Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Glass Castle

"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

This book will astound and amaze you.  It is a memoir about the authors childhood.  She had a drunk father and a mother who didn't want the responsibility of raising children.  They were always moving from place to place, as her father could never hold down a job.  He was not an abusive or mean drunk but he could never provide consistently for his family.  The children learned to fend for themselves, often went hungry and helped each other.  The circumstances that were endured were crazy but this family still stuck together.  The oldest sister ended up in New York and soon the other three followed.  The children were able to build their lives.  Their parents eventually followed them there and even though their children tried to help they preferred to be homeless.  This is a very eccentric family and very resourceful.  The children were determined to get out of the situation they grew up in and make better lives for themselves.  They didn't let where they came from stop them from their future.  This truly is an astounding book.  A very good read.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Kitchen House

"The Kitchen House" by Kathleen Grissom

This was a great book.  A really intense book but so, so good.  Once again I couldn't put it down.  It is about an orphaned Irish girl who becomes a slave.  She finds her "family" in the black slaves who also serve the household.  She is young and does not see the color of her skin as different from the other slaves but they know one day she will be the one in the big house.  The story is told from two viewpoints, Lavinia the Irish girl and Belle, a black slave.  The book really brings you into the story and leaves you sad at all the wrong done to slaves, appalled at the secrets in families and proud of those that stood with kindness no matter skin color.  "What the color is, who the daddy be, who the mama is don't mean nothin'.  We a family, carin' for each other.  Family make us strong in times of trouble.  We all stick together, help each other out.  That the real meanin' of family."  We are all family, all attached to one another in some way.  We all can help each other, doesn't matter where we came from, where we are going or what we look like, we are called to help others.  This book shows that clearly.  It was a heartbreakingly good book.  I'm always astounded that slavery is a part of America's history, it grieves me.  And I know forms of it still exist today.  God weeps for those that others call outcasts and He loves them just as much.  May we right the wrongs that have been done.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Flickering Light and An Absence So Great

"A Flickering Light" and "An Absence So Great" by Jane Kirkpatrick

Honestly, these weren't the best books or even great books.  After I read the first I wasn't sure I was going to read the second but I did.  The first book is about a girl named Jessie who loves photography.  She gets a job in a studio, 1907, and proves that a woman can make her way in the mans profession.  But she has a hard time controlling her passionate emotions when it comes to her married boss.  I think that I just didn't like the premise of this story.  But there is struggle with right and wrong and letting God lead.  "Faith, hope and love are the three eternities.  To look up and not down, that is Faith; to look forward and not back, that is Hope; and then to look out and not in, that is Love."  None of these are easy but I like the simplicity of the statement.  Looking up to God and not our circumstances, is having faith.  Being able to put the past behind and press on is having hope.  And serving others and looking to others interest is love in its purest form.  "Kindness and compassion, sturdiness in a storm.  These are the qualities that truly marked a man."  I love the "sturdiness in a storm".  That is what husbands should be to their wives, the one place you can count on for peace when the rest of the world is swirling around you.
The second book Jessie has gained confidence in her photography skills and moves from home to help other photographers in their studios.  She hope to put her romantic feelings behind her and pursue her dream.  But it seems no matter how far she travels she can not forget her forbidden love.  I did not like the way that this book ended.  I'm not even sure I would recommend these books.  The one thing I did like was the way Jessie pursued her dream even when she was told it was not a woman's place.  She never let anyone deter her from her passion no matter how hard the road.  "Suzanne was bound by the desire all have when faced with grave emptiness: the yearning to keep the old routines, hoping they might wash away despair.  And yet they couldn't because something-everything-had changed."  When someone we love is taken from our lives we want to keep the same routine to nothing will change but like this says, everything has changed and so we must change with it.  "Memories aren't supposed to hold us hostage.  They're meant to transform us, make us different, but in a good way.  When someone is missing from our lives, I think the memories of them ought to bring us comfort, a hopefulness that even though they're gone, we have them here.  We will know them in ways no one else ever will, so they stay a part of our lives."  Memories are supposed to be a good thing, even of one who is not longer with us.  They should bring joy of the time that we had with them.  "I only meant that it is part of human nature to grieve, and that, at some point, as God sustains us and we hear His words, we are able to move forward.  Never forgetting the loss-no, not ever that-but not allowing that absence in our lives to be so great that we no longer see the sunlight for its warmth, or fail to notice snowflakes or forget to listen to the laughter of our children who still walk this earth, who can still put their arms around our necks, seeking comfort."  I think sometimes when we lose someone we love we forget to go on living.  God says that their is a time to grieve and a time for joy.  Yes, there is a grieving period but then there is a time to move on and get on with living, never forgetting but remembering all that one still has to live for.  "How could a man reclaim his future when the past held such sway?"  If we don't let go of the past we can never look to the future.  Our past holds us back from who God wants us to be.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Forgotten Garden

