Sunday, October 26, 2008

Heart In The Right Place

by Carolyn Jourdan

I hardly know where to begin. This is a beautiful story of a loving family and a very special community. It is a story of a woman who finds her truest self.

Carolyn Jourdan was a high profile attorney who worked on Capitol Hill. She drove a Mercedes, and had a high profile circle of friends. She knew all of the important people, and they knew her.

A family emergency sent her back to the hills of Tennessee, for a few days. It wasn't easy. She missed her place in DC from almost the first moment she was away. Her best friend was there. Her life and work were there. She was somebody there...or was she.

As the days and then weeks passed, far longer than she had expected or planned, Carolyn began to see things just a little differently. She had always wanted to help others, but had seen it more as a grand scheme. Helping many at one time. Making a difference . But is is more important to make a difference to many people at one time than it is to do so one by one. That was a conundrum she had trouble solving.

I loved each and every one of the people I met in this book. There were tears in my eyes more than once. A story filled with compassion, love and faith that will have a firm place on my small self of books that are to be read again and again.

Sarah's Key

by Tatiana de Rosnay

This is the Story of Sarah, a little girl who even when terrified herself, looks to protect her little brother.
Sarah was taken away from her home, and then from her parents when French police gathered Jewish families, to send them to their deaths simply for who they were.

This is the story of neighbors betraying neighbors. People who closed their hearts to the people they had known for years, for the reward of some cash in hand and perhaps their own safety.

This is a story of love and compassion. Heros in every day life who took it upon themselves to save little children. Particularly one family who took one such child to their hearts and into their family.

Sarah's Key tells the story of Julia. A woman who comes into her own when she too, stands up for a child and saves a life. It reminds us how fragile life is, and how many ways our own lives are entangled with the lives of others. It begins in 1942 in France, and ends more than sixty years later . It is a story of horror and death, It is a story of love and life and joy.

I was invested in the characters from page one. By the time I closed this book, they were friends that I will miss, but will visit again. I will recommend this book to others, many others. This is a book that I will give as a gift, share with my children and friends.

Tatiana de Rosnay has a way with words that is rarely found these days. Mere words become a story well told, and told with a delicate touch. I look forward to whatever she offers us next, and thank her for this tale well told.

Marcello in the Real World

by Francisco Stork

I considered saying that this is a wonderful book about a young man with disabilities. But that wouldn't be quite correct. Marcello does indeed see the world differently, but would I call it a disability? Not for Marcello.

I thought about saying that this is a coming of age story. That is true, almost. Marcello does indeed find the strength within himself to see the world differently. In all of its ugliness and sad reality. So in this way, I guess he did go through a coming of age period, or at least began to find the strength he will need to make a place for himself.

This is the story of an extraordinary young man. A teenager who sees things differently, and thinks about what it is he sees. Really thinks. And finds understanding. He grows up in a family where he is embraced by his mother and sister for who he is, and who he can be. He is taught in an environment where there is no judgment, just unconditional acceptance. When the time comes for him to be tested, these all serve him well in finding his strength, his place in the world, his happiness and perhaps his love.

Marcello drew me in immediately. He and his family mattered to me. I so wanted him to be more than fiction, and I am sure that somewhere, he is. Marcello in the Real World is a wonderful book. I read it in one long session, because i couldn't make myself leave. I had to know how he faired. I couldn't step away before reaching the end of his story. But as with all good stories, there is no ending here. It is all about beginnings.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Enslaved by Ducks and Fowl Weather

By Bob Tarte

This was an entertaining read. Enslaved by Ducks is the first of two books telling the story of Bob Tarte, His wife and family of pets. The author tells of being a young man who was completely disinterested in the animal kingdom to someone who has learned the joys of life with pets after being dragged kicking and screaming into this knowledge by his wife Linda. Linda is a unique individual whose empathy with animals is legendary.

Their story is told by Bob himself in such a humorous and entertaining way that fifty pages into this book I had purchased the next one, Fowl Weather.

Bob Tarte's second book about his life with ducks, ( cats, parrots, bunnies and more) was just as compelling as the first. I enjoyed learning more about his wife Linda and his best friend Bob. This book was a little more about finding his way in in the world while in the throes of depression after losing his father and more members of his animal kingdom.
He appears more vulnerable and unsure, but never fails to have his life brightened and gilded by Linda and his pet family.

Those of us who have grappled with depression can find many ways to connect with his feelings, and the occasional feeling that his life was whirling out of control. He is more fortunate than some, with a good support system of family and friends.

Both of these books will make you laugh out loud, and shed a tear. I know that they did that for me.

I chose to review these two books together as I read them back to back, as the should be read I think. They are great stand alone reads but much better together. I am hoping for book three

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Walking Through Walls

by Philip Smith

I looked forward to this book after reading the description on Amazon. It sounded charming and
funny. I looked for it to be an entertaining read. I found myself at the end of the book and still not caring about any of the family members.

As it happens I am a believer in energy healing and many things mentioned here in the book. It seemed to me that more often than not such things were made to look ridiculous. The family was composed of the oft confused Philip, who grew up to be rather self centered and spoiled. His mom who tottered through her days on high heels with her head in the clouds, pretending to be someone she was not. Dad seemed to have most of the redeeming qualities although it was he who was most often made to look silly, and frankly, he often was.

Sometimes a book can be redeemed by its underlying tone. The tone of Walking Through Walls seemed a little whiney to me. I am sure that this family was in reality much nicer than this book made them seem. I dislike giving books a review that isn't positive, and so I try to find at least one positive thing about these reads.
With this book, I am sure that there are those who will find it more entertaining than I did. It was nowhere near as depressing or shocking as Running With Scissors. It just turned out to be much like the oft mentioned brown rice. Rather dull.