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As of my "maternity leave," here are the stats of the past year: 74 books reviewed 9 guest posts 4 independent bookstores 3 d...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir

Ruth's father had 42 children -- she was number 39. She was a rough and tumble girl, having three siblings before her and almost a half dozen more to come. Her father was killed when she was a baby by his brother in a power struggle for the church, and her mother remarried soon after. This man, however, was not the man he purported to be. Raising her children in destitution and squalor, Ruth's mom gave birth to a series of babies while choosing to remain ignorant to the sexual abuse her husband was perpetuating on his own step children. While Ruth is still young, tragedy strikes the family, and she must make a decision that will change all of their lives. 

This memoir was super intriguing and incredibly interesting. I have been on a kick lately reading about poverty, and this memoir surprisingly fit into it. Of course I have lots of thoughts on issues such as depending on the government when your religion believes it is the devil, but if I'm just keeping it to the story, I would say it's definitely worth the read. Truth is certainly stranger than fiction, and Ruth's truth is mind-blowing if you have never experienced poverty at the level she has. 

The biggest question, I think, is at what point do you need to walk away from a chosen religion that encourages an unhealthy lifestyle for your children? I specifically mean living in squalor to the point of disease and the inability to ensure the safety of your babies. It's easy to argue in the story that Ruth's religion was the crux of her families problems. Now, that isn't to say that every religion causes problems, but theirs specifically doesn't just advocate for this lifestyle but embodies it. The lifestyle being one of poverty, barely enough to eat, definitely not enough nutrition for small growing bodies, and ultimately sexual abuse of minors. While the sexual abuse isn't necessarily inherent in the religion, the willingness of the community members to stand for such treatment of children in their midst -- including the mothers of the abused children -- is nothing short of shameful and unacceptable.

The hardest part of this book is that the only reason Ruth escaped her daily horror was because her mom died. That is incredibly unfortunate because it took the death of her rock and the only real functioning adult in her world to bring order and a childhood to her life. I appreciate what it too for her to write this story, and I'm happy she did. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Guest Blogger Charlotte: Alice in Wonderland

Hi There!

I have always been a bit hesitant to read classics, not because I doubt how amazing they are, but because I didn’t want to not enjoy them and crush my 7-year-old self. Anyways, this month Alice in Wonderland kept popping up, so I decided to go ahead and read the fairy tale and let me say, I was far from being disappointed!

Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland is considered a children’s book, however, it is so beautifully written that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about tea parties, chasing a rabbit, and an intense game of croquet. I guess what I’m trying to say is the book can be enjoyed by anyone, especially if you love adventure with a touch of magic and madness. Also, I thought it was very interesting to somewhat go back to the story of Wonderland that I so desperately desired to travel to and loved while growing up. However, reading it a few years later, I found that different things stood out to me and even though I still adore the story, I focused on different parts of the book this time through.

The book begins when Alice is being read a book by a sister, and to Alice’s surprise, the book has no images! This deeply troubles Alice, and a running white rabbit that is completely distressed and running late soon distracts her. For obvious reasons, Alice follows the rabbit… I mean who wouldn’t? She follows him until she falls into a whole for what feels like hours! I mean seriously, Alice is able to pick up books from shelves and drink tea and even comes to the conclusion that she will soon arrive on the other side of the world. My favorite part of this scene is when she contemplates how it will feel to be standing upside down. Out of all the things she could be thinking, like where is she or the fact that she is falling, (!!!) left me with a bubbly feeling inside. It shows pure innocence and joy and I absolutely loved the little details like this throughout the novel.

Alice soon lands and finds herself in a corridor of doors. She quickly finds the rabbit and continues her mission to figure out why he is in such distress.  This is when Alice is confronted with a small door and is unsure what to do. All the other doors are locked and when a key appears on a table in the room, it only opens the minuscule door. She looks in and sees a beautiful garden and is completely dedicated to fitting through the door and exploring this garden and Wonderland. Then, the infamous scene with the ‘Drink me’ potion and ‘Eat me’ cake occurs.

Once she makes it through the door her adventure in Wonderland begins (yay!).  Even though I know the story, I was so excited to see what would happen. She meets fabulous and quirky characters, but also meets characters that teach her important lessons and morals. As the book continues and Alice continues her adventure, the reader also gets to see different parts of her personality and we find out that she is actually a quite fiery, yet kind and confident girl that I honestly wish I could be.

However, my favorite characters were by far the Tea Party ‘Crew’ (especially the Dormouse), the Caterpillar, and the Queen of Hearts because of how well written they were, and that I could somewhat relate to them. (I’m not crazy I promise.) The Tea Party ‘Crew’ stood out to me for their utter insanity, and because the tea party never stops, which I think everyone dreams of. I especially want to mention the Dormouse because it was always sleeping, but said such random things when it was awake that I couldn’t stop myself from giggling. Then, the Caterpillar came along.  I really enjoyed him.  Not because he kept asking strange questions, but because he truly did have some good points that still have me questioning what I’m doing with my life. Lastly, the Queen of Heart a.k.a the Drama Queen was also one of my favorites. My younger self was definitely afraid of her, but this time around I just found her to be hilarious. I loved her personality, and couldn’t get enough of her overly dramatic and often compulsive comments.

Alice left me left with a good feeling inside that I hadn’t felt with a lot of the more current novels I’ve been reading. I truly enjoyed my visit to Wonderland and recommend everyone to either read this book, or a fairytale classic they grew up loving. It will put you in such a bubbly mood, and you’ll find new meanings to the story. It is so beautifully written and magically organized that it flew by fast in the best way possible. I guess this means I’ll be reading more ‘classics’ now!

~ Charlotte