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
Very engaging feelings. This is first person throughout Catherine, a little girl who struggles accepting her brother's autism. I feel kids who have siVery engaging feelings. This is first person throughout Catherine, a little girl who struggles accepting her brother's autism. I feel kids who have siblings with disabilities need just as much care (though in different forms), and it's often hard for them to get that. This character is kind of on her own and resents it to the point that she doubts herself and her voice. But as the chapters go on, she transforms in details and moments of beauty and frustration. I appreciate stories where kids can step up to the plate for their hearts to grow even when they lack guidance from adults. And I also love How Catherine longs for a certain friend who is away to the point that she avoids meeting up with others. The author gives her friends anyway in unexpected personalities and bodies, and she is able to struggle and make with them. Very good book for kids and adults. ...more
A contemplative narrative about a child and her family during the beginning of WWII when American citizens with Japanese heritage were arrested and taA contemplative narrative about a child and her family during the beginning of WWII when American citizens with Japanese heritage were arrested and taken to live in camps. It's anxious and perplexing to learn about this part in history, and I imagine the author (whose father was in one of the camps) was trying to come to an understanding as well. The book is especially powerful in that it doesn't treat legal or personal racism as issues needed to be debated, but natural as the air. That is racism is part of the everyday life for these main characters. I think each of us, whatever we are, need to remember that when we fight or think of the circumstances surrounding people with different angles (race, sex, wealth, etc) in order to understand and change away from destruction. I'm sad to know that a lot of Japanese (thus American!) culture was lost during the war because of racism. This book gives a powerful lesson about the unfair ways we treat one another and how life is far from fair, as well a realization of personal triumph of how we can at least strive to be who we want without the permission of social and governmental laws. And with all the exiles and meetings and resettlments, there is great lessons in this book about the need of learning about your own culture as well as exploring and befriending the culture of others. This book helps me reconsider the immigration suspense and change going on in America today....more
I think one of the most personal translations of the New Testement I have ever come across! At least in the English Language. When I say personal, I mI think one of the most personal translations of the New Testement I have ever come across! At least in the English Language. When I say personal, I mean never do the scriptures seem so one to one to the reader, especially when Jesus speaks. Takes away that system that cripples people in religions, whcich do not know they can change and grow and contradict. Being a New Yorker by birth and rearing, but a citizen of South Carolina for the last 7 years, this book is something I really had to read to understand language, my country, and all my fellow countrymen. It gives such a sense of the grammar and salvation. I imagine making this book was a labor of love and work, so thank you to the people who put it together! Recommended for linguistics or literature studiers, people studying America, or who just like scriptures for a sense of peace, rebellion, or understanding....more
Not only are Carroll's words sensational to run off the tongue and his thoughts nurturing to the mind, but the child Alice is able to stir curiosity,Not only are Carroll's words sensational to run off the tongue and his thoughts nurturing to the mind, but the child Alice is able to stir curiosity, instability, change, idenity in any reader. I discover new things every time I head through this book......more
Dickens funny as ever, but also beautifully clear in reflecting the corruption and sorrow he saw in the world. So much to say, will write more on himDickens funny as ever, but also beautifully clear in reflecting the corruption and sorrow he saw in the world. So much to say, will write more on him soon....more
Not your cliche story of a life changing teacher, but and honest and beautiful account of the struggle in teaching kids. constant rises + falls, glimmNot your cliche story of a life changing teacher, but and honest and beautiful account of the struggle in teaching kids. constant rises + falls, glimmers of hope with ongoing frustration. Thoughts without a sense of drama or heroism...McCourt tells it like it is. Awesome book....more