This book was loaned to me and I'm so glad I read it. Kushner writes amazing things. Each story is a musing of his about some lesson he's learned in hThis book was loaned to me and I'm so glad I read it. Kushner writes amazing things. Each story is a musing of his about some lesson he's learned in his life. If I was smarter, the first time I read this I would have used each story as a meditation point instead of reading it straight through. I think I would have gotten more out of the book's lessons that way. As it was, I read some wonderful insights into spirituality and learned a lot about myself in the process. Definitely worth a quick glance or two. ...more
**spoiler alert** I originally bought this book when I broke my ankle and needed something to take my mind off trash tv. This was the book that really**spoiler alert** I originally bought this book when I broke my ankle and needed something to take my mind off trash tv. This was the book that really cemented for me that I want to write a book about old people. Wow, that sounds really superficial. Okay, what I mean is, I want to write a book about a person looking back on their life. I think we have a misconception that just because a person's reached a certain age then they don't have real thoughts anymore. Or, they never had real thoughts. Like, just because somebody's old they never had dreams or did crazy things--like run off and join the circus two weeks before the final exams that would have made them a college graduate. The story is told by Jacob Jankowski but it's as much Rosie's story as anything. Rosie being the elephant. Call me crazy, call me sentimental, but after Dumbo I love a good elephant/circus story. And this story is more than just the Disneyfied romantic idea of what a circus was. It's got serious issues to deal with (like what happens when you drink bad moonshine for example) and serious characters (a ringmaster that gives Kevin Kline's Nathan Landau a run for his money) and a little romance that didn't take center stage, which I actually appreciated. Sure, it's got it's problems, but for pure escapist entertainment, it's pretty sweet.
**spoiler alert** After that whole scandal with that sect of fundamentalist Mormons getting arrested for polygamy and child molestation I wasn't surpr**spoiler alert** After that whole scandal with that sect of fundamentalist Mormons getting arrested for polygamy and child molestation I wasn't surprised that suddenly there's an influx of fundie Morman lit. I don't like that last line. I mean, it's what I wanted to say, but it implies that this book is only a "ripped from the headlines" type novel and it's not. It's told from two different perspectives, first, from the point of view of Jordan, a modern day guy who got kicked out of just such a community, and second, from the point of view of Ann Eliza, Brigham Young's nineteenth wife. Jordan's story parallels Ann Eliza's in such a way that when something happens in Jordan's life we're privy to writings of Ann Eliza's to illustrate why the thing that happened to Jordan (and his family) was allowed to happen in the first place. It's an interesting storytelling style that could have gone flat very quickly and it's a testament to Ebershoff's writing style that it did. It was really very gripping in a lot of places and the ending fit with the narrative he'd established. I don't think either story could have stood alone, they needed each other for context, and my hat's off to Ebershoff for writing a really compelling murder mystery and a sympathetic view of what it must have been like to be a part of a religious harem.