Monday, February 20, 2017

The Things We Do For Love

"The Things We Do For Love" by Kristin Hannah

A story of three sisters from a loud Italian family whose beloved father passes away.  Angela was her father's pride and joy and left their small town for bigger things.  She comes back after his death when her marraige has ended due to the stress of not being able to have children.  Lauren lives with her alcoholic mother and is desperatly trying to make something of her life despite where she comes from.  Fate brings Angela and Lauren together where they fill the void each has carried in their hearts but this connection may just be their undoing.  "She'd focused so much on her own grief that his had become incidental."  I think often we are so hurt that we foget there is another person in the equation and they might be hurting also.  "Memories don't live on streets or in cities.  They flowed in the blood, pulsed with your heartbeat."  We move towns, change schools, leave our jobs all to be rid of memories forgetting that those memories follow us and are a part of us.  "The tears, she now knew, meant hope.  When your eyes dried up, there was none."  "Grief was like that; both she and Mama knew it well.  It would sometimes feel fresh, no matter how long she lived.  Some losses ran deep, and time moved too slowly in a lifetime to heal them completely."  I'm thankful for heaven where our grief will be no more.  "It was easy to love someone when life was uncomplicated."  It's when life throws its curveballs that loving becomes harder.  "Love can get us through the hardest times.  It can also be our hardest times."  "How could love demand so many sacrifices and survive?"  Love is sacrifice and when two people sacrifice it's a love that can't be broken.  "Sometimes your heart got  broken, but you just held on.  That was all there was."  Because love is worth the heartbreak.

Magic Hour

"Magic Hour" by Kristin Hannah

I found another gem by Kristin!  This one is very good.  This book takes you to a very small town in the state of Washington where a girl suddenly appears from the forest.  She doesn't speak and is frightened of everything.  The police cheif, Ellie, needs to find what happened to this girl and where she is from.  She calls on her sister, whom has been a well known psychologist in Seattle, to help the little girl.  Julia has started to doubt her ability to help disturbed children after one of her recent patients does the unthinkable and she wasn't able to see if coming.  She has nothing to lose but she will have to face the ghosts of her past in her home town.  Will Ellie be able to be the town hero?  Will Julia be able to find the confidence to help this child?  Will the sisters be able to put their past behind them to work together?  If you like Kristin Hannah you don't want to miss this one.  "Love rips the shit out of you and puts you back together like a broken toy, with all kinds of cracks and jagged edges.  It's not about the falling in love.  It's about the landing, the staying where you said you'd be and working to keep the love strong."  That's what the hard part is, staying and working on keeping the love strong.  But that is where the reward comes in too.  "Life was impossibly fragile.  If you were lucky enough to have a loving family, you hold on to them with infinite care."  This story is about love lost and love found.  It is about opening up your heart again after loss and not being afraid to love because what is life without love?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Night Road

"Night Road" by Kristin Hannah

Another good one by Kristin.  I haven't read one of hers yet that I don't like.  This story takes place in a small town, families who know each other, kids growing up together, small community helping one another.  A young girl comes to town to live with her aunt after numerous foster homes.  She isn't like the other kids but none the less gets excepted.  She makes a best friend at school and soon becomes like family.  She falls in love with her best friends twin brother.  She loves this family and would do anything to hurt them until one fateful night of drinking at a party changes everything.  Lexi will lose everything she loved.  Will she ever forget that night?  Will there ever be forgiveness for her?  "The last thing in the world she wanted was to stand here, pretending she wasn't shattered inside, but she couldn't make herself move, either."  Sometimes we are so broken we can't pretend.  "Mostly, she'd learned that some pain simply could neither be cured nor ignored nor healed."  Facing the pain allows the healing.  I believe all pain can heal, doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt, just becomes less hurt I guess.  "What you did isn't the sum total of who you are."  Truth for all of us.  "When you love someone...and you lose them, you can kind of lose yourself, too."  A deep loss that grieves us can make us lose a piece of who we are.  "It was easier to suppress heartache than to overcome it."  "Maybe you need to be broken a little before you can put yourself back together."  The breaking is what puts us back together.  It's in the breaking we find ourselves and that we alone can't fix it.  It's in this place that God can do His work to put us back together again.  "People think love is an act of faith.  Sometimes it's an act of will."  The feelings won't always be there so sometimes it takes just being willing to show love despite the feelings.  "She didn't know how she would correct all the wrong paths she'd taken, but it was time to start undoing her mistakes.  One at a time."  That's where you start, one step at a time, it's never too late.  "She'd known it all along; she'd looked away from it purposely, afraid that the pain would kill her.  But not feeling had taken away her joy, too, left her in that gray haze of numbness."  We often try and suppress the pain because it hurts too much but in doing that we also suppress all our other emotions.  "In the sea of grief, there were islands of grace, moments in time when one could remember what was left rather than all that had been lost."  Grief takes time, we all do it differently but there will come a time where rather than the pain of the loss the  joy of having lived becomes greater.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Summer Island

