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Reading wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

    Reading Wednesday

    From time to time I have moments that catch my breath when I think of a few near death experiences I have had in my life. The four moments that occasionally remind me of how lucky I am to still be kicking around. Three of these occurred in a car and one on a horse – inches and seconds from disaster.

    In her memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, O’Farrell looks back on her own life where she can count 17 separate incidents of stepping too close to her own death. Several instances the reader can easily relate to, while others seem unfathomable to most of us.

    But the part of the book that caught me somewhat off guard was the story of O’Farrell’s adult life struggle to keep her own daughter alive. A day to day process that involves constant monitoring of every item her daughter eats, breaths, touches…as O’Farrell and her family deal with a child with severe immune-system disorder.

    This is the first time I have read O’Farrell’s work although she has numerous memoirs and novels. I enjoyed this story dispite it’s sometimes gut-wrenching detail.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Read last week’s review of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Burmese Days by George Orwell

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This book kept popping up at shops around Myanmar while I was visiting there last month. I had read Orwell in high school (1984 and Animal Farm) but never any more. But I picked up this paperback and decided to check it out.

    First of all it was clearly a pirated book. Although the cover looked like a Penguin Classic Book, the inside was printed poorly on cheap paper and within the first few chapters it began to fall apart. Oh well, I just kept trying to hold the book together.

    Written in 1934 the book is a fictional tale of the waning days of the British Colonial period in Burma (now Myanmar). This is a time when Burma was ruled by Britian from Delhi as part of British India.

    Orwell himself spent time in Burma, so the book (his first) is based on his first hand experience there.

    The book uses serious racist language that today is completely frowned upon, and reflects the true superior British societal approach to the people of Burma. The debasing effect the empire had on the native people of the time is frankly, disgusting.

    But I’m glad I read it. Even though Britian eventually revoked it’s colonial rights through out the region as well as in other regions, the deep scar Britian left is still today part of life in Myanmar and in other countries like India. Colonialism was and is a blight on people of the world and Burmese Days spells it out in a sad and honest tale of the people who were there.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for Burmese Days. Read last week’s review of Remarkable Creatures.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Remarkable Creatures: A Novel by Tracy Chevalier

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Oh I enjoyed this book so much. When I saw this book by Tracy Chevalier, author of The Girl With The Pearl Earring, I knew I would love it – I loved The Girl With The Pearl Earring.

    So I was kind of surprised I had never heard of this book. But I am glad to have found it. It’s just the kind of story I love; history, science and strong-willed women from an era of female suppression.

    Set in England in the early 1800’s a time where females had no rights, and without a husband, basically no life. Here Chevalier takes real people from the past and combines them with intriguing fictional characters to create a wonderful voyage of discovery in Remarkable Creatures.

    The name of this book refers both to our two herions and the discoveries they make.

    Mary Anning a real person from Lyme England is one of the early discoverers of fossils. Despite her lack of education or status, her work will lead to the scientific advances on dinosaurs and extinction. Mary will not however, get credit for most of her work since she is “just a female”.

    Chevalier creates fictional Elizabeth Philpot, a spinster with a broad mind and interest in fossils. Newly arrived to Lyme she befriends Mary Anning and they begin an unlikely relationship. Part envy, part loyalty, and part mutual appreciation the two women will use each others strengths to trail blaze the science, navigate the prickly issue of female rights, and help each other through love and loss.

    A fascinating book with just enough science as well as a beautiful love story and test of true friendship.

    Five Stars for Remarkable Creatures. Read last week’s review of About the Night.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review About the Night by Anat Talshir

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This was a lovely and unexpected book. This is a book I have meaning to get to for months, one of the free books I received on International Book Day from Amazon. Written by a distinguished Israeli Journalist, the story is dazzling.

    I will be visiting Israel in March for the first time and this book helped me understand the turmoil and joy, tragedy and euphoria, ancient history and current events that the tiny country of Israel has endured.

