Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer ***

Yep, I finally gave in and read the whole stinkin' series. I hadn't heard much about the last book, so I went in not sure of what would happen. I've got to say that Stephenie Meyer is great at writing for women--as my husband put it, her books for women are like Clint Eastwood movies for men.

I enjoyed the story up until the very end, when I was sorely disappointed. I'm not going to give anything away, but I think it just reminded me that these books weren't originally intended for an adult audience. I was looking for a lot of reality, but I'm not sure what I was thinking--these are vampire books we're talking about! Reality has nothing to do with it!

Overall, the series was a good read. I'm curious as to whether Meyer will be able to come up with a new series of books, or whether she'll take a chance on more adult literature. Either way, it will be interesting to see.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin ****

I found a flier at the library that listed all the "classic" literature they have on their shelves. I perused the list and decided to read the first one I could find on the shelves that I hadn't read before. Go Tell It on the Mountain was totally new to me, and reading this story of how the sins of our fathers quite literally can shape our own unwitting lives was fascinating.

John, the main character, cannot figure out why his father hates him so. He is obedient, helpful, and the apple of his mother's eye. But his father favors his brother Roy, despite Roy's wild ways. In the 1930's, at a store front church service on a Saturday night in Harlem, we get to see the prayers of all the elders in John's life--his aunt, his mother, and the man he calls his father. The truth of who he is and how the circumstances of his life--including being a young black man--will shape his future we, as readers, must guess at. But at the end of the night, when John is saved, we are left with the hope that he can rise above his father's hypocrisy.

The separate stories of the adults in the book and how they came together to make a whole picture was great. I got lost on the imagery of John's "possession" by the Holy Spirit and didn't get much out of that, but I did like the sense of hope we are left with in the end. Despite being black in America in the 1930's, I really got the feeling that John was going to be able to somehow rise above what was expected of him.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ******

Six stars. I don't have six stars on my rating system, so I know I'm breaking my own boundaries by giving a book six stars. But if ever a book was written that would break boundaries, it is this one.

I never read this book before, mostly because of my high school English teacher my junior year. He was a good teacher, though very anal. He didn't want any of us to "cheat" on the book list that year, so he assigned only books that had no Cliff Notes written for them. I was exposed to some great literature that year, most notably Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. It was a very eye opening year of reading for me. But I did miss something.

In a way, I'm thankful for that teacher. I don't know how I would have reacted to this book if I had read it as a teenager. It certainly would have been in a different way than I've reacted to it now. My first knee-jerk response as I started reading was that I had to have a daughter. There had to be a way, and I was going to have one. I wanted a girl like Scout.

But after looking at my life, and looking at our family, I came to the conclusion that we don't always get what we want. As an adult I've had to deal with this many times. I'm not going to be able to have an infant daughter that I give birth to myself. Just as Scout didn't get to have a mother.

And then I got to the summer of Boo in the book. Boo, who has withdrawn from all society because of the things he's been told, the small trouble he got into as a child. He is locked away. I thought of my son, who I'm doing everything in my power to encourage to be part of our society, despite how our society has treated people like my son in the past. It was then that it hit me: I don't have a daughter like Scout, but I have son like Boo. But my Boo, my darling Boo, will be seen. He will be heard. He will be a character in life because of his presence, not because of his absence.

Mistakes are made when raising children, it can't be helped. But if you are there for your child, that may be something that even I won't mess up.

"He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."