The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd- Book Review

wings

Ever since I was a young girl and I read about the Underground Railroad, I have been interested in the history of slavery. It has dictated a lot of my reading and studying. It pains my soul, hurts to read and makes breathing difficult. But it happened. And it is something that we owe the people who had to bear the pain to learn about.

I was grateful that a co-worker lent me this book, one that I had known nothing about and that had not been on my radar. It is an excellent novel, full of immense history about slavery and women’s rights. It is complex, deep and difficult.

The novel goes back and forth between Sarah, a rich Southern belle who has never wanted to life she has been given adn Hetty, a slave her own age who was given to her for her eleven birthday. Sarah never wanted a slave, but she has no right to not have her. In her own way she rebels against her family by teaching Hetty to read. The novel spans back and forth between the lives of these two women, both struggling against their positions in life.

Sarah and her sister Angelina, are real women, women who are among the first women abolitionists, as well as the first women to speak out in public forums and struggle for women’s rights.

Sue Monk Kidd has researched and imagined a wonderful, rich, heartbreaking novel for them to live in and it is well worth the read.

“Playing with Matches” Book Review

Playing with Matches is written by Suri Rosen, published by ECW Press, September 2014, 248 pages

In Playing with Matches I expected to find a typical YA novel. What I received was so much more; a novel deep in mystery, humour, kindness and mysticism. Based in Toronto, via way of New York, Raina Resnick is a 16-year-old who has fallen off her own personal path. Something every teenager can relate to in some way or another. But Rain has a lot of other things going on too. Her parents are in Hong Kong, so she has been sent to live with her strict aunt in Toronto. Her older sister Leah ends up in Toronto too, as her wedding was recently cancelled by the groom. Yet Leah blames a lot of her problems on Raina and is not speaking to her. And if that is not enough, Raina was kicked out of her previous school and is finding it not so easy to forget about her earlier misdeeds.

Playing with Matches has many layers and always kept me guessing throughout the entire story. It is real yet hopeful, cute yet quirky and light yet meaningful. I also learned a lot about the Orthodox Jewish Community, which is something that I honestly did not know that much about. I always find it very interesting to step deep into another culture and learn about something you might not have known about before. Reading something like this opens your mind a little. I learned that the Orthodox Jewish Community still uses matchmakers to set up fulfilling life long marriages and Raina accidentally finds herself in this role. And it might just be the first thing she is good at in a long time! Can she keep it secret and make more successful matches? And most importantly can she make Leah a good match and allow her sister be happy again?

This novel has a wide range of interesting characters, from Bubby, the getting into trouble grandmother, to the kind-hearted professor lonely for companionship. Raina learns about herself and explores these people with kindness.  The lesson might be everyone deserves to be happy.

I am surprised to learn that this is Rosen’s first novel, as the depth of the characters is intense and the story is fast moving. I was laughing out loud and I had a hard time putting the book down. I would recommend the book to anyone, young or old, it is a fun paced romp with a lot of heart.

playing with matches

Discipline

Discipline

I lecture the students,
about having discipline.

How important it is.

Making a schedule and treating your body like
a
temple.
A
damn
place of worship.

I am good for a few days,
before I fall off the dock of sainthood,
wondering how I even stayed on it so long.

But I will slam my fist against the table, saying disipline is an important thing to have in life.

Discipline. The two faced-creature.

 

“Interference” by Michelle Berry Book Review

Interference is published by ECW Press in Canada. 277 pages, $18.95

This is the kind of book that me me sad when the book ended, I wanted to know more about the characters, more about their messed up little, lonely lives. The writing gripped me and fascinated me the whole way through.

But I suppose that is the way the world works, we catch a glimpse into someone’s life, and then we lose them. We forgot to make the call, we let things slip by and then you catch yourself wondering just how they might be doing, but far too much time has gone by to do anything about it.

Interference is like taking a glimpse into the underbelly of one particular neighbourhood in Ontario, which could very well be any neighbourhood  in the suburbs, in Canada. Characters and stories intermingle and we get a telescopic view into mindsets of these people. Berry does a good job of moving between characters but not losing the story.

Interference has got something for everyone; the quiet teenager angry at life and his moms’ cancer, the runaway from a bad marriage with her young daughter in tow, the scar faced man who has never felt understood and the ladies trying to learn to skate for the ladies hockey league. All silently moving through life and seasons. All intermingling and inter-crossing in amazing yet lonely ways. Lonely in that they never really connect the way you want them to. You want to push the character and tell them to tell the others how they are feeling, how things really are going. Because then perhaps they would not be so damn lonely.