"The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton

Oh my goodness people, this book was sooo good.  It was a happened upon book, a book that was in a box of books my friend let me pilfer through.  It was a dauntingly large book, 551 pages.  But let me tell you, it just might be one of my favorites.  I'm not a mystery reading girl, not into crime and who done it kinda books.  But this book involved mystery, plenty of it, left me guessing and guessing.  I love a book that I can't predict and this was one I couldn't grasp the answers to until the last few chapters.  I literally had to keep reading because I needed to know the answers, needed I tell ya.  The book is about a little girl who is found on a dock in Australia, alone.  The dockmaster takes her home and calls her his own.  When she turns 21 the truth is revealed and her search for her family begins.  She dies before all her answers are found but her granddaughter tries to finish the puzzle of the past.  The past has more questions than answers but it will finally be revealed and the granddaughters life set right again.  This is a must read.  It involves love, and pain and loss and hope.  It is a book about what we do to find where we come from and how far we will go for love.  It is a great book.  Read it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Half Broke Horses

"Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls

This was a great book.  At first I wasn't too sure, thought it might be a little boring and man the writing was small, but once I started I just kept on reading.  It is a true-life novel written about the authors grandmother.  Her grandmother, Lily was tough and loving and kind and hardworking.  She was a go getter and refused to let being a woman stand in her way.  It is a great story of triumph and courage.  "It seemed to me that when you were in the middle of something, it was awful hard to figure out what part of it was God's will and what wasn't."  "Most important thing in life, is learning how to fall."  You learn how to fall you can learn to get up and try again.  "When God closes a window, He opens a door.  But it's up to you to find it."  Theres a way, He always makes a way, sometimes it just takes a little work.  "Every kid was good at something, and the trick was to find out what it was, then use it to teach him everything else."  Just need to find what a person is good at and build on that.  We all have our gifts.  "When someone's wounded, the first order of business is to stop the bleeding.  You can figure out later how best to help them heal."  First you have to meet the immediate need then you can tell them about Jesus.  If they are hungry or cold how can they really hear you?  Show them Jesus first, then tell them.  "When people kill themselves, they think they're ending the pain, but all they're doing is passing it on to those they leave behind."  "I realized that you can get so used to certain luxuries that you start to think they're necessities, but when you have to forgo them, you come to see that you don't need them after all.  There was a big difference between needing things and wanting things-though a lot of people had trouble telling the two apart."  I think we get our needs and wants mixed up a lot.  We forget how much we really do have and what really does matter.  "The problem with being attached to an anchor is it's damned hard to fly."  "She might not have turned out like you planned, but that don't mean she turned out wrong."  That's a good one for us parents to remember.  Just because our kids didn't say, do or think they way we wanted doesn't mean they said, did or thought wrong.  I bet we didn't turn our quite the way our parents thought we would either.

The Sandalwood Tree

"The Sandalwood Tree" by Elle Newmark
This book takes place in India 1947.  An English family lives there and is trying to keep their family together amidst the violence.  The wife, Evie finds some old letters in their house and discovers a story of love and war.  She seeks to find out what the letters don't say.  On this journey she finds the keys to keeping her marriage and family together.  "Wanting is suffering.  Accepting is peace."  We always want more, even when we get what we wanted.  When we find contentment I believe we find peace.  "I have an idea the only thing that makes this life bearable is the beauty we create out of chaos-music, art, poetry, but most of all, living a beautiful life, however one might define that."  Bad happens and we are all dealt some pretty rotten cards but we can make the most of it and find beauty.  God always turns beauty from ashes.  "I smiled back, and we understood each other because everyone smiles in the same language."  Doesn't matter what language you speak, every one knows a smile.  Some things are universal like a smile and hug.  "It's not that the past doesn't matter, it's that the future matters more, and the present matters most of all." Living for today, that is all that we are promised.  The past can shape us, the future can give us hope, but today is a day worth living to the fullest.  Not the greatest book but certainly not the worst.  I liked how it really gave the reader a feel for life in India. I liked the intervening of two stories from two different times and how there is always something to learn from another.