I almost stopped reading this book, but I decided to see it to the end and see what was up with Helen. In retrospect, I don't regret finishing it, butI almost stopped reading this book, but I decided to see it to the end and see what was up with Helen. In retrospect, I don't regret finishing it, but I probably should have just stopped reading. The book was fine, but the author did too much over-explaining. For example, at one point Ruby---narrating in the first person---says she ate natto and then defined "natto." This sort of thing happened frequently enough that it ruined the flow and kind of made me wonder if the author thought I was stupid (or didn't know how to use an internet search).
I also didn't find the three women's voices distinct enough for the shifting narrators to work for me. Each was supposed to be hiding things from herself and her friends, but when narrating in the first person, they were all surprisingly introspective and self-aware. It just struck me as false. It might have worked better had it been a third-person narrator with a shifting perspective so we could have seen each woman's actions from the outside.
Also, I'm not sure I buy the large Finnish population in Plain City, Ohio. I'd never heard of a large Finnish population in Ohio at all, so checked it out on Ohio History Connection. According to that site, there were relatively few Finnish Ohioans in the early 20th century, and Union County wasn't one of the places with a significant population of Finns. I looked at a few other sites, and it seems See would have done better to put her Finnish town closer to Cleveland....more
Despite a very implausible coincidence as a centerpiece of this story, I did find it enjoyable. A few too many crushes for my tastes, but at least theDespite a very implausible coincidence as a centerpiece of this story, I did find it enjoyable. A few too many crushes for my tastes, but at least the realistic portrayal of a pre-teen summer fling might have helped scare my nearly ten-year-old off from being interested in "dating" for a few more years....more
Klein's suggestions are good, but as someone who's been simplifying (with varying degrees of success) for more than a decade, most of the recommendatiKlein's suggestions are good, but as someone who's been simplifying (with varying degrees of success) for more than a decade, most of the recommendations aren't new (except having my kids make homemade greeting cards to give as gifts. I really like that idea).
My favorite thing about this book is that Klein suggests simplifying not just for simplicity's sake but as a way to enrich our lives and improve our family relationships. It's easy (and fun, in a Puritanical way) to get caught up in challenges that put a number on how many items we have in our closets or how often we eat out or how much waste we produce, but none of those things is going to stick long-term if there's not a deeper, more significant reason to do them. I enjoy the smug sense of self-satisfaction that self-deprivation gives me, but the changes only stick if the benefits that result outweigh the difficulties. If we keep the focus on how we want our lives to look and how we want our relationships to feel rather than on what we don't want, we'll have a much better time making lasting changes that really improve our lives.
I think this message is in the book, but I might be reading between the lines.
Bottom line: This could be a great resource for those who are just getting into simplifying their lives or as a reminder/encouragement for those who've lost track of simplicity and are feeling overwhelmed, but if you're already deep into simplifying, it will likely have little new to offer you....more
Just as with the first time I read the series, I do think the books are improving over time. The characters, at least, are becoming more nuanced and tJust as with the first time I read the series, I do think the books are improving over time. The characters, at least, are becoming more nuanced and the dad is becoming a little more involved. I do wonder about leaving a twelve-year-old to babysit four younger children. I babysat all kinds of kids starting at age twelve (and my own siblings starting at age ten), but that was in the late 80's. I'm not sure people would go for that these days.
I did have trouble with the ending, part of which I found unlikely and kind of annoying. (view spoiler)[I mean, a twelve-year-old bringing down a fleeing man with a football pass? And why would they not call the police? When the audiobook reached that part, I yelled at it, "Call the police! Call the police!" It did, however, give me a chance to have a talk with my kids about how, if they see someone breaking into someone else's house, they should really CALL THE POLICE, not try and tie him up themselves. And related to that, why didn't any of the adults check out Batty's story about Bug Man? I mean, even though she's only four, clearly she was upset about a strange man lurking around the neighborhood and that seems like enough reason to not immediately dismiss her concerns. (hide spoiler)]
On to The Penderwicks at Point Mouette! The Penderwicks in Spring is in at the library, but my kids won't let us read it until we've read Point Mouette.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Although he really enjoyed the last chapter with the Russian ballet dancer, I think my son's interest in this series is flagging. This works for me asAlthough he really enjoyed the last chapter with the Russian ballet dancer, I think my son's interest in this series is flagging. This works for me as I'm ready for a break anyway. We've read so much Paddington lately, I'm starting to dislike marmalade, and I've never even had it before....more
When I finished reading this book to him, my five-and-a-half-year-old said, "Mom, if I could live a life like his, I would be so happy!" He then proceWhen I finished reading this book to him, my five-and-a-half-year-old said, "Mom, if I could live a life like his, I would be so happy!" He then proceeded to demonstrate a dance he'd made up about the book. "Here's where I swing my hips!" he said. "Now get ready...I'm about to sing!" and he danced while belting out his rendition of "Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham," which appears in the book.
This book earned five stars just for the living room performance it inspired, but it was darned good even without it. Not only is the story inspiring and the illustrations wonderful, this is one of the few books I've found about a boy who dances that doesn't use (or imply) the word "sissy." It's just about a boy---and then a man---who loves to dance so much that he finds a way to share this love with the world. Just the kind of message I want for my ballet- and jazz-loving son....more
I couldn't get into this book much on the re-read. The number of times the kids called each other (or adults) stupid or dopey or said they were goingI couldn't get into this book much on the re-read. The number of times the kids called each other (or adults) stupid or dopey or said they were going to kill one another really bugged me this time. Sure, maybe kids talk to each other that way, but I still didn't like it, and not just because my kids were listening to (and loving) the audiobook, too. The dad's lack of involvement with his daughters also got to me this time. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood this time around. (Actually, I know I'm in a bad mood this time around, and I hoped this book would pull me out of it. Perhaps that's too much to ask of a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy.)...more