Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Before We Visit the Goddess

Sabitri is the daughter of a poor baker in rural India. As luck would have it a wealthy woman takes her under her wing and into her home. She provides her with tuition to attend school in exchange for some house duties. Sabitri secretly begins a romance with the woman’s son and since that would be unforgivable Sabitri is immediately kicked to the street and the boy sent far away. Saddened, she later falls for the teacher who comforts her and takes her under his wing. Many years later, she is wiser but has instilled much of her fear and anxiety in her own daughter Bela. When Bela is grown she too flees with an unlikely partner. Life is not at all what she envisioned and subsequently her daughter Tara suffers in the same sad way. I love the sensitive mother daughter relationships that sweep across generations and cultures. As vastly different as our lives may be between countries and ages, we all fear and swear we will not turn into our mother’s. Mistakes will not be repeated. And human nature plays a funny trick on us and does it anyway. I happen to be a huge fan of family stories from the Indian culture. This was a solid good. It was somewhat predictable but most of them are. I think what stops it from being more than good is that I just didn’t “love” any of the characters.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This is Not the Abby Show

Abby thinks her English teacher is the meanest and worst teacher in the whole middle school and in the entire world. He is ruining her life! When Abby fails English class she has to go to summer school. She does not get to go to Theater camp. She is grounded and she mistakenly has TNTRML (The Night That Ruined My Life!) Now she has lost her spot in camp to Caitlin, lost her boy crush Brett and has to sit with a group of complete dorks for the entire summer studying Shakespeare.

Abby has ADHD and it’s hard for her to sit still. It’s hard for her to be quiet. She has this uncontrollable habit of saying whatever pops into her head, funny or not. Most of Abby’s energies are channeled into theater and sports. When her medication works well, she excels at most subjects and gets through her day with only a few lost homework’s, missing pencils and forgotten tests. But Abby is tired of apologizing every single day. A lot of her foot tapping and shouting out in class is truly not her fault. But it is her doing and Abby needs to learn some management skills so that she can shine like the talented star she was meant to be.

With laugh out loud humor, sensitive friendship issues and even the beginning of her first real “like,” This is Not the Abby Show is as entertaining as it is educational. No matter our age, we are all subject to scrutiny of friends, neighbors or coworkers for being different. Acceptance= kindness and without it we are a melting pot that is boiling over. You don’t have to be in 7th grade to appreciate the lessons in this beautiful, enjoyable story. Family sticks together. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you criticize. There are different ways to learn. And most importantly, everyone deserves a second chance.

I highly recommend this incredible new book by talented author Debbie Reed Fischer. The description says this is for ages 9-12. I say it’s more like 5-100. Your kids can read this. You can read this to or with your kids. And if you are a mom, a dad, an aunt, a big brother, a grandparent, a teacher or a friend to anyone then this is for you too. A life lesson to be reminded how we are all in this together.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Girls in the Garden

There is a hidden park in the middle of London, in the center of a small private community. It is an oasis for children and some families have lived there for generations. A new family has moved into a small flat. The mom is named Clare with two young daughter Pip and Grace. They are on the cusp of teenhood and the “gang” or cliques that run through the garden include them in their fun and games right from the start. The Howes family are the beautiful people; with 3 daughters they homeschool and one of the biggest houses in the community. Clare’s daughters are instantly intrigued by their warmth and hospitality, as they are missing their father very much. There is a fine line between beauty and terror in this park that is both inviting and intriguing. Even in this idyllic setting there lies a history of events, some better left unsaid. But as summertime approaches, the days are longer and the girls seem to disappear more and more into this little world. Something is happening and Clare tries her best to keep them away from what she can’t quite name. Though she puts forth her best efforts there is no stopping this emotional rollercoaster they all find themselves on. Who did what to whom in this suspenseful figure out UNPUTDOWNABLE novel. Incredible author Lisa Jewell once again captures the reader into the lives of these characters from the very first chapter. This novel was the perfect beach read to take you away. I was in London, in the park with the girls, looking for clues. LOVED this #summerread2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Modern Lovers

It suddenly was very cool to live in Brooklyn. After finishing Oberlin it would’ve been a dream to live in NYC but their budgets were tight in the eighties. When Zoe’s disco LA parents invested in a big old house on the outskirts of town, Elizabeth and Andrew jumped at the chance to all live together once again. And it is on this street that their lives spiraled forward into the future they could have never imagined. In college this crew were a hip band playing all the parties but as years flew by they simmered down to the reality of just playing grown-ups. Elizabeth and Andrew married young, moved down the street and were raising their son, Harry. She focused on her career as a realtor with the patience of a saint, while Andrew focused really really hard on trying to find himself. Having come from a childhood of wealth, he now preferred the bohemian lifestyle (with the money in the bank as a back-up, of course.) Zoe married Jane, the one who lasted more than six months and they were busily running a neighborhood restaurant and raising their gorgeous daughter Ruby. What a fun adventure to follow these vivid, humorous, playful characters through the motions as they try to figure out where the years have gone. How did they actually have teenagers who were smoking, having wild sex and preparing to leave home. How did they, the cool ones, become the parents with rules and restrictions. They had a hit song! They were once the “it” crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this fabulous beach read, another hit by author @emmastraub! So much fun to get lost in the world of Modern Lovers and simultaneously reflect. How can my kids be starting college, when I just graduated … like yesterday?