A loving book by a loving writer. Maya Angelou has sung beautiful stories of her life and the world before, and this one is quite special. She never hA loving book by a loving writer. Maya Angelou has sung beautiful stories of her life and the world before, and this one is quite special. She never had or adopted a daughter of her own, but wrote this book to anyone who needed a mother's guidance. As someone who yearns for a mother's voice, I loved this book, but I think any gender or situation can still read it to learn and page turn movingly. The short book is full of admiration and patience for her readers in all their various forms: "I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you."
Her offering includes some horrifying and wondrous experiences that beget lessons. She takes time to share poetry and humor. Most of all, there is the song, the soul message to the reader that you are not alone. I learned a lot about respecting other strangers, about independence from those you love, about calling out bullshit when violence is trying to be justify. Each story makes you keep listening to the end, but stops and thinks about things too: mothers, daughters, a life of singing, surviving rape, the importance of table manners, getting a job, raising a child, defying stereotypes of the past and now, why and when to smile, and mostly, how to deal with life: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”
It's swift and good read, but an even better listen. If you can, download or rent the audiobook version. Maya Angelou, a woman who has used her to work voice in jazz clubs, broadway plays, and civil rights movements, is also an incredible narrator. She takes her time with you, with language, vibrating illumination into every word and listener. I'd like to recommend this to anyone, but especially those who are mothers or those who miss their mothers. I thank Angelou for writing it. ...more
Peculiar and magnificent little book about words, about their power. It follows an orphan little girl who, though illiterate, begins stealing books atPeculiar and magnificent little book about words, about their power. It follows an orphan little girl who, though illiterate, begins stealing books at a time where they are burned. Yes, it takes place during the Holocaust. She does learn to read, she learns to write too. And it's a good thing, for she has a lot to say. Over the course of the book, she loses a brother, she gets adopted, she makes a best friend, she joins the Hitler Youth, she lives in Nazi Germany, she hides a Jew in her basement. Despite having so much happen to her and her making so much happen, despite being the reader and writer in the story, it is not narrated by her. It is narrated by Death. He takes an interest and follows her for 4 years. It's interesting to read a book told by a character who doesn't share one of the very few things that all the other characters share, that all life shares. We are going to die. So if you're not going to die, can you have anything at stake in a story? Well, I won't give away anything on where Death takes us, but the narration is quite funny and incredibly sensitive, and yes, there is so much at stake. Far more than 60 million lives he has to take or leave. Death doesn't show us the whole world, but it shows us each character we meet's whole world. I learned a lot about life in Nazi Germany for the citizens. Death pays such attention to what each person says; to what the girl, the Jew, the Fuhrer writes. He articulates how the words you say out loud are so important to the people you know, how they change the world for the better or worse, how silence doesn't always mean peace, how sometimes there's nothing to say, how you can love and hate words, how you try to make them right. A good read, highly recommended. ...more
I was actually very bored with this book as there was so little about Primates. I learned nothing about them. I'm not agaiNeeds More About Primates...
I was actually very bored with this book as there was so little about Primates. I learned nothing about them. I'm not against bio-comics on theses remarkable people, but actually there was little about the three heroines too. Just how they got their jobs, office talk, packing for Africa - boring! With the exception of the Jane section, the author didn't dig deep into who these people are/were, and showed us so little about how they interacted with our cousin primates. I don't this book would interest kids or adults. ...more
Was delighted to get what I didn't expect. I expected a tale driven by lust for men, guilt before God, and only unavoidable tragedy. No, there was a fWas delighted to get what I didn't expect. I expected a tale driven by lust for men, guilt before God, and only unavoidable tragedy. No, there was a fresh tale of its own that followed many paths, some heartbreaking, some triumphant. "The Red Tent" is the story of Dinah (Jacob and Leah's daughter). She only has a line or two in the Torah, so I'm excited to read a new myth about her.
But first and also, it tells the story of her mothers, that's a 3rd of the book actually….Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah…4 extremely unique and complex people, who I wish had chapters of their own long ago. Instead of going the shallow, predictable direction of watching the wives battle each other for Jacob's affection, it shows their own identities in surviving an abusive father, having various passions and gifts for food or spinning or storytelling, having complex relationships with the Goddesses they worship, falling in love and sharing one man, learning to live in harmony with one another, heroically risking their lives to give birth, the pain of losing sons to men, and giving their souls to their one daughter. The book really celebrates being a women, and yet how challenging it is to celebrate it in the world, not in the least when you're a Jewess. In Dinah's unique household, having one's bleeding is joyful and respected (as long as the men stay away, who consider it an abomination, and sometimes break in causing damage and hurt).
I really like it how no gender in the book is better. At the same time, the characters don't know that. Their prejudice is clear. The women are sometimes against themselves or against men, just as they are to them…alas, the women suffer far more and without say. I do wish more than 2 genders were explored, as the world of this book seems to think there are only two (except when they explore different Gods and Goddesses). There is a little hint. Joseph is far more womanly than his brothers and this causes a rift early on. He also has a keen respect for females and takes their stories as seriously as he does his father's. This is a cool direction the book goes in, but I wish it went further.