"Summer Island" by Kristin Hannah

This was my least favorite of hers so far yet it was still a good book, I just liked her others better.  This was also one of her first books that she wrote.  The story follows two sisters and their mother who abandoned them.  Their mother, Nora, has since become famous in radio for her talk show on giving advice in relationships.  The oldest daughter is living the perfect high society life, forgetting her past and doing her best to move on.  The youngest daugher has never forgiven her mother and continues to run and struggle through her life.  An accident and a revealing of their past will bring all three of them together to reveal all that they lost and all that they didn't really know.  Spending a week together in their summer home the past comes back at them full force including the neighbor brothers who happen to be back in town at the same time.  "Motherhood is full of secret worries."  Ain't that the truth!  "I'm your father; she's your mother-whatever she's done or hasn't done, or said or hasn't said-she's a part of you and you're a part of her.  Don't you see that you can't be whole without her?"  I work with foster kids and it doesn't matter how much a child has been hurt by their parent they still love them.  Our parents make up a part of who we are, not all of us, but a part.  "There's no substitute for talking to the people you love.  Thinking about them, dreaming about them, wishing things were different...all of these are the beginning.  But someone has to make the first move."  Be brave, make the first move, you never know where it could lead.

Home Front

"Home Front" by Kristin Hannah

I told you I was going to read all her books.  I'm reading two a week!  This book was a little different from Winter Garden and The Nightingale in that it was about modern day times.  The story is about a family whose mother is a helicopter pilot in the Armed Forces and is deployed.  The book takes a real look at our service men and women and what they sacrifice to fight for our freedoms.  It also takes a hard look at PTSD and how much of a struggle it is for them to integrate back into their families.  Jolene, the pilot, is struggling with leaving her two children and the marriage that is already on the brink.  She does not know what she will come home to or even if she will come home at all.  When Jolene returns more broken than any of them could imagine it will take a battle of strength and love to bring their family back together again.  "Marriages go through hard times.  Sometimes you have to get in there and fight for your love.  That's the only way for it to get better."  All relationships are hard and most are worth fighting for.  "She was the one who took care; he was the one who took.  One-sided relationships are so very hard to overcome.  Sometimes we need to look at serving though instead of selfishness.  "But it's also my job to show you what kind of person to be, to teach you by example.  What lesson would I teach you if I ran from a commitment I made:  I I was cowardly or dishonorable?  When you make a promise in this life, you keep it, even if it scares you or hurts you or makes you sad."  A promise to love and cherish someone till death, a promise you don't just throw away.  What are we teaching our children if our marriage are so easily thrown away and not fought for?  "Saying good-bye to loved ones is the most difficult act for any soldier."  They've trained for battle but have no training to say good-bye to the people they love most in the world.  "The cost of war was here, in this room.  It was families being torn apart and babies born without their parents at home and children forgetting their mother's faces.  It was soldiers-some of them his age and others young enough to be his sons-who would come home wounded...or not come home at all."  I think we forget the humanity behind the men and women who serve.  Their lives are the cost of war.  "He'd made her happy; that was something he'd always known.  What he'd forgotten was how happy she'd made him."  We get so caught up in the irritations we forget to be grateful.  "We all knew it would be hard to have you gone, but no one told us how hard it would be when you came back.  We'll have to adjust.  All of us."  Our soldiers don't come back the same and yet we expect them to.  But how could they after what they have seen and experienced?  "They are heroes, our soldiers, the men and women who go into harm's way to protect us, our way of life.  It doesn't matter what you think of the war, you have to be grateful to the warriors, of whom we ask so much.  To whom we sometimes give too little."  I couldn't agree more.  "But how do you help someone deal with horrors you can't imagine?  And how does a soldier come home from war, really?  As a nation, these are questions we need to ask ourselves."  Really ask ourselves.  These are people, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who have sacrificed so much.  We owe it to them to take a long, hard look on helping them return and integrate back into their families and society.  "There was so much training before one goes to war, and so little for one's return."  My heart is heavy with this statement, especially when the hardest part is probably the coming home.  Why do we do these heroes such a disservice?  "How could it be harder to come home than to go to war?"
I appreciated this book for its honest look at our soldiers and PTSD.  I have a soft spot for our military and am thankful for their sacrifice, something I am trying to pass on to my girls.  My girls wrote a thank you note for Veterans Day to our neighbor all on their own and he framed the notes and hung them in his garage.  Every time he sees my girls he gets teary eyed and thanks them for their kind words.  That's sometimes all it takes, a simple acknowledgement of their sacrifice and letting them know you are grateful.  I know we can all do something so simple.