great contrast to having just finished reading Beloved. This book takes place about 100 years later and it showed both how far and how little society had grown in terms of the acceptance of black people.
I am honestly not sure how I feel about this book, the subject matter or the characters. I have just turned the last page and am still undecided. I've...moreI am honestly not sure how I feel about this book, the subject matter or the characters. I have just turned the last page and am still undecided. I've given it a 3/5 rating because of my indecisiveness. In short, the jury is still out and I'll need time to think about this book before I can offer a proper review. (less)
This book rocked my pre-teen world. It was on a reading list for my Grade 8 class and so many of my classmates read it at the same time, though indepe...moreThis book rocked my pre-teen world. It was on a reading list for my Grade 8 class and so many of my classmates read it at the same time, though independently of one another. As the movie was also out by that time, we coupled our reading with watching the film and it became one of those "not-to-be-forgotten" "Wonder Years" experiences.
I do recall being shocked to learn that the author, at the time of writing, was a girl not much older than myself! I recall enjoying the poetry of Pony Boy and his sensitivity and wondering how many boys like him were really our there! I certainly didn't know any! I mean, the boys I grew up with were mostly gentlemen, but they knew nothing of deeper soulful things like Pony Boy did. Then again, none grew up in the rather sad family situation that Pony Boy found himself in. None of them would have been labelled greasers either! :)
It took me to a world so much different than what I knew existed. It was the first exposure I had to a world of broken families, social castes and violence.
Definitely an eye-opener for a kid who grew up in a white middle-class town.(less)
What a terribly sad and inspiring memoir of a woman who spent almost 30 years living in the poverty, depression and oppression of plural marriage. Its...moreWhat a terribly sad and inspiring memoir of a woman who spent almost 30 years living in the poverty, depression and oppression of plural marriage. Its an unfathomable story of what its like to share your spouse with 9 other women under the guise of religion and higher calling.
Some of the images I won't soon forget are that of Irene's husband pulling her wedding ring off her finger to give to his 10th spouse, how inconsiderately Verlan told Irene how beautiful each of his brides looked on their wedding days, how neglectful he was to each of the women's individual needs and how many offspring (85!) this one man was encouraged to father, all for the spiritual purpose of living what fundamentalist Mormons refer to as "The Principle" of polygamy.
Even though Irene entered this arrangement willing, taking her sister's husband for her own, this book chronicles her journey from indoctrination to the revelation of a brighter future and a more purposeful life. Her story perfectly shows the power behind cult brainwashing and how it can seem a chosen lifestyle on the surface, but really entails years of guilt and disgust shoved on those who choose another way of life.(less)
Not typically a reading style I enjoy. The book had its good points but I can't honestly say I agreed with the point of view of either the shepherd or...moreNot typically a reading style I enjoy. The book had its good points but I can't honestly say I agreed with the point of view of either the shepherd or the author on what brings happiness. There are many different ways to view the world, life and the purpose of each individual and Coelho expresses one such viewpoint. One of which I happen to disagree with on some levels. If I had more time, I'd express myself more clearly, but since I don't, I'll have to leave it with this: a tad bit too existentialist for my liking, not very clear in content (that could be due to translation issues) and a rather slow story in general. To be fair, I did read this book over quite a few weeks as I had a newborn in the house and couldn't devote a lot of time to pondering it. I did enjoy the read but can't say I was at my utmost best when I read it.(less)