Friday, February 18, 2011

What I've Been Reading

Finally found some time to dive back into some books. All three of these were recommendations from other people who are smarter than me.

First up was Sarah's Key by Tatiana deRosnay. This book is told from two points of view which interchange at each chapter for the majority of the book. First is Sarah, a young Jewish girl in Paris who is rounded up with her family during the Holocaust. These parts of the book were horribly hard to read as they portrayed terrible things that happened to her family. I won't lie, this would have been a much better book if I didn't have a toddler at home. I nearly couldn't get through the first half of the book for the sheer terror I felt in the cruel things that were happening to the little children. The second point of view is from an American born woman married and living in France. As a journalist she is researching the events of the little known French roundups while fighting to keep her personal life together. Her story as well as her life intertwine with Sarah throughout the book. If I hadn't been so heartbroken over the children, I would say this was an incredible book. Very well written and very emotional.

Next up was Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Ok, so technically the title is Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern Day Slave, An International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together, but that's a freaking mouthful. That aside, it's one of the best book I've read in forever and one of the few nonfiction books I've thoroughly enjoyed. A story of a old black man who grew up as a sharecropper in Louisiana and escapes to Texas where he lives a life of homelessness, crime and violence combined with a rich white couple drawn to volunteer at the shelter where he lives. Reading this book gave me a lot to think about. It ran the gauntlet, covering marriage, friendship, love, and family right alongside death, injustice, and poverty. The first half of the book is the story of the past, which I found fascinating. When you get to the middle of the book the focus takes a very sudden shift into the spiritual, and that's when you better have a box of Kleenex nearby. I was astounded at the depth of spirituality spread through the last half of the book. I didn't see it coming. The idea that this is a true story is amazing to me. I was humbled to think that there can be so much love wrapped up in one person and the incredible ways God will use that person to spread love. Just go read it. It's an awesome book. I got it from PBS and the lady who sent it to me sent a note that it was such a good book she almost wished she had kept it. I sent her a message to let her know I felt the same way, but was passing it on to somebody else who would appreciate the depth of it, and ask them to continue passing it along. Jennie appreciated that.

And now for something completely different...

Finally, I just finished reading Oyster by John Biguenet. I picked this up after reading about it on a post on Nicole's blog. There were more twists and turns in this novel than in Kaycie's fly dance moves. Set in the oyster fishing culture of South Louisiana, a deep secret leads to a murder, which leads to a murder, which leads... well. There's a good bit of violence in this one, but it's a pretty complex plot with a lot of back story. It's built around a strong, single minded young woman and a trio of brothers from a rival family, all of which take family seriously. Biguenet did a great job describing a culture and a landscape that most people will never see. It's a unique setting for a pretty unique book. While I wasn't blown away by it, I'm glad I read it.

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