Monday, April 1, 2013

The Sister and Family Pictures (2 separate books!)

I am again behind in my blogging about books so I am attempting to catch up.  Bear with me.  I have read some good books!

I bought The Sister by Poppy Adams at the Edwardsville Public Library sale for fifty cents (hardback).  You can't hardly go wrong with that kind of deal!.

As the title implies, it is about a sister...Ginny's sister, Vivien.  Both of the sisters are spinsters.  Ginny had
remained at the family home with her parents all of her life.  Vivien had left the family home fifty years ago, and had never returned.  Ginny carried on her father's life work, that of studying moths (ok, kind of weird, I know).  Vivien went off and lived in the world.  Suddenly, Vivien sent word that she was coming stay.

The story is really about the past, and how the two sisters differ in their memories of the past.  Ginny had remained in the home and had always kept to herself, being reclusive.  Vivien's arrival shook up Ginny's peaceful existence, especially as Vivien began recalling issues from their past.   The story is told through Ginny's voice:

"The weekend that Vivien came home seems unreal now.  I'd still like to know why she came, and the other thing I'll never understand is why, throughout our lives, I'm the only one of my family who managed to pull through unscathed.  It's unnerving.  I've had to watch the lot of them first despair and then die.  I tried my hardest to help them, to hold them together, but the harder I tried the more they fell apart until, in the end, each one seemed to find their own way to self-destruct."

 This is a rather eerie, almost Gothic-type story.  Worth the read?  Yep.

Family Pictures by Sue Miller is another of the books on the list that my Mom left behind of books that she
wanted to read.  I usually like Ms. Miller's books; this one was a little less interesting than her others that I have read.  It is the story of the Eberhardt family, beginning in 1948.  Lainey and David Eberhardt are married and have two wonderful children, Liddie and Mack.  However, the picture of the family isn't as perfect as it seems and when Lainey becomes pregnant with their third child, the family's world begins to change forever.

The third child, Randall, was autistic and the stress of life with him tore at the family in many ways, subtle and not so subtle.   After Randall was born, three more children arrived: Nina, Mary and Sarah. The last three children were referred to by their father as "the extras".

"Certainly even then we thought of the family as neatly divided down the middle.  The first three, Macklin, Lydia, and Randall, were the special ones.  Even those names, we thought, showed greater imagination, greater involvement on our parents' part, than ours did: Nina, Mary, Sarah.  Clearly by that time they had run out of gas."
Though it is a rather long book, that in my opinion, could have been shorter, it does a good job and examining how the addition of a special needs child can affect every member of a family.

" And out of the blue I understood that the family photograph held the answer.  That it was really a portrait of a kind of reckless courage, a testament to the great loving carelessness at the heart of every family's life, even ours.  That each child represented such risk, such blind daring on its parents' part-such possibility for anguish and pain-that each one's existence was a kind of miracle."


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