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review 2017-10-13 16:17
The Diary of a Young Girl / Anne Frank
The Diary of a Young Girl - B.M. Mooyaart,Eleanor Roosevelt,Anne Frank

I finally got around to reading this heart-warming and heart-wrenching document.  I attempted it as a much younger person and didn’t get very far, perhaps because I was a teenager myself with my own angst to deal with. 

 

There’s no doubt that Anne was right about her own writing abilities.  If she had lived, I think she definitely had a chance to become a significant author.  She could have edited her own diaries to begin with and perhaps written more about the Jewish experience during WWII.

 

I think her father (the only surviving member of those concealed in the Annex) was a brave man to allow her journals to be published.  He and his wife do not always come out of them looking good.  However, we, as readers, are continually reminded that the people confined in this small space are bound to clash with one another repeatedly.  Imagine having no space to truly call your own, having to share cooking & food supplies, not having easy access to a toilet and not being able to flush during certain hours, and having to be quiet during the workday so as not to alert the employees working below them!  Prisoners in jails have better living conditions!

 

I am also impressed by the courageous Dutch folk who hid their Jewish friends and kept them supplied with the necessities of life for so long.  That’s a big commitment and they fulfilled it for two years with very few glitches (health problems for all of them sometimes made for erratic food delivery).  How many of us would have the fortitude and the bravery to attempt such a feat?

 

The saddest part of the book was definitely the afterword—Anne’s last entry is absolutely ordinary (in an extraordinary circumstance) and then they are betrayed and sent to concentration camps.  They had lasted so long and the end of the war was just a year away (although they had no way to know that).  I was left with the melancholy question of what might have been.

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review 2017-10-10 18:58
Northanger Abbey / Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen,Elizabeth Hardwick

'To look almost pretty, is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain the first fifteen years of her life, than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive'

During an eventful season at Bath, young, naïve Catherine Morland experiences the joys of fashionable society for the first time. She is delighted with her new acquaintances: flirtatious Isabella, who shares Catherine's love of Gothic romance and horror, and sophisticated Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who invite her to their father's mysterious house, Northanger Abbey. There, her imagination influenced by novels of sensation and intrigue, Catherine imagines terrible crimes committed by General Tilney. With its broad comedy and irrepressible heroine, this is the most youthful and and optimistic of Jane Austen's works.

 

I chose this novel to fill the “Gothic” square of my 2017 Halloween Book Bingo.

In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen turns the gothic novel inside out, having some fun with all of its parts. Catherine Morland, our main character, is not a stereotypical gothic heroine—she isn’t tremendously beautiful, she isn’t sophisticated or educated, and she’s not even too bright! But she does read gothic romances, like The Mysteries of Udolpho to use as a guide for her behaviour. Unfortunately for her, her frenemy Isabella turns out to be a gold-digger, her visit to Northanger Abbey produces no murders nor secret passages, and there turn out to be no impediments between her and the man of her choice. The most ungothic of gothic romances!

I do have to wonder a bit about Henry, who is obviously intelligent and amusing, if only Catherine had the wits to understand him! I’m afraid he will be singularly bored, unless she can be enlivened a bit.

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review 2017-09-25 18:10
I Heard the Owl Call My Name / Margaret Craven
I Heard the Owl Call My Name - Margaret Craven

In a world that knows too well the anguish inherent in the clash of old ways and new lifestyles, Margaret Craven's classic and timeless story of a young man's journey into the Pacific Northwest is as relevant today as ever.

Here amid the grandeur of British Columbia stands the village of Kingcome, a place of salmon runs and ancient totems - a village so steeped in time that, according to Kwakiutl legend, it was founded by two brothers left on earth after the great flood. Yet in this Eden of such natural beauty and richness, the old culture of totems and potlaches is under attack - slowly being replaced by a new culture of prefab houses and alcoholism. Into this world, where an entire generation of young people has become disenchanted and alienated from their heritage, Craven introduces Mark Brian, a young vicar sent to the small isolated parish by his church.

