Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quite a variety

Yes, I have another backlog of books to blog about.  I swear my life seems to get busier and busier.  I am reading more and more, which is a plus.  I finally broke down and joined the electronic book world with the purchase of a Kindle.  I have been quite quiet about it...there seems to have been some shame involved on my part, but I have to admit, I really do like it.  I am not convinced that it will ever take the place of holding a good book in my hand, but for traveling (of which I do quite a bit even if it is weekends visiting my kids) it is wonderful!  And it is very easy to use and easy to read with, so I am pleased with it.  I am reading a book on it right now and am leaving on a trip to Cancun in a couple of weeks, so I will load a couple of books on it for that trip!

The two books that I have read for my book groups are Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, and Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.  I had just read Mudbound last summer, but read it again for my book group.  Again, a great book!  (my review of it was in my blog on 14 July 2011)  The book group really liked it and we had wonderful discussion...I highly recommend it!

I had read Fall On Your Knees about 13-14 years ago, and remembered that I had really liked it, so I was pleased that it was chosen for our book group.  It's a long book (508 pages) and very dark and disturbing with themes of secrets, incest, rape, abuse, etc.  However, Ms. MacDonald's writing is beautiful and I found quite easy to read, although the book has to be read fairly slowly in order to catch all that is happening in the story.

It is a story about the Piper family who live on Cape Breton Island (which is off of Nova Scotia).  There are four girls in the family, each with their own darkness chasing after them.  To say that the parents were dysfunctional is meaningless, because their characters went so far beyond just dysfunction.  The father of the family, James Piper, seems to be the catalyst for all that happens in the book.  Needless to say, he is not a likable character.  However, each of the girls are quite interesting, each in their own way.  They each found their individual ways of survival and some of the book is quite funny.

This book group did not like the book.  They found it disturbing and difficult to read.  Several did not finish it.  I don't know what this says about my taste in books, but I really liked it!  I like books that have lots of character development and this one does!

Next I read The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley.  I had never read any of his work, but I will be reading more of it...I loved this book!

Ptolemy is a 91 year old man, suffering from dementia and loneliness.  He lives in a small apartment by himself and has a nephew who comes by to look in on him and help him out with errands. When Reggie suddenly doesn't come by anymore, a friend of Reggie's family, 17 year old Robyn, begins helping out with Ptolemy, cleaning his (incredibly) filthy apartment, grocery shopping, etc. Ptolemy volunteers for an experimental medical program that will shorten his life, but will bring back his sharp mind for the time that he does have left to live. He investigates the mystery of his nephew's death and decides to take justice into his own hands, feeling that it is up to him to take care of the family he has left.  Through-out the book, Ptolemy remembers wisdom spoken to him by his childhood mentor Coydog McCann, who was murdered.

It is a fascinating, and moving book.  The difficulties and struggles of aging are very touchingly narrated and Ptolemy is a very likable character.  Great book!

Lastly, I finished The Gift of Peace by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.  Cardinal Bernardin wrote this book during the last two months of his life, telling the story of the last three years of his life, including the false accusation of sexual misconduct and his diagnosis of cancer.  It is a very simple and moving book; I did not find it sad at all, but very uplifting.  Cardinal Bernardin's faith is inspirational and the work that he did for others is even more inspirational. This is not really a book about dying.  It is more about living.  His sharing about his difficulty with prayer at times is so easy for others to relate to. He was a great man and through this little book, he will continue to touch others for many, many years. (Joseph Cardinal Bernardin died in 1996)