    Told in the voice of Elias, a Christian Arab in the end of his life. He looks back on the greatest love, his love for Lia, a Jew. Their forbidden love brings great passion and deep sorrow as they maneuver the years between 1947 and 2006. Told with a deeply moving voice, the author is a talented story teller and character developer.

    This is both a beautiful love story and a history lesson. I enjoyed it very much.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for About the Night by Anat Talshir.

    Read last week’s review of Behold the Dreamers.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Mbue, an immigrant from Limbe Cameroon, weaves a fictional tale of immigrants like herself, who make their way from Cameroon in search of the American Dream in New York. My book review Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is fiction but a near to true story of the hardship of immigrants in the USA.

    Both a love story and an American tragedy, Behold the Dreamers brings to life the incredible characters of Jenda Jonga and his wife Neni and their sweet and small children. The Jonga family has worked for years to make their way to New York City, land of dreams and opportunity.

    We are introduced to the Edward’s family. Husband Clark and wife Cindy with children Vince and Mighty. Clark is a high powered financial investor with the ill-fated Lehman Brothers. Cindy a New York socialite hiding and running from her past.

    These two families will collide in a sad but believable look at how two very different families navigate the financial collapse of 2008, the nearly impossible American immigration system as well as the challenges of race, class, substance abuse and marriage in America.

    A remarkable debut novel for Imbolo Mbue. Five stars for Behold the Dreamers.

    Read last week’s review of The Glass Castle

    Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I found this true story very similar to Tara Westover’s “Educated”. A deep and disturbing look at how children survive growing up in dysfunctional, often violent, and deeply impoverished family.

    Tracing Jeannette Walls climb out of poverty and neglect to her life today as a successful writer and contributor for the likes of Esquire and MSNBC. The Glass Castle is an astonishing look at an all to common and oft ignored American tragedy of childhood neglect.

    Jeannette Walls and her three siblings are raised by a brilliant father who is also a raging alcoholic. Her free-spirited mother has little interest in domestic life, leaves her children to fend for themselves, even when she has the financial opportunity to provide and pull them out of despair and poverty.

    The Walls children are forced to learn to take care of themselves and each other, nearly starving or freezing to death in the cold winters.

    Eventually making her way to New York, getting an education and a good job, Jeannette finds it impossible to talk about her upbringing or the fact that her parents are living homeless on the streets of New York. She is ashamed of them and the way they live. Until she is encouraged by those closest to her, to tell this real life story of surviving neglect and despair, even while still loving her parents.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Read last week’s review of My Sister’s Keeper.

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    The Glass Castle by Jodi Picoult
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I’m not a huge fan of Jodi Picoult. I’ve read a few of her novels, and her work reminds me of Lianne Moriarty and Anitia Shreve and probably some others I can’t think of. I have a personal bias, probably not justified, but there it is. The bias for me is how MANY books they pump out. Book after book after book. Wow. Like a machine.

    Alas I know though how loved these authors and others like them are for their easy reading and usually heartfelt characters and plots. And in Picoult’s case, often focused on topics torn from today’s news.

    So it is with My Sister’s Keeper, a paperback I found and enjoyed at our Airbnb on the island of Langkawi.

    My Sister’s Keeper brings us a family in turmoil. A family who has dealt with their daughters leukemia for a decade. A family who chose to have another baby – a genetically designed baby – to provide umbilical cord cells to the other sick daughter.

    When Anna is born, she is loved by her parents, but her entire life is spent trying to save their first daughter Kate. At age 13, Anna decides she has given enough of herself; cells, blood, and bone marrow and she makes the excruciating decision to say “no more”.

    This is a story of ethics, parenting, cancer and family. This is a story that no parent ever wants to find themselves in. Is one child’s life more important than another? How will the collision of genetics, ethics and rights of a child conclude?

    This book kept my attention and I felt sorry for all concerned in this story, but to be honest I hated the ending. I really hated it. I thought it was all too convenient the way it wrapped up, and would much rather have seen it end in a different, more expected way with less drama and tragedy.

    You will have to decide for yourself.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Read last week’s review of Elsewhere.

    My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult