I enjoyed this author's first two novels, and this read is another unique, well-written story. While it covers a horrifying tThe Pain of Clipped Wings
I enjoyed this author's first two novels, and this read is another unique, well-written story. While it covers a horrifying time in US history, I found it a bit plodding and not as emotionally involving as her other books.
Sarah Grimke (based on a real person) is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner in Charleston, South Carolina in the early 19th century. The evils of slavery persist around her, personified by Sarah's young maid, Handful (Hetty). Sarah watches helplessly as her mother canes the slaves for any perceived transgression.
Handful loves her mauma, who tells stories about Africa and sews gorgeous quilts with red triangles (signifying wings). Mauma's "story quilt", a narrative of the abuses and strengths of her life, is the only way to express herself in their oppressive, terrifying lives. It's sickening to watch what happens to Handful and her family over the course of the book.
While this story focuses on slavery, gender inequalities also inevitably surface. I feel blessed I live in a world in which the rights of all humans have progressed. This story made me question what I would do if I lived in a time characterized by such blatant racism and sexism. Sarah teaches her younger sister, Nina, to challenge authority, and Sarah and Nina do the best they can to stand up for the rights of the oppressed. Still, it feels like they barely crack the surface in helping foment change. It will take a civil war to start to make a difference.
As Sarah tells Handful, "I've failed in many things, even in my love for you, but I think of you as my friend."
As amazing as these women are, I was puzzled I didn't feel more of an emotional connection to Sarah. But there was one part of the story which completely resonated, making me re-examine a time from my personal history. Sarah meets a Quaker widower, Israel, and helps tutor his children. She is drawn to Israel, but he sends mixed messages. Over time, Sarah changes her dream of becoming a lawyer (unheard of of a woman at that time) to becoming a Quaker minister. When Israel finally asks her to marry him, he doesn't understand why she won't give up that dream.
"There are things I must do. Please, Israel, don't make me choose."
"Wouldn't I, wouldn't we be enough for you?" he said. "You would be a wonderful wife and the best of mothers. We would see to it that you never missed your ambition."
It was his way of telling me. I could not have him and myself both.
That choice feels suffocating, then and now.
Sarah grows stronger throughout the story. Handful observes, Sarah had a firm look in her eye and her voice didn't dither and hesitate like it used to. She'd been boiled down to a good, strong broth. But it's Handful who is a bastion of fortitude. She is my favorite character....more
This page-turner kept me up until 3:00 a.m. It appears to be a brave exploration of the author's personal family demons. While I likedEnding the Cycle
This page-turner kept me up until 3:00 a.m. It appears to be a brave exploration of the author's personal family demons. While I liked it better than Ugly Love, it wasn't my favorite CoHo novel.
Lily has recently finished grad school when her abusive father dies. She's musing about her anti-eulogy on a rooftop when a handsome guy comes up to the roof to vent about something without knowing she's watching him.
First Ryle beats the crap out of a deck chair, then he smokes pot. Lily learns he's a neurosurgeon. (Hello, McDreamy!) Knowing marijuana's effects on the brain, I wouldn't want MY neurosurgeon to be a pot smoker. Something is off with him yet Lily feels drawn in.
I never really connected with Ryle (with good reason, it turns out), and I didn't get a good sense of the other man in her life, Atlas, because once again (like in Ugly Love) a major part of the story happens almost entirely in the past. I'm hoping the next novel this author chooses to write (which I'm sure I'll devour) happens in the present so I can savor the characters more.
I do like how Lily and Ryle start right off the bat sharing "naked truths", which allow them to get deep in a brief time. The naked truths feel ironic given what happens later in the book. They're a good device to show that even if we think we know someone, there may be layers unknown to us.
I also like Ryle's confession about his concerns over adding a relationship to his busy professional life. I have had those exact same thoughts:
I was worried that being in a relationship would add to my responsibilities. That's why I've avoided them my whole life...But after tonight, I realized that maybe a lot of people are just doing it wrong. Because what's happening between us doesn't feel like a responsibility. It feels like a reward.