The book is really clever in showing the dangers of thinking only one religion is true and all others must be destroyed/punished. And I'm not talking on a crusade level, but just within a household. Instead sharing with one children's, but eventually letting them decide, a loving husband like Jacob can suddenly become a tyrant. Or Rebecca's cruelty can be justify just cause she's a priestess. Not to the extent hurting others' feelings, but ruining others' lives altogether. I like how it goes further to show other cultures with faults and virtues. The Egyptians Dinah meets and lives with can be wonderful, terrible, and sometimes in-between. Their culture holds things that are liberating and heartbreaking to her. Their gods are new stories that help her make it through life but can also tear loved ones apart.
But so far the clincher of the book for me is that Dinah making a journey. This could have so easy been a behind the scenes book and stayed in the land of Canaan. Without giving too much away, Dinah escapes and travels at her own will where many dangers and promises are awaiting her. She experiences all kinds of ways - careless romance, hard earned love, slavery, motherhood, widowhood, new love, post traumatic stress disorder, earning a living, being provided for, making friends, cruising loved ones, caring for others, being cared for. Her chapters really are chapters rather than continuations. She's always in the state of becoming, not just with situation, but character too. Unlike "The Mists of Avalon" (which is a great book, but just kept spiraling into tragedy to the point that you always knew what was coming), you don't know what's gonna happen to Dinah as you follow her from birth to old age and before/after. You don't know if her life is in vein, is lesson filled, a love story, a road to freedom? And does having a story of her own mean anything to us the reader? I imagine so many will have different reactions to the story.
One thing I don't like is the depiction of old age in here, which is either only suffering or insanity, and no room for change. With so much change happening with Dinah throughout her life, I don't understand why the other characters couldn't develop in their older years. People are not stuck from making choices or changing their minds once they're senior citizens. And I don't understand why almost no one is cared for. I get it that many wouldn't be, but I'd like to see the exceptions. Whereas other things that are wrong like slavery are clearly wrong in the book, the narrator doesn't seem to know that hatred of the elderly nor fear of age itself is wrong, or at least something that like the other dangers and wonders of life (like childbirth) can be faced together and with compassion and reason and risk and reward.
I also just viewed the tv film, which while certainly not great, was good, better than I excpected. Not as good as the book, but in certain scenes stronger. I do actually like that the men in the film, as opposed to the book, can find redemption like the women. In the book, one of its weaknesses, males seem to have a sealed fate once they do something horrible. But the film, there are males that change, just as their are women that don't. Check out both one day, so worth the time, and will give you a powerful new, but somehow ancient thoughts on life. It's a good story whether you're religious or not. And pay no attention to those complaining about it not being biblically accurate. 1st of all, it's novel, it doesn't have to be. 2nd of all, it technically is, it just shows all the myths from a different angle…as it should. Myths are meant to belong to people, not institutions and should change and last as long as we do.
Overall, what I liked most was it was tale of the motherhood. You'll learn a lot about being a mother in this. It is more than anything the tale of mother and daughters, and the relationship are so fine and hurtful and beautiful and loving and powerful enough to go beyond a lifetime. ...more
I avoided this book cause the movie trailer made me think it was gonna be a cliche story and make it tragic because she was so young to get dementia (I avoided this book cause the movie trailer made me think it was gonna be a cliche story and make it tragic because she was so young to get dementia (and the book does have a major problem with depicting the elderly "characters" for the brief time they appear, showing them abandoned to 'crazy' habits in a nursing home that the main character knows she could never be a part of). But it turned out to be a lovely and painful story. And not in the polite or uncomfortable way. In a way where you get and care for Alice and the people in her life. It showed some of the common attitudes and cruelties people with alzheimer's have to put up with - from family, friends, medical professionals. What I liked most is that Alice challenges the people around her, and those people learn and mature for their own lives and to cherish her. Also that Alice matures too from starting pages to finish. The book is clear that while she loses her memory and is going to get worse, she is still a feeling, thinking and developing person. She is "not dying of Alzheimer's, but living with Alzheimer's". I'm glad I read this as I learned a bit what it feels like (the book does well as a 3rd person narrator that tells through Alice's view, so we can be just as clear or confused or both as she is). It is only about one person with alzheimer's, so it's limited, and again, I don't like it's ridiculous dismissal of the elderly! However, I also look forward to seeing the movie now, which I'm sure will have it's only set of faults and gifts. Recommended. ...more
Dang! This book was so anti-climatic. The author really cared about her characters, and they were genuine and interesting. But dang they often ended uDang! This book was so anti-climatic. The author really cared about her characters, and they were genuine and interesting. But dang they often ended up doing the most boring things with such predictable page turns. The author had the language and sensitivity to explore these people and let them do unexpected choices or revealings, but anytime she went past their last skin layer, she stopped and focused on property paperwork and social worker policies and steps to cleaning an apartment. Dang... I was really hoping his be on par with Wonder or Out of My Mind, but no......more