This is Mark's journey of discovery - a journey that will teach him about life, death, and the transforming power of love. It is a journey that will resonate in the mind of readers long after the book is done.

 

This was a re-read for me, but it might as well have been my first time, I remembered so little. Mind you, I think I was in my teens when I read it the first time. My only memory of it was a feeling of melancholy.

The young vicar, Mark, is sent to the Kwakiutl village of Kingcome by his bishop, who knows Mark has a terminal illness, but chooses not to tell him. In our 21st century culture of consent, this just wouldn’t happen anymore. No doctor worth his or her salt would let a patient out of the office without informing him of the diagnosis.

It struck me during my reading how residential schools are mentioned matter-of-factly. How the clash of cultures becomes intense as the children come home for Christmas. The pain of the parents as their children are pulled towards the outside world and away from the old ways. The enticing lure of education and modernity for the children.

Although Mark is nominally in the village to minister to the community, it is he who receives the majority of the spiritual benefits. In his tenure in Kingcome, he learns more of friendship and community than he ever anticipated—and this is why his bishop sent him there. I shed a few tears at the end and found that my only memory of melancholy was wholly accurate.

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url 2017-03-08 16:39
50 Great Books about 50 Inspiring Women (from Flavorwire)

From the Flavorwire archives, in honor of International Women's Day.

Image result for rosie the riveter

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review 2014-03-30 04:28
The Isle of Youth by Laura van den Berg
The Isle of Youth: Stories - Laura van den Berg

Title: The Isle of Youth
Author: Laura van den Berg
Genre: Short Stories
Setting: Argentina • France • Cuba • USA
Design by Abby Kagan
Publisher: FSG Originals (November 5, 2013)
Literary Awards: Amazon Best Book of the Month (November 2013) | Won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters (others)

 

Laura van den Berg has created an original, smart and engaging piece of work with The Isle of Youth.  It evoked haunting thoughts about our connections with others and the struggle to find ourselves. While all these stories are about women trying to grapple with their own difficult and complex circumstances, each story stands on its own. At times strange, mysterious, and unsettling, the stories draw you in without any ounce of demand or coercion. The stories were written with admirable brevity and you can’t help but read them. My favorite stories from the book were Antarctica, Lessons and the title story, The Isle of Youth.

 

The women in The Isle of Youth have experienced abandonment in its different guises, but each character and story remains distinct. They long to connect with their loved ones, but everyone seems to be leaving them and asking them to move on as well. We either get the sense that they are trying to escape their loneliness while struggling to move on, or they have resigned themselves to their fate, not wanting to do more. When an opportunity shows, they become impulsive and act upon it without much further thought. Some of their decisions border on the ludicrous at times. One can’t help but feel that these decisions will cause them more harm unless someone intervenes. These characters seem to be trapped in their lives and relationships. Personally, I didn’t consider them to be thoroughly likeable, although their stories allowed me to sympathize with them.

 

There is this sense of incompleteness in the stories, seemingly juxtaposed with the characters’ own emptiness and desire for something more. While the endings are uncertain, it doesn’t mean they are unconvincing. The vagueness of how each story ends serves not only to mimic the uncertainty each character faces as they move along with their lives, but also perfectly mirror their imperfections and indecisiveness. It just shows that we never know what’s coming.

 

People say Laura van den Berg is one of the great new writers we have today… I can’t agree more. Her writing is smart, energetic and sophisticated. Each of the stories in The Isle of Youth left me affected. In this book, I came face to face with my own vulnerabilities. The ambiguity of the women’s situation is a stark contrast to the author’s simple, straightforward, and unadorned writing. The clarity and simplicity of it all is one of the things I adored in this book. The stories seem familiar, but the depth and complexity of these great stories will no doubt stay with me. This is the first book of short stories I’ve read in my adult life, and the first book written by Laura van den Berg that I’ve read. I don’t think I could have picked a more perfect book of short stories to read. I am definitely looking forward to her next book. Highly recommended.

Source: 5eyedbookworm.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/the-isle-of-youth
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