When Lily was a teenager, she fell in love with a homeless boy, Atlas. She reveals their story through journal entries. When Atlas asks Lily why she loves gardening, her explanation leads him to make a comparison:
"Plants reward you based on the amount of love you show them. If you're cruel to them or neglect them, they give you nothing. But if you care for them and love them the right way, they reward you with gifts in the form of vegetables or fruits or flowers."
"We're just alike," he said. "Plants and humans. Plants need to be loved the right way in order to survive. So do humans. We rely on our parents from birth to love us enough to keep us alive. And if our parents show us the right kind of love, we turn out as better humans overall. But if we're neglected..."
Family dynamics fascinate me and I wish there was more exploration of the family history. We get a good sense of Lily's horror when family dysfunction repeats itself, but I have trouble connecting the dots between Ryle's family trauma and his adult behavior. And I want counseling for these characters to heal from their traumas.
But I LOVED Lily's mother's wisdom when Lily needed it the most.
For some reason Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" was stuck in my head the whole time I read this book, even though the title doesn't fCaught in a Mod Romance
For some reason Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" was stuck in my head the whole time I read this book, even though the title doesn't fit the beat of the song. This book explores the conundrum of dating in the texting era, and boy do I know it ain't easy. I'm one of the growing percentage who has never married and don't foresee that changing soon.
Though I enjoy reading fiction more than non-fiction in my free time, this was quite the enjoyable read: science with a smattering of humor. I liked the images, too--especially the one of Aziz's imagined Indian stalker. :-D
This book had me chuckling, like when Aziz reviews personal ads of yore:
In order to save space, people used abbreviations, like SWM (single white male), SJF (single Jewish female), SBPM (single Black professional male), and, of course, DASP (divorced Asian saxophone player).
Or mocks horrifying wedding vows:
You are a lotion that moisturizes my heart. Without you, my soul has eczema.
I learned some interesting tidbits, like the fact that people with iPhones are more likely to sext than Android users. Wha? I also liked the differentiation of passionate love from companionate love.
Aziz gives good advice to guys for texting women, and I'm glad he includes how technology has affected snooping among couples. I was puzzled he didn't mention speed dating, which I've found to be the most efficient dating method.
I haven't read many Nicholas Sparks novels, but when I heard this one featured an ex-prisoner, I jumped at the chance to read it. Ever sHero's Journey
I haven't read many Nicholas Sparks novels, but when I heard this one featured an ex-prisoner, I jumped at the chance to read it. Ever since falling in love with the TV show Prison Break, I've been enthralled by ex-cons trying to make a better life.
The hero Colin hadn't actually been in prison, however. After one too many bar fights, he managed to make a deal for probation. But I liked his character for another reason: his live and let live philosophy.
Colin is in his early 30s. He had ADHD and learning disabilities as a child, and got into trouble constantly. His parents sent him to military school, where he sustained a trauma and developed a violence and drug problem as a result. But he attended rehab and learned not only to control his temper, but to value himself and let others choose their own paths.
I liked the realistic methods he uses for anger management, including intense physical activity (MMA training), differentiating anger the feeling from aggression the behavior, labeling his emotions, deep breathing, and avoiding drugs.
His reason for wanting to teach third grade is so touching. And I love his non-possessive warmth. He's who he is, and he wants others to be free to live their own lives, without judgment. The heroine Maria isn't quite sure what to make of him at first.
She had to admit that his here's the real me and you can either accept me or not shtick was refreshing.
Colin encourages that deep honesty from Maria, as well.
He shrugged. "Because you told me how you were feeling, even though you suspected it might hurt my feelings. And you told the truth. And you did both those things from a place of vulnerability and concern, because you want your parents to like me. Because you care about me."
It's obvious he's come a long way in his emotional development.
Maria is an attorney from a hard-working Mexican-American family. She helped prosecute a murder years ago but the accused got a lenient sentence, and now it seems the murdered girl's family seeks vengeance. I liked the suspense element of the story. But I didn't like how the villain's identity hit a cliche note for me. I also thought the story was a tad too long.
I loved the movie The Longest Ride so maybe I'll check out that book down the road....more