Saturday, October 27, 2012

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Once again, book diet is intact as this was a library book and this is another great recommendation from Books On The Nightstand podcast.

This book starts out with "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist." In the late 60s, James meets Gwen and they fall in love and have a daughter, Dana. Problem is, James was already married and had been for 10 years before he laid eyes on Gwen. He already had a daughter as well. Oh what tangled webs we weave....

This story is told, first, from the side of daughter #2 - Dana. James and her mother married, albeit illegally, and he's a part time dad to Dana. Both families live in the same town and James does his best to impress upon family #2 that they are the secret family. They can't be upsetting his regular family life. It does seem that he tries to be a good father and provides for Dana, but she's obviously second.

The second part of the book is told by Chaurisse, James' daughter #1. You feel for both girls because they end up meeting and becoming friends. Unfortunately, Dana knows all about Chaurisse but Chaurisse is clueless as to who Dana really is. It's a tangled mess of a man wanting the best of both worlds and wanting two families. It can't possibly stay calm and sweet for him, and them, and it doesn't. Everyone's hands are forced and choices are made.

I appreciate that this book was told from the perspective of the daughters, the truly innocent of this. They are both played as pawns by their mothers and their father.  Clearly, their parents played the game and they were the losers but one did "win" a full time dad, while the other loses.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

A book that came to me through (still on my book diet and doing well!) and it's a rather small book (198 pages) so obviously my brain went into "must read now" mode.

If you've read The Odyssey by Homer or if, like me, you know the myth behind it (with the help of The Simpsons), then this is a good little book to enhance it. This is the story of Odysseus but told from Penelope's point of view. Penelope is long dead and telling her story from Hades, in order to set some things straight.

We learn about why the 12 maids that were killed should not have been, how Helen started the War, how Penelope endured all the Suitors that descended on her castle when Odysseus failed to return from the Trojan War, etc.

The book is interspersed with "songs" and poems but I have to say I skipped those. The storytelling from Penelope was what I was after and it was very entertaining.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Listening to a Books on the Nightstand podcast, one of the hosts talked about girlchild.

Basically he said:
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman – This is a book that truly blew me away. Uncomfortable and unbearably sad at times, this story of young trailer park resident Rory Dawn Hendrix features writing unlike anything I’ve read before.

I 100% agree. I couldn't sit and read this in one go, no matter how much I liked it.

Let's start somewhere here:

1) This is the author's debut novel and I'm amazed and in awe. The writing was skillful but packed an emotional wallop. It was truly a messy book but put together so well. Kudos Tupelo!

2) The story of Rory Dawn Hendrix is heartbreaking. Because of her family she is described as one of the "third generation bastards surely on the road to whoredom". girlchild depicts a life in a trailer park outside of Reno and it's not a pretty life. It's not even an okay life. It's a sad, scary life that Rory Dawn tries to make sense of using the Girl Scout Handbook from the library.

The end is unresolved. You root for Rory Dawn but somehow you just aren't sure she's going to make it out of the life she was thrown in to.

Uncomfortable, heartbreaking, with an optimistic twist in there.