I really wanted to like this book, having liked The Lovely Bones. I kept reading it hoping I would find something to relate to. I just couldn't relateI really wanted to like this book, having liked The Lovely Bones. I kept reading it hoping I would find something to relate to. I just couldn't relate to the codependent relationship of the characters and the whole dysfunctional family. I thought it was well-written and the casual tone amid such drama was interesting. However, it didn't have enough humor or irony to counteract the gruesome plot. Also, the language was too foul for me. The only thing I got out of it was more empathy and understanding for people who have such an enmeshed and codependent relationship with their parents or children....more
I really enjoyed traveling the world with this author on her search for meaning and self. I felt sorry for the author, however, because she has been cI really enjoyed traveling the world with this author on her search for meaning and self. I felt sorry for the author, however, because she has been caught up in the worldly definition of success to the exclusion of marriage and children. At times I found myself wanting to yell at her, "Of course you're miserable and covering the bathroom floor with tears and snot! You're making selfish and wicked choices that will never bring true happiness!" But not everyone can be as morally enlightened as me.:)
Once I got past that, I enjoyed the book as a personal memoir and interesting portrayal of several people and cultures around the world. In lots of ways, the author is completely opposite from me and made me want to be more like her. I loved how she can make friends with anyone, anywhere. She definitely would not have had such meaningful and interesting experiences without that gift. By the end of the book, I could see why she started with Italy, and ended with Indonesia. Italy was all about personal pleasure and no substance. It was fun, but not satisfying. I loved the section in India and marvel that she was able to find such bliss and enlightenment through meditation. Indonesia did seem to be about putting everything together and finding peace and balance.
I didn't like how she ended up with yet another man despite her so called quest to be alone and find self. I also kept thinking throughout the book, "OK, so what do you DO all day? What a waste of time!" I thought she should have devoted more time and effort to serving others or something to find true purpose and meaning in life. However, it was a fun read and made me grateful for a sense of grounding and purpose, while increasing my desire to connect more with other people....more
I don't know how he does it, but Michael Pollan makes the story of the food chain and diet fads a page-turner. This book is perfect for those who wantI don't know how he does it, but Michael Pollan makes the story of the food chain and diet fads a page-turner. This book is perfect for those who want to read the much longer Omnivore's Dilemma, but just can't seem to get through all that corn. I love how he sums up what we as omnivores should eat: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." It helped me resolve to be a better steward of my body and my family's health. We already avoid anything with HFCS or hydrogenated oil, but could do better about eating pastured meat products and lots more fruits and veggies. And it gave me an excuse for eating at some of my favorite places because high-quality and thereby more expensive food is better in the long run than "pile it high and sell it cheap" alternatives. As he says, "food is not a place to economize." Amen to that!...more
This is such an interesting story about the nonlinear nature of time. If I had a more scientific brain and understood such things, I would also considThis is such an interesting story about the nonlinear nature of time. If I had a more scientific brain and understood such things, I would also consider quantum physics and the whole space/time continuum thing. Since I don't, I thought it was a timeless, if unconventional, love story that also made me think about free will, cause and effect, destiny, and consequence. ...more
This book was so much better than I thought it would be. When I first picked it up, I thought, "huh? a beauty school in Afghanistan? Don't those poorThis book was so much better than I thought it would be. When I first picked it up, I thought, "huh? a beauty school in Afghanistan? Don't those poor people need water and electricity more than a mani/pedi?" I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author had a fabulous and unique story to tell in an interesting and well-written way. Like so many people who end up in the "development" world, she simply saw a need and set out to contribute what she could to improve people's lives. Throughout the book, she weaves her own story among the stories of her students and clients, enabling us to see how much a hairdresser from Michigan and a housewife in Afghanistan have in common, as well as the huge gulf that divides the two.
Trying to escape her own bad marriage and find her own power, the author joins a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan right after the fall of the Taliban. She finds herself in a group of doctors, nurses, and other trained professionals without much to contribute. She's asked to stay in the compound and pray for the others. This is not exactly part of her personality however, and she ends up exploring the streets of Kabul and getting the know people. Despite the language and cultural barrier, she quickly finds herself a part of the inner women's circle and understands what she can do to help--she will build a beauty school, give women a skill and the means to economic empowerment, and provide a service to women for whom the decadent services of a salon were acquired only in secret and hidden under the burqua.
The author has such a unique perspective as a member of the "inner" circle that other aid workers don't have access to. She creates her own "oasis" in the chaos for the women to gather and literally let their hair down. At times I could even forget they were in war-torn Afghanistan as she talked of parties and salon gossip and giggling. At other times I wanted to forget. The story is often sad. How could it not be? Her students and clients lived through decades of war and then the terror of the Taliban. Some of them continue to live in terror at home in a country which affords women no civil liberties or equanimity. As I read, I could hardly believe that I was reading about a place not 100 years ago, but right now. That there are places in the world where women are literally confined to their homes, traded and bartered in marriage, denied any economic or educational opportunity or freedom, beaten and abused with no recourse, and denied a sense of self-worth or destiny. The author gives them a place to gather and find companionship, a profession, and economic empowerment to start their own business. She tells how by making their own money, they begin to take responsibility for their lives and demand empowerment in other aspects of their lives. Like most well-intentioned humanitarian workers, she often commits cultural errors that threaten the viability of her project and the safety of her students. Yet she perseveres. She reminds us that we don't need education, wealth, or connections to truly change someone's life--we simply need passion and dedication to a cause and love for people. ...more
This book has a lot of good suggestions that will be more helpful as both my kids become more verbal. Even though it has a lot of "therapist-speak", wThis book has a lot of good suggestions that will be more helpful as both my kids become more verbal. Even though it has a lot of "therapist-speak", which I find personally annoying (I can see that you're feeling angry and would like to poke your little brother's eyes out. Tell more more about that...) I liked the cartoon strips with the "bad" example turned into the "good" example of how to respond in different situations. Of course, it's only as helpful as you actually remember to do the "right" thing. Perhaps the most important point for me to remember is to treat all my children as unique individuals, not to compare them or label them, or worry about "equal" time and treatment. ...more