One of the unusual features is handwritten letters, typed emails and notes from the principle peppered through the novel. I liked that, it makes everything seem so real.

I love the pointed, conversational way that it is written and how the characters are so real and understandable. I immediately connected to Tom and Claire and Becky, the self-doubt, mind-racing thoughts constantly rolling through their head. The way that you can see into the characters’ heads in this very unique way is my favourite thing about Berry’s writing. You feel like you actually get to take a look into an odd suburb, a neighbourhood that you always drive by has the windows and doors wide open.

interference

 

Excellent book 4.5/5 stars

 

Restlessness

The restlessness of stagnation
is creeping under my bones.
Not moving,

one place.

Buildup,
will come,
from not moving enough.

On your head,
flaking,
under your bones,
creaking.

On your brain, seeping.

into your cells.

Being in one place.
I can try to imagine the brightness of the new,
but instead I just turn the corner
and notice the blue house,
is
the exact
same.

My limbs feel like molasses.

Sticky, unable to move.

Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti- Book Review

Based on a True Story is a great read for the summer!
It is saucy, fast moving and Augusta is the sort of character that is easier to take while you are sitting on the side of a lake.
That is because Augusta is so easy to hate. She is selfish, washed up, mean, rude, in your face, and a bit of  a drunk. But underneath all this, you are almost rooting for her to win,
even just a little, the whole time. Because there is just something about a character who is such a mess isn’t there?

This book really raised a lot of issues with me, with society in general, which in not something that I excepted.  Is everyone meant to be a mother? And those of us who aren’t, should we feel like it is something we have to do? And if we do have a child, must we step up and change who we are?

This novel is centered around Augusta, a washed up, English, middle-aged actress, someone who always has trouble with alcohol and drugs. She has left behind a partner who was always good to her, Ken, who I have a hard time understanding why she hates so much, and a son, Charles. She has been struggling to find a role to get her back onto the screen and stay sober long enough to remember to show up. She has also released a book with the help of a ghost writer that has put her back in the glimmer of the spotlight. Enter Frances Bleeker, a displaced Californian, who has been sent by her boss to write an article about Augusta’s book for the tabloid she works at. Frances sure is not the most secure creature, and together her and Augusta mix like oil and water. One floating on top, the other one barely noticeable.

Augusta has heard a rumour that her ex-lover,  Ken is writing a book about love. And she sure does not want her name in it. Ken lives in California now, not cloudy England but Augusta still can’t let him tarnish her (ahem) good name. So, she enlists the help of Frances, now; out of a job, and out of luck to accompany her to California.

And off they go, on their often very rocky adventure.

So settle in, buckle your seat belt and take off on a bumpy ride. The book is daring, the cover is pink, but most things never turn out perfect, so don’t make an assumption and take this book too lightly. You shouldn’t. It has got some serious punch.

based on a true story

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra- Book Review!

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

 

How much do you know about Chechnya? And the wars, and the occupation and the exiles? If you are like me, probably not very much.
And sometimes not knowing very much about something leads us to shy away from it. It might be too much work for our lowly brains.
But I want to stop using that as an excuse,
“I don’t know anything about money, so how can I make a budget?”
“I can’t shut down my brain, so how can I learn to mediate?”
Just because things are challenging does not mean that they are not worth it.
And I believe this book is worth it.
It is challenging,
tough,
raw,
and full of anguish.
But it exists. These people in some form exist.
All of these things exist in real life, and this story is based on true conflicts.

And it makes me grateful everyday to be born in Canada.

But what is anything besides a random constellation of anguish and joy?

This is the story of many characters intersecting and coming to find each other. We start with Havaa, an eight-year-old girl who watches Russian soldiers burn her house and take her father. The only people left now are her neighours, Akhmed and Khassan. Akhmed wants to keep her safe, so he takes her to the hospital, the safest place, he, a failed doctor can think of. Here we meet Sonja, the sole surgeon remaining, and her haunted thoughts about her missing sister, Natasha. All of the characters come together and interweave so beautifully, so randomly,as such is life.

I found at beginning of the book I was having trouble getting into it, but then after about a hundred pages, I fell and I fell hard. You began to really love the characters and want to know how they all got to the situations they are in. The book is like a beautiful, mysterious heartbreaking puzzle, that you just can’t wait to find out how all the pieces get together.

This book is told in a very interesting perspective, jumping from the past, to the present to the very far future. I liked this about it, it shows what happens to the characters far down the line and that makes for an interesting telling, certainty, no unanswered questions.

It gives hope in a hopeless world, even if sometimes the world you live in seems to contain no hope.

 

Wondrous.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 95 other followers