Scott Stambach has written an incredibly moving story, laced with dark humor. Ivan Isaenko is a seventeen-year-old boy who has lived his whole life inScott Stambach has written an incredibly moving story, laced with dark humor. Ivan Isaenko is a seventeen-year-old boy who has lived his whole life in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. About 60% of the nuclear fallout from the explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986 landed in Belarus, and Ivan was born with significant physical disabilities. But he is mentally sharp, loves to read, has a wicked sense of humor, and a fascination with sexuality. Ivan had spent his whole life in the hospital and had no family to visit him. The warm, motherly nurse, Natalya, gives him some loving attention and supplies him with books and games.
Ivan's life changes when Polina, an orphaned teen with leukemia, enters the hospital. She's beautiful and sassy, and makes an emotional connection with Ivan. Their relationship is sweet and funny, and touches the heart. Ivan narrates the story about their interactions--two people in challenging circumstances who need love, and hope for a medical miracle.
Once Polina comes into the picture, the book is hard to put down. The author writes with compassion, humor, and lots of heart. Highly recommended.
Lucy Barton is hospitalized for weeks from complications after surgery. She is feeling lonely when her estranged mother travels to her bedside. AlthouLucy Barton is hospitalized for weeks from complications after surgery. She is feeling lonely when her estranged mother travels to her bedside. Although they mostly talk about the people in their family's hometown, there is a wealth of information about what is said and what they are unable to say. The family had lived in poverty, isolation, and without adequate heat in a very rural area. Lucy was a resilient person who had escaped from abuse, poverty, and the trauma of living with a father with PTSD. In spite of a difficult upbringing, there is still a strong mother-daughter bond. This is a beautifully written book about the complexity of relationships, imperfect love, and how the past influences Lucy's present life as a wife, mother, and writer....more
Elizabeth Berg is an expert at writing dialogue between women, and expressing how women draw strength and understanding from their close female friendElizabeth Berg is an expert at writing dialogue between women, and expressing how women draw strength and understanding from their close female friends. In "Talk Before Sleep" Ann Stanley is helping to care for her best friend, Ruth Thomas, in her losing fight with metastatic breast cancer. She is joined by three other friends of Ruth who each offer support in their own way.
Ann is a former nurse, a quiet woman who is devoted to her family. Ruth, an artist, is more unconventional and spontaneous. When Ruth is facing death in her early forties, Ann is dreading losing her best friend. Ann also realizes she will be losing that vibrant spark in her life, the person who helps Ann enjoy life more fully and exposes her to new experiences. Ruth also had her own emotional journey to travel with the support of her beloved friends.
The story is told with a lot of humor, especially in the flashbacks to happier days. It also shows the joys and sorrows in the women's roles as wives and mothers. The men in the book are not well developed characters, but are presented as stereotypical "types". But that is not too important since the spotlight is on the connection that female friendships provide....more