Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This book was amazing. It's an autobiography of Jeanette Walls' life living in what I would call beyond a dysfunctional family.  It's hard to believe that these 3 children survived to adulthood. Living in the Arizona desert - and I mean the desert, they had no home. Then moving to Carolina and living with her father's family, which was worse than their subsequent move into a hovel of a house with no electricity, no heat, no running water. 

I couldn't believe the situation these children lived in, and yet they came out okay. Maybe something in their natural wish to survive lifted them as adults into a healthier place and a better life. 

Very good book.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This book was and International Bestseller, which can easily be believed. It's an eyeopener to how different cultures operate. Rarely is a baby killed in North America, and even though I'm naive I can't believe that a baby would be killed due to it's sex. But in some cultures to have a girl child is a burden. Where people are beyond poor they need sons to help them operate what little land they have and when a daughter grows older it is necessary that she be married off so she won't be a financial burden and because with marriage comes a dowry which is badly needed.

After losing her first daughter, Kavita can't bear the thought of her newborn second daughter being taken from her by death. And so she walks all night to place her in an orphage. When she returns she tells her husband that the baby died in the night.

Kavita goes on to give birth to a son but she is never able to shut out thoughts of her daughter. Life in the countryside gets worse and the husband convinces Kavita that a move to the city would be good for them. Many people have thought that to move to Mumbai is the answer to all of their needs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their life there, their son's life there, is worse than if they had stayed poor farmers in their original home.

The baby, Asha, is adopted by a family in America. The father is Indian, the mother American. She's  a good student, studying jounalism, and eventually gets a Fellowship to do a study on the poor children on the outskirts of Mumbai.  This gives her the first chance to meet her adoptive father's family and to learn more of her own culture.

She has always wanted to know about her family of origin and is able to find the orphanage and the name of her biological family and actually finds where they live. She visits but they are not home. She leaves a note telling them that she was there. She never does return but Kavita is given the knowledge that what she did was right for her daughter.

This book is very heartwarming. I really recommend it.                            

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

I started to read this book yesterday morning and was finished by this afternoon. It was, to me and I'm sure to anyone who reads it, absolutely shocking and a real wakeup call. It's fiction and yet it is probably what happened to more than a few Jewish children during the Paris roundup on July 16, 1942. And in other events during the reign of terror.

Writing about one particular child made it so much more real. I have never been able to comprehend what happened. I see pictures and I hear stories and yet my mind won't let me see it as real.  I think part of why I was unable to put the book down was that it was about one human being, what she was feeling and experiencing. 

An American journalist is given a job researching the Roundup on the 60th anniversary. She had never heard of it and the research, and Sarah in particular, became an obsession to her. There was a secret tie in with her husband's family, a french family who had rented the apartment Sarah and her parents had been taken from during the roundup. Now her husband was renovating the same apartment that had been in his family since 1942.

I never know how much to say because I don't want to give away the story but I will say that this is a must read, especially for the younger generation. We need to teach our children/grandchildren what happened to ensure that it never happens again. 

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

My goodness, my last post was September 3rd? I've gone through a lot of books since then. I'll see if I can remember them all. 

I picked up The Forgotten Garden because I overheard a couple of women talking about it by the book rack in our pharmacy. I'm as much a sucker for books as kids are for candy that's sitting just at their heights in the checkout stands. I picked up the book to look at the back and the minute I saw that it takes place in Cornwall, England I had to have it - being Cornish myself. It's fiction, of course, but I rely on the writers to describe what the places are like as well. 

I loved this book. It spanned 4 generations basically. The main character was told at 21 years old that she'd Been found by the dock master sitting all by herself with no one claiming her. He took her home with him, not wanting to leave her alone in a strange country (Australia) and she was eventually just adopted by the family. 

As a middle age woman she went looking into the mystery of who she was. She got some answers and bought a cottage overlooking the sea that tied into her mystery. She never did solve the mystery of who she really was before she died but her grand daughter took up where she had left off and the mystery was eventually solved. And what a convoluted story. I was almost at the end of the book before I realized what had happened. It's one of those books where you keep guessing but then eventually that theory goes out the window by something that happens in the plot. 

It was very interesting, fun to read and an easy read. I haven't read any more of her books. She has